One down, three to go, Yarmoliuk hares through the Hatters
Hat’s off to Bees
Having been given a dusting by Liverpool and then edged out by Arsenal, the Bees were patently determined of getting back to winning ways. They need not have worried. Last season qualifiers for the Premier League, The Hatters – so named because of the town’s history in the titfer trade – have been struggling since its start and their visit to the Gtech Community Stadium did nothing to suggest happier days were imminent.
The first half saw Brentford dominate the visitors, creating a string of chances without converting any of them into goals. Early on, Bryan Mbeumo came close, firing a shot past a post. Sadly, this has not been exactly a rarity in his game, but the paucity of Luton’s own efforts to get on the scoresheet suggested the sprightliest of the Bees’ attacking force might be better rewarded this time out.
Not so, although Mbeumo’s non-stop industry ensured that he was, once again, the pick of a home side lacking seven or eight players who as often or not would come near the front of the queue if not nursing debilitating injuries. (The most recent of these was full-back Kristoffer Ajer, hurt seriously enough during the pre-match warm-up enough to take no further part in the proceedings.)
As it was, few interesting incidents occurred. Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski, having irritated referee Anthony Taylor and the home crowd by apparently adopting slow-motion whenever required to return the ball into play, was issued with a yellow card for time-wasting. It seemed to speed him up no end.
Mine! says Meeee
And when the visiting captain, Tom Lockyer, needed attention to hobble from the field he set set up a rare double event, Jacob Brown replacing the skipper after the break.
An unchanged lineup seemed to be somewhat chastened upon resumption and went ahead just four minutes after the restart. Pressure on Luton within their goal area saw the marauding Ben Mee – another splendid performance from him – help the ball on its way to Neal Maupay – quiet for most of the preceding half – who scored from close in.
If Mee was downhearted by his goal evaporating, it took only seven more minutes for him to put matters right, soaring above friends and foes alike to despatch a forceful header beyond Kaminski.
Strangely, this double-whammy perked up Luton and the Bees increasingly discovered they could no longer have their own way. The aforementioned Brown became a pest and might have scored had he not directed a shot towards a corner flag rather than the goal, but with fifteen minutes left a Bees’ defensive error allowed Ross Barkley to provide a penetrating pass for the sub to finish neatly.
Wissa the wizard of touchline ball control
The goal added fuel to their continuing raids on the Brentford defence, but it was too little too late. And when two of Thomas Frank’s subs combined – Keane Lewis-Potter to do the foraging, Shandon Baptiste the finish – it was all over bar the scampering of home and away supporters to escape a wicked chill that would take brave men to stay for the head coach and Brentford players’ lap of honour.
Come the following day, Chelsea managed to beat Brighton and establish themselves exactly equal with Brentford in wins, draws and goal difference. My mate Charlie wanted to know – and so did I – why Chelsea’s figures were above Brentford on the BBC chart. What happened to good old alphabetical order? asked Charlie.
Don’t know, I told him. Well, said Charlie, I’ll eat my hat!
Brentford: Flekken; Ghoddos (substitute Roerslev 77m). Pinnock, Mee: Janelt, Onyeka, Nørgaard, Yarmoliuk (sub Baptiste 70’); Mbeumo (sub Lewis-Porter 78’). Maupay (sub Peart-Harris 78’), Wissa.
Luton: Kasminski; Mengi (sub Giles 76’), Lockyer (sub Brown 45’), Osho; Kaboré, Mpanzu (sub Clark 60), Barkley; Bell, Chong, Ogbene (sub Townsend 60’); Morris (sub Adebayo 60’).
Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor for the Bees United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.
Bill, who lives in Chiswick and is a former Fleet Street editor, has been named Journalist Laureate 2023 the London Press Club awards:
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