Boro Double Sting From Bees
By Robert Nichols
Sunday 09 Feb 2020 13:02:00
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It was a historic day at Brentford on Saturday. As well as the final visit to Griffin Park, Brentford's late strike made it a first ever double over Boro in a season. That is not the kind of history anyone from Teesside will be celebrating. But in an end to end match, Boro came out fighting in the second period and might easily have taken 1 or even 3 points from a team that looks like the real deal; a play off prospect at the very least. Yet another failure though means we must come up with the goods in the week ahead to avoid being sucked into the relegation vortex once again.

It was the end of an era for Boro fans. The last chance to stand at an old style ground. Griffin Park, famed for a pub in each corner, with four stands and four corner floodlight pylons has been a rare survivor from 20th century football fandom. No wonder tickets were almost as coveted by traditionalists as those scrambling for the space age Tottenham Hotspur Stadium just a couple of weeks previously. Although the safe standing already in place in all but name at Spurs shows that one football tradition is being revived, albeit between rows of upright seats with a safety bar.

Brentford means a meeting in a pub like the Globe, where it was warm enough to mean the beer garden was in full flow. Ironic that there were big queues for food orders when the wifi went down out in the garden. Sometimes as Brentford have often demonstrated old ways are the best. Back to the pen and paper.

Walking to the ground with Billy the Bee and fellow Beesotted fanziner, Dave Lane, we talked Juninho and new grounds for old as the new stadium is only a few minutes walk away on a site next to Kew Bridge and don't worry there is a pub, if not in the corner only yards away from the stadium. Oh and it looks to have floodlight pylons too.

Before we parted Billy's footballing daughter and friend both predicted big wins for the Bees. I wished them well, "but not today," as is the tradition and then took my place on the terracing, to the far left of the most overcrowded sections.

Leo was seated in a paddock area to our right and received applause and chants. The players appeared through the tunnel in a corner at our end. Ravel was on the bench but central defender Harold Moukoudi did start. And reports that he is a “big unit” were justfied. The St Etienne loan player looked powerful and robust but also quickly showed he had an eye for a pass as well being able to read the game well defensively.

This allowed Paddy McNair to be released into midfield. But it has to be said he initially looked a bit lost over on the right, as did Lewis Wing, pressed up near to Ashley Fletcher, he hardly got a touch. So, after a bright Boro start Brentford stormed the midfield and started to dominate play. Jonny Howson, in at right back for the rested Djed Spence did well to head one dangerous cross clear. Then in a remarkable passage The Bees struck the post and the rebound was somehow rescued off the line by Dael Fry who ended up impaled in the back of the net as a result.

Brentford did eventually make a breakthrough and once again we were unable to deal with a ball into the box. Pears was stranded and this time the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line before being cleared.

So, a goal down against a team that had swept Hull for five and we were failing to compete effectively in key areas of the pitch. We also had only one shot on target up to this point, a surging run and strike from 25 yards from Hayden Coulson. So things were not looking good.

It was timely that Jonathan Woodgate now made a tactical switch, including McNair coming more central and Wing dropping back. This paid immediate dividends with Lewis pinging balls wide right to Howson and Tav to open up the home team. Indeed we ended up the half putting Brentford on the back foot but needing to find more penetration and accuracy from the final ball if we were going to save anything from the game.

In the second half the boys in uncharacterstic dark blue shirts and red and white socks were kicking towards us. Marvin Johnson hit the woodwork with a cross before a Wing shot was deflected out of danger. Then Lewis Wing controlled the ball after a corner was cleared to the back of the box but his shot went straight down the keeper's throat. That turned out to be only a sighter, as minutes later, urged to shoot by several thousand Teessiders, Wing hammered it from well outside the area and against the post and into the net. How we celebrated, players and fans together. A brilliant moment.

This was the signal for Boro fans to sing their ode to Lewis Wing and his prowess from 20, 30, or indeed 40 yards. This went on and on.. until Brentford shocked us by scoring a deflected goal. It was hard to see from our end whether Pears should have adjusted his feet and if he had thrown the deflection into his own net. The replays prove it was a massive deflection.

Anyway, the Boro fans were not to be so easily disheartened. We had been in fine voice and that was not about to be dampened by conceding the lead again. Boro piled forward once more. Corner. Tav crossed and Fletcher rose high to meet the corner and head home. 2-2 and Boro fans roared their approval. At this stage of end to end football it might easily have ended up 5-5.

With Boro fans singing loudly the We Are Middlesbrough away anthem the team were attacking and threatening to snatch all points. Wing had The Bees defence scrambling before Fletcher turned and hit over. Offside, probably spared his blushes.

Britt was now on alongside Fletcher and he almost scored his first goal of the year when getting his head on a vicious McNair centre that beat the keeper but just eluded Fletcher but also the far post.

Nmecha was now also on the field, and Gestede replaced Fletcher. So Boro were really potent attacking wise but this left us more exposed to overloads down the flanks. Indeed we were really struggling to cope with Brentford's threat down their right where drove past Nmecha time and again but we were holding out. Until that is, with just 3 minutes remaining top scorer Ollie Watkins swept in Norgaard's cross to make it 3-2.

Boro tried to pile the ball forward for Gestede in the remaining few minutes but Brentford kept possession, the home team were not about to let the points slip out of their grasp again.

A really disappointing late killer blow but Boro fans stayed to applaud all the players from the field it had been a truly valiant effort. A team that really do look to have what it takes to challenge for the play offs and perhaps even automatic promotion had completed the double over us.

Apart from the players already mentioned we need to say that Harold Moukoudi performed really well on his debut and to highlight the efforts of George Saville. Time and again he was the player mopping up right across the centre of the park, never afraid to get involved and put his feet in but then also sweeping defence into attack.

In the end another defeat and more points lost. This means Wigan on Tuesday and Luton next Saturday become very important fixtures. We can rotation of players and hopefully also a rotation of points. Let's rediscover that winning feeling again next week.

Brentford 3-2 Middlesbrough- Wing, Fletcher

Griffin Park

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