Brentford 1 : Derby County 1 – 26th September 2017

A few thoughts on Tuesday night’s gritty, resilient draw/depressing horror show*(delete where applicable).
Five changes. It seemed necessary after what I’d heard of the Brum game & four of the changes were perfectly logical. Winnall & Bennett deserved starts after their sterling substitute appearances against Brum. As much I’ve grown to love Bairdinho, you’ve just got to have Wisdom in the side & by all accounts Olsson was awful on Saturday, so Fozzy was worth a go. 
Johnson in as a false nine was a bit left field but it sort of made sense if we were going to try for a smash & grab, then park the bus/see the game out type of performance (ok – tone down the cliches..). 
No place in the squad for former GR favourite, Russell. No place for Anya (nobodies favourite but mine, apparently). God knows what’s gone on there but freezing players out does restrict our options somewhat.
Ledley was in for his first start & that’s another reason Johnson had to be accommodated elsewhere, I suppose. Ledley got the goal after 15 minutes & it looked pretty easy, from our vantage point at the front of the terrace, over the other side of the ground. He was in the right place at the right time when the ball came to him in the box – I suppose that is what experience gets you. Not sure what he contributed after that but at least he stayed on the pitch for 83 minutes. He’s got a lean look about him, he may not have played competitive football since February but he’s obviously kept in shape. Perhaps he’ll make more of a contribution with each game. What I do know is that Huddlestone certainly needs someone alongside him who’s mobile, powerful and will work hard. Maybe that will be Ledley. 
Brentford have had a tough start to the season but they were good. Apart from Ryan Woods, all ginger hair & shuffling, efficient passing, I didn’t recognise a single one of them. They can’t have cost much but there were some decent players out there. All in the usual, nippy, skilful Brentford mould. All comfortable receiving and passing the ball effectively. Imagine if we had that consistency..  
Our performance for the first half hour was ok, at least we had some possession in the Brentford half. Then Wisdom, Woods & Johnson got involved in what, in hindsight, was a turning point. Wisdom got into a scrap with one of Brentford’s wide players, a melee ensued & three bookings later, the home team & fans were riled up. That was it. We lost any sort of composure we had, any fluidity (however limited) to our passing disappeared & we started to simply lump the ball randomly out of defence. I felt sorry for poor Winnall up front on his own, he was playing with scraps. 
Wisdom, Keogh and Davis all seemed to have robust, sound games but nothing creative was coming out of defence. No dashes down the wing from Fozzy or Wisdom, no charges out of central defence from Keogh and hoofball at its finest from all of them. It was all very deep, we barely bothered to advance further than the 18 yard box at times. If we did, we soon lost possession again & Brentford were straight back on us again. 
Weimann was abysmal, Lawrence at least tried but nothing came off. My only recollection of Johnson was him nearly getting lamped in the fracas with Woods. Huddlestone was a worry. Obviously, a few great passes but he desperately needs some support so he can focus on creating rather than ponderously chasing the opposition. Nugent at least held the ball up a bit when he came on. Vydra was almost invisible apart from when he skyed a free kick about 100 yards over the bar in the dying minutes.
Brentford dominated the rest of the game & passed us off the park. The space they had in midfield If it wasn’t for an obvious lack of a cutting edge up front, they would have slaughtered us. 
A point away is never a bad result however the equaliser had an air of complete & utter inevitability about it. Nobody I was near to in away end could believe we weren’t being soundly beaten. The atmosphere was dead from the middle of the second half until the end. After the final whistle blew, most of the fans had disappeared before Rowett & the team trudged over to the dressing room.
I’ve see a few Derby fans since full time saying that a point was a good result & if we’d only held on everyone would have been ecstatic. I don’t think so. The draw was completely accidental. The standard of our football was dreadful. Play like that again & we’ll be defeated regularly. 
Onwards & upwards.


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