Monday, 11 August 2014

Sub Smith's Late Sting Thwarts Perfect Start

9/8/14 Brentford 1-1 Charlton Athletic
Good Evening/Morning & first of all apologies for the late arrival of my post match first game thoughts!
I attended the community shield yesterday with some Arsenal mates hence the delay in me writing up a review. So sorry if it seems rushed and bad punctuation!

So the first game of the season... Did it it live up to the hype and expectation we all hoped for?

Well a London derby kicked us off, And as many of you may know a Charlton away day in West London = Boat Trip!! I was one of around 3-400 fans that embarked on the boat towards Griffin Park, despite me living in West London and having to travel past Brentford to come back again 4 hours later... Madness i know! But i couldn't pass up on a perfect way to start the new campaign with a scenic view of London a few beers and enjoying it with mates discussing our upcoming season.
The view from Greenwich Pier
 Although the weather doesn't look so great in the photo our two boats enjoyed good weather on our trip down the Thames. We obviously passed many recognisable sights en route, one of them including new boys to the championship Fulham. Unfortunately thanks to SKY our game has been moved to a Friday night so we may not replicate our fantastic support there last visit.
Craven Cottage - En route to Brentford
The boat arrived at Kew pier at around 1pm, one of the highlights of the trip was spotting Charlton super fan Seb Lewis who performed his famous worm dance to the delight of his fellow Charlton fans ... But maybe less so to the bemused diners outside a quite well to do pub in West London! Arriving in good time meant for a trip to the Pilot just over Kew Bridge in Gunnersbury , where the BBQ outside was well & truly taken care of! 

Brentford station is very much like Charlton station where there is only around a 5 minute walk to the ground. Griffin Park is infamous for its stat of the only football ground in the country (Probably the world) to have a pub on every corner, if only we were to have such a vast array to choose from around The Valley! Ended up getting to the ground around 45 minutes  before kick off so was able to have a quick drink in The Griffin the pub situated on the corner of the ground nearest to the away end. The pub was a mixture of home & away fans with a bit of sing song but no trouble which was nice to see.

I can imagine that most teams supporters in the championship are looking forward to there visit to Griffin Park this season as Brentford are the only team in the league to still have terracing. The terracing does provide more of an atmosphere in the ground and would be great to see more grounds in the future implicating safe standing areas. Brentford do provide a seating area too in the top tier of the away end but with the leg room leaving your knees up by your shoulders.

Griffin Park 5 Mins before Kick Off
 As i took my place on the terracing I was welcomed by the news of an unchanged team from the team that faced Portsmouth a week earlier. Henderson again took up his place in between the sticks, Solly Bikey Ben Haim & Wiggins completed the back four. Gudmundsson Jackson Buyens & Cousins provided a diamond esque style midfield. Up front was new duo Vetokele & Tucudean. Not too much of a surprising team sheet although I did expect Morrison to partner Bikey in central defence as he has more experience and is more familiar with Solly & Wiggins unlike Ben Haim.

The game started promising for The Bees with Spurs loanee Alex Pritchard becoming a key player and causing problems for the Charlton defence. The main area for me which was worrying early on was the defences lack of communication which resulted in a few arguments in the back four, as Brentfords passing and crossing abilities shone which resulted in Henderson coming for and missing the ball a few times but fortunately for us Brentford's poor end product let them down. Good to see that the Charlton defence voiced there opinions to each other & it helped as we then grew more into the game. Although against a team with more proven finishers we would've seen ourselves a few goals down. 

Although Brentford for me did have the better of the 1st half, the best chance of the half fell to new striker George Tucudean fed through by a sublime pass from Gudmundsson a great first touch from the Romanian left him with just the keeper to beat,  but his shot was straight at the oncoming Brentford keeper a chance he really should have scored. The teams went into the interval goalless with Brentford on top. Henderson made a great save towards the end of the first half which was great to see him growing more confident as the game went on.

We came out for the second half a much more determined team a wonderful Chris Solly cross was met by a firm header from Vetokele which produced a fine save from former Charlton keeper David Button who pushed it onto the post. The constant pressure paid off and we took the lead in the 63rd minute from a fine corner from Captain Jackson and Vetokele finished with a header into the corner. As a side note as Jackson went to take the corner I saw Vetokele shout to him and point to him where he wanted it and Jackson duly provided! 

As the game went on Vetokele proved to be more of a threat to the Brentford defence, a mistimed back pass from Douglas saw Igor nip in with a slide tackle on Button he quickly set up Harriott with only a defender in his way from the edge of the box Harriott's effort rebounded of the bar and then fired wildly over, would've surely been game over!

Brentford then took charge of the game once again & equalised with six minutes to go new signing Tommy Smith cut inside Chris Solly and his shot deflected in off Ben Haim.. No chance for Henderson. Brentford carried on bombarding our goal for the final few minutes as a free kick from Judge cannoned of the crossbar & we were left to breathe a sigh of relief!  1-1 Final score.
Charlton fans applaud there team off at the final whistle

A quick summary there of the game, it really was a end to end game with a draw in my opinion a fair result as both teams had good chances to each take the three points.
A quick view points on player performances.
Henderson - A shaky start but really grew into the game. Could do nothing about the goal as it took a big deflection of Ben Haim. In the second half he really took charge of the crosses and had more of a relationship with his defence
Solly - Proved good coming forward and his usual solid tackles in defence. Although was maybe at fault for the equaliser letting Smith cut inside and get his shot away. Unlike Solly.
Bikey - Again really grew into the game and could prove to be a big signing for us this season proved really powerful in the air and with some well timed tackles. Once he gets more of a relationship going with his defence will prove to be more key.
Ben Haim - Had a quiet game really didn't do much wrong in my opinion apart from being caught out of position a few times in the first half
Wiggins- Normally a big threat coming forward let himself down with some poor crossing
Gudmundsson - Showed some real signs of things to come when he ran at the defence and great pass which should have led to the 1st goal, needs to be more consistent but maybe played out of posistion
Buyens - Really impressed by him again worked so hard in the middle and kept the ball moving throughout. But expect him to be the first player serving a suspension.
Jackson - A quiet game from Jacko but his fine corner led to the goal.
Cousins - Playing in and then out of position from central midfield to right then left wing worked hard and had a decent game.
Tucudean - Shouldve scored early on in the game, otherwise didn't really notice him.
Vetokele - Got to be man of the match a constant menace to the Bees defence. As the guy behind me said is this what we've been after since Darren Bent?
Harriott - Did miss a good chance lets hope this doesn't bring his confidence down after he did so well at the end of last season.

Home Fans - Brentford loud support was at the opposite end of the ground from us so any noise they did make didn't echo its way through to us. They did set off a smoke bomb for the equaliser and then threw it on the pitch which caused a delay in the game. Was surprised to see there first game back in the championship didn't result in them selling out though. 

Away Fans - We sold out the away end within an hour of going on sale & were in good voice throughout.

Moan of match - Although being able to watch the game from the terracing is great but paying £25 for the privilege is not. Wigan fans attending The Valley this forthcoming Saturday are being charged £24 for a 10x better view. 

Moment of the match - Has to be Igor Vetokele opening his account for the season and the teams first goal of the campaign, first of many we hope!

Overall I think if you would've asked me before the game I would've taken a point just a shame that we let it slip with six minutes to go.  First game of the season is always unpredictable especially with our current team who haven't played together as much. We have probably played Brentford at the worst time of the season there still high on confidence from last season & they saw where we finished and thought they 'd be able to nick a win.

On to tonight's game against Colchester, with three games in seven days and two difficult home games against promotion hopefuls Wigan & Derby, I can see Peeters choosing maybe a totally different team this evening in an attempt to keep the team fresh. I think the team will be 

Cant wait to see the ground and the excellent work that's been carried out over the summer!