On Tuesday evening, I made the 20 hour round trip to Griffin Park in London, to watch Brentford v Sheffield United.
Tuesday night’s game was expected to be a cracker and it did certainly live up to expectations. The iconic ground won’t be there for much longer, with the Bee’s hoping to have their brand new 17,000 stadium launched at the start of the 2020/21 season. It was a must visit. It is best known for having a pub on all four corners of the ground, and it is the only football ground in the UK to have this. The hosts came into last night’s game in a horrible run of form and after the defeat it continues to pile huge amounts of pressure on Brentford boss, Thomas Frank, who has now lost six out of his last seven games since taking over, conceding a whopping 14 goals, averaging 2 goals a game.
They have won one game since the middle of September, and for a big team like Brentford, I can understand their frustrations. If the Bees were half as good at defending as they were attacking, they would easily be a play-off side, never mind being in a relegation battle. Visitors, Sheffield United have continued to impress after their fine start to the season, currently sitting fourth in the Sky Bet Championship table, only three points off the leaders, Norwich City.
The South Yorkshire side are real genuine title challengers. They could have called themselves lucky and a bit unlucky on Saturday after their match against Rotherham finished 2-2 at the New York Stadium. They were outclassed by the Millers and threw the lead away twice, with Jamie Proctor coming off the bench to steal a point for the home side.
Brentford made two changes from the 2-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough on Saturday. Yoann Barbet replaced Moses Odubajo at left back while Nico Yennaris was out injured so was replaced by Romaine Sawyers. Sheffield United Boss, Chris Wilder also made two changes from their 2-2 draw at Rotherham on Saturday. Conor Washington replaced Billy Sharp up-front as well as John Lundstram replacing Mark Duffy in midfield
The game got underway at Griffin Park, expecting a slow start, with both teams maybe a bit tired from Saturday’s games.
But I was well and truly long when the Bees opened the scoring after just six minutes, when a beautiful pin-point pass from Romaine Sawyers played Neal Maupay through one-on-one.
The league’s top goal scorer made no mistake as he drilled it hard and low into the back of the net, beating Dean Henderson at his near post. The set the tone for the game as it turned into an absolute thriller. The Blades almost equalised within 30 seconds when Enda Stevens burst down the wing before nicely nutmegging Hendrik Dalsgaard and fired a low drive across the box.
It met the on-running John Fleck, who’s effort came crashing off the Brentford crossbar. The visitors pulled themselves level after 10 minutes when an Oliver Norwood corner seemed to just hit the back of Ezri Konsa’s head and end up in the back of the net. The England U21 international didn’t seem to know much about it. Sheffield United turned the game around remarkably, after only being behind nine minutes ago, when Stevens continued to cause all sorts of problems down the left-hand side before his cross was cleared as far as Kieron Freeman, who set it up for stand-in captain Oliver Norwood, who curled it fantastically into the far corner, leaving Bee’s keeper, Darren Bentley with absolute no chance. What a goal.
Brentford were beginning to hold on a little as David McGoldrick should have made it 3-1 after 23 minutes when a cross from John Fleck fell at the feet of McGoldrick, who’s snapshot was brilliantly pushed away by Bentley to keep the deficit at just one. This was by far the best game of English football I’ve watched since starting my ground-hopping.
The Bees began to pick up some steam as we headed towards the interval. Firstly after 32 minutes, Sergio Canos jinked around a few Blades defenders before firing his effort into the packed out away end.
The final chance of an action-packed first half came on the 43rd minute when a couple of half-chances fell Brentford’s way. United struggled to clear in the 18-yard box, before the ball fell to Canos, who once again curled over.
Half-Time- Brentford 1-2 Sheffield United
The second half got underway with it continuing to be, all action after a couple of shots were blocked before McGoldrick whipped in an effort which just drifted by the post. There were huge shouts for a spot kick for the home side after 63 minutes when Maupay went down under a challenge from Jack O’Connell, but it was waved away by referee, Steve Martin.
The hosts were level on the 65th minute when a low cross from Dalsgaard went straight to Sawyers who beat Lundstram and fired a low driven cross which deflected off John Fleck and into the back of the net. It was game on at Griffin Park with 25 minutes remaining. Once again after pulling a goal back the home side were nearly behind 30 seconds later. This time John Fleck crossed it for substitute, Leon Clarke who found himself free 6 yards from goal, however the Blades striker diverted his effort wide. He simply had to score. The story of Brentford’s season continued when they once again fell behind through a poor goal.
The Bees switched off from a throw-in allowing Washington to break free down the line, before firing a cross for Clarke to side-foot home, in-front of the travelling Sheffield support.
The hosts pressed forward in search of an equaliser and they almost got that, five minutes from the death when Alan Judge’s volley went inches wide of Henderson’s goal. The Blades stood tall and dealt with everything Bee’s sent forward to claim all 3 points in Brentford.
Full-Time: Brentford 2-3 Sheffield United
Bentley, Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet, McEachran(77), Sawyers, Judge, McLeod(77), Canos(53), Maupay
Subs- Daniels, Obubajo(77), Clarke, DaSilva(77), Henry, Marcondes(53), Oksanen
Sheffield United XI
Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Freeman, Lundstram(67), Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Washington(77), McGoldrick(60)
Subs- Moore, Duffy, Johnson, Stearman, Coutts(67), Clarke(60), Sharp(77)
Referee- Steve Martin
Assistants- Andrew Fox & Ian Cooper
Fourth Official- Andy Davis
Attendance- 8,903(1,301 Away)
Goals- Maupay(6), Konsa OG(10), Norwood(15), Fleck OG(65), Clarke(72)
Yellow Cards- Basham(17), McEachran(69),
Red Cards- 0