Millwall 2-3 Brentford ~ Pitch side Ponderings

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I have been taking a bit of a sabbatical from writing, those of you reading this who actually know me will know the reasons why, perhaps, and as with any form of grief only time and tears heal the wounds that are left because that is what time and tears are for.

I have still been contributing to the CBL mag but my passion for droning on by putting finger tips (at least two of them) to keyboard keys has dwindled of late.

So I am dipping my toe back into the pool again to test the waters of my verbosity and see if I can hold your attention while trying to give my thoughts on the Brentford game an airing.

Of course, the day itself was always going to be foreshadowed by the unique camouflage kit and the guests from Headley Court marking the 100 year anniversary of the Great War and of course, not just remembering the fallen heroes but also the ones that survived any conflict we as a nation have been involved in and some of those brave people took to the field before the game to receive a splendid reception by the Millwall crowd as well as the 1200 or so who had made the short trip from west London.

It was emotional and it was correct and the minutes silence was immaculate as you would expect.

I did notice, however, that the Millwall team seemed more focused on this side of things than Brentford. Now that is not a dig at either side, just an observation and I was left wondering whether or not our heads might not be entirely focused on the game ahead?

Mr Holloway had again made changes, some enforced, some needed and some for reasons only he will know. Forde in goal, Briggs, Shittu, Beevers and Dunne across the back with Williams, Chaplow, Martin and Gueye in midfield with Gregory just in front of them that left Fuller up front on his own.

The referee got the game going and we made a sluggish start or maybe Brentford were just sharper, using the width and with a team bursting with confidence which sadly, we didn’t. But having said that, the first real chance of the game came when we managed to string a couple of passes together which saw Gregory get on the end of a Martin pass but the final effort was never going to threaten the Bees goal.

The slicker play was coming from the visitors, we were labouring a bit and getting caught out with the same tactic every time, wide balls, splitting our defence and it nearly paid dividends for the Bees when Odubajo cut inside from the left flank and hit a shot that just flew wide of Fordes despairing dive and also just wide of the post, fortunately for us.

Fuller was cutting a lonely figure at times as Gregory was playing too deep to offer him any assistance but he still had enough about him to leave erstwhile Millwall defender Craig in a cloud of four star as he hurtled past him down the right hand side and our hopes were raised when he found a cross field pass to Gueye who got his shot away but it was deflected out for a corner.

We again fell for the old ‘take a corner and then watch the visitors counter attack’ ploy. Brentford had more men forward than we had defenders but they still managed to cock it up with Jota firing hopelessly high with the goal at his mercy.

We looked jaded, almost disinterested at times and our lack of concentration was patently obvious when Gray was left to his own devices as our lot just watched like a bunch of slack jawed yokels but despite having no real threat from our defenders he still managed to iss the target.
It was frustrating to watch at times and dare I say it, reminiscent of the Lomas era as we failed to get any semblance of football going, it was backs to wall to most of the half with keystone kop defending at times as Brentford just seemed to have more about them.

Beevers made a last ditch tackle to prevent a certain goal but it was Beevers at fault in the first place and almost straight after we watched Dunne make a similar intervention to stop a cross from coming into the danger area with Brentford players queueing up to score from it.

We rarely ventured forward, I think we had a chance with Martin forcing a save from Button in the Brentford goal after Gueye and Briggs had combined to get the ball over but it was all far too easy for Brentford.

Brentford were coming forward in waves, it was hard to watch at times as we looked completely outclassed and as the half time approached it felt good to be able to go in with the score still at 0-0. But then of course, disaster struck. Another decent move by the visitors saw our defence all over the place, Pritchard picked out Gray who simply controlled the ball with no visible effort and slid the ball under the body of Forde and into the back of the net 0-1. And everyone saw it coming.

The half ended soon after and that old familiar ‘Lomas chorus’ ( that’s booing to you and me) rang out around the Den like a death knell for the dishevelled Lions as they trudged off the pitch.

The half time entertainment was taken up a notch by Chris Bethall as the big bouncy balls usual on show were replaced by big bouncy boobs as the Millwall lionesses took on the Army Medical Services ladies footballers in a cross bar challenge. (Note to Mr Bethall…the acronym is AMS as in Army Medical Services, not AWS as you kept repeating which is an acronym for Alright Mate, Sweeeet)

The AMS won 2-1 and it was, as I say, more entertaining than the usual kids falling over in a big balloon while we get “ten seconds…fifteen seconds…23 seconds…” as the running commentary J

I guess watching two flies dancing the fandango around a light would have been more entertaining than the first half of football we had just watched so maybe my view of the half time fayre was slightly prejudiced.

Mr Holloway saw fit to keep the same shambolic line up for the second half so the fans that are in the “he is as mad a s a box of frogs” camp might have a point but nevertheless, they started the half as they finished the first, defending like a bunch of strangers.

It was ten minutes of utter frustration before Brentford worked the same combo on us, Pritchard – Gray- Goal. It was a slip by Gueye in midfield when he had possession that started the move, Pritchard pounced and slid the ball through to Gray who had no real worries as he slipped the ball past the exposed Forde. 0-2. How familiar this now seems, all we need now was yet another comeback…

Of course, Mr Holloway had to react and he did this by immediately blaming Gueye and dragged him off and sent on McDonald.

Genius move some might say but not me. McDonald should have been on from the start.

Whether or not the substitution was the catalyst for what happened next we may never know but we witness a ridiculously mental spell of football that saw the Lions transformed into a completely different side. Within a minute we had pulled a goal back.

A shortish type corner saw the ball floated in to the far post area where Shittu rose like a water buffalo and the ball bounced off the top of his head and gently floated over everyone towards the opposite post and although byefernow Les announced that Shittu had scored the general consensus of opinion where we were was that Gregory got his arse to it and helped it over the line, Whatever way you dress it up, it was suddenly 1-2 and the ridiculous notion that yet another comeback was on the cards looked promising.

It actually looked more than promising as not even 2 minutes had elapsed when we equalised…I know, fucking madness, aint it, but there you go, it happened, Alan Dunne, careering forward like a desperate escapee from the looney bin picked the ball up just outside the box from a Martin pass and shuffled his feet and drove the ball solidly along the floor and into the back of the net. 2-2!! You couldn’t make this up. We had gone from being complete no hopers to match saving diamonds in the space of two minutes.

We had finally got our act together and we should have taken the lead soon after the equalise as we worked the ball down the left flank, McDonald finding Briggs on the overlap and his cross found Gregory in the middle and he rose unchallenged but thumped his header solidly against the post and the ball was cleared.

But of course, the joy was short lived, Brentford still looked dangerous and just after the hour mark they capitalised on a dreadfully weak header from the normally robust Shittu saw the ball drop invitingly for the Bees and with a quick move we were suddenly exposed and as the ball was crossed across the face of our goal a despairing lunge from Shittu saw him cannon the ball past Forde and into the back of our net. 2-3. Back to reality.

We improved slightly but that was more a case of Brentford shutting up shop and we were reduced to hitting shots from distance that lacked any sort of accuracy or meaning.

It got farcical on around the seventy minute mark as Mr Holloway brought on Renegie for Beevers (???) and went for a three up front type of formation but I agree with a bloke who was in one of the boxes behind us when he said with no fear of contradiction, “If that long streak of paralysed piss is a striker then my cock is a bloater”. A fair point well made, I thought.

Renegie went on to prove how fucking useless he is by missing three clear cut chances that even Jimmi Abdou would have finished. A free header straight to the ‘keeper was probably the worst of the three but his attempted volley again under no pressure and only about ten yards out and centre of goal would reduce even the moist stoic of fans to call for this poor excuse for a player to never darken our doors again.

Perhaps Dunne should have netted his second and our equaliser when with about ten minutes to play he managed to get his head to a deep deep cross from Martin but his attempt went wide and that really was about it apart from the final substitution which saw Upson replace the ineffective Chaplow for the final five minutes or so and you had to wonder again why Chaplow got the nod over him in the first place.

Brentford did have the ball in the net for a possible fourth but the linesman had his flag up so it was ruled out and for once, I have to admit begrudgingly, that if it had counted then it would not had been too far from a fair reflection on the game as a whole.

The final whistle had fans scrambling for the phones to see what damage had been done to us in the league standings and it did not look too promising. Down to 18th and only 2 points from the third berth of the relegation places. It has an oh so familiar look to it for us as we contemplate a long hard winter in front of us.

The main problem with us at the moment, I believe, is that our Manager doesn’t think there is a problem. It is like that scene in Midnight Express where the poor sap is in the mental patients wing of the prison and they are all shuffling around in a circle and he decides to walk the opposite way to all the others and an inmate tries to tell him but he refuses to listen and is told “ah, the broken machine doesn’t realise he is broken”.

I am not advocating a change in our manager, the Gods of football know that I reckon he is about as good a manager as we are likely to attract, but he needs to settle on a starting eleven that he is satisfied with, the infernal tinkering and changing is not helping anyone, player or fan and the frustrating thing is that you can see there is something there but it is never a continuous theme.

The two week break has come at a bad time, too long to reflect, too long to ponder, and then Charlton away followed by Bournemouth away… My biggest fear is that we will be in the relegation zone for Christmas…

The tide swell of our fickle fans has already turned and if Mr Holloway thinks he has had a tough time in his career at any point then I fear he is in for a very rude awakening if things don’t improve soon.

“True friends stab you in the front” Oscar Wilde
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    Excellent review FF. Good to have you back sir.