As if the drama at the GTech wasn’t enough, there’s one last twist in the tail from TF towers – a debut on match report duty from Grace Laidler! Take it away, Grace…
Oh man, what a game of two halves! I could write the shortest report match report possible with a very simple summary: first half shite, second half dynamite. But, seeing as the game wasn’t on TV and this is my first-ever report, I’ll give it a bit more colour.
During the first half, I jotted down the simple phrase: ‘Teams change.’ I’d gone into this game riding on the high of Wednesday and Sunday, thinking we’d turn Brentford over like we did earlier this season. On the flip side, I’d gone into West Ham thinking the Hammers would give us a run about. But, as mentioned, teams change. This was not the Brentford of the 5-1 battering at St James’. No, this was a Brentford mounting a serious challenge for Europe.
Within the first few minutes, it was clear to see that Brentford were a force to be reckoned with, unsettling the team and the crowd. A couple of silly mistakes can be chalked down to settling-in nerves. But Brentford kept pressing, culminating in Jansson putting Toney through to score.
There is no worse sound than hearing the roar of the opposition’s crowd as the ball sails into the back of our net. However, in this pantomime that we call a football match, a quiet ‘ooooo’ murmured around the away end as the screens above us flashed ‘checking VAR for offside.’ And then, that little red square appeared, a whistle blew, and our end exploded. We had a clean slate. Time to reset and refocus.
And then Burn got skinned, and Botman committed the daftest and most desperate challenge he possibly could’ve. Although I thought he still had a great game, that was pretty damn stupid.
And so, as Toney stepped up to take it, everyone had resigned that it was as good as in already. But then, if you can believe it, the Pope performed a miracle! We cheered as if we’d scored ourselves. Another clean slate. Would we take our chances?
I would like to say that it was unanimous amongst the Newcastle crowd that the first penalty was a clear, stonewall penalty. But the opinion on the second penalty was quite the opposite. In fact, the supposed ‘foul’ happened so fast that I practically missed the incident and only saw the replay once the penalty had been declared. It was nothing. One of those you’d genuinely hate to see conceded against you.
Unfortunately, it was a bit much to ask the Pope to perform two miracles, so Toney’s shot flew in and Brentford were 1-0 up at half-time. Were they the better team? Sure. But was that penalty deserved? Definitely not. And the only way you can change my mind is by throwing the FA rule book at me.
At this point, halfway through my report, I would like to point out that London was absolutely boiling. I was in a puffer coat, sweating to death, supping my water like there was no tomorrow. However, something about the heat must’ve transferred into all the players because as the second half began, it was clear that a spark had been lit under their arses. Either that or Eddie (or rather Tindall) had breathed fire on them.
We shot straight out of the traps and pressed Brentford immediately, resulting in a goal from Big Joe. Despite the fact that it has subsequently been credited as Raya’s own goal, the crowd singing the Brazilian’s name shows you where the recognition should go.
Things got better as Isak buried a wonder goal, taking us up to 2-1, a feat that looked far away in the first half. Part of this is down to the super subs that Eddie carried on at half-time: Gordon for Murphy and Wilson for Longstaff, a change in shape a major factor in the change in momentum.
I can report that Gordon shows a lot of promise. We were really missing the creativity and spark of Maxi in the first half, considering he’s a player we all debate about the most. Whilst he’s no Maxi (yet), Gordon definitely added some energy and created an immediate impact against the pacey Brentford side. He did leave the pitch to be replaced by Ritchie in the last minute, so I hope he’s fit because I think he’ll continue to get better and better in the coming weeks. As for Wilson, he and Isak together are the stuff of defenders’ nightmares, and Eddie’s decision to have them both on at the same time was enough to send the fear of God into Brentford, and from a superb cross, our number nine scored his 3rd in 3 games.
And then yet another VAR check, and the goal it was overturned for handball. I swear, I know the media types like to think that we’re the time-wasting darlings, but I would love to read a report about how much time each club wastes versus the time that the VAR checks take. The numbers would rack up!
We had a bit of a lull towards the end of the game where Brentford got a bit of their composure back, and we could’ve done with a third, but Hey Ho. Anderson got a run-out, which is always well-received. The final whistle blew, and we left the Brentford Community Stadium with three points!
This game had it all. Offsides, penalties, handballs. Even with the shocking lack of cards, it was box office viewing that Sky would’ve been kicking themselves to have missed.
It was a great day out, even when you’re screwing up the words to a new Willock-themed song and having to decipher the tube map like it’s hieroglyphics (Vauxhall? Kew Bridge? South Ealing? Gunnersbury? Who knows??). But as I sit here writing my first report, sweltering in a pizza shop in King’s Cross, I realise that whilst Brentford truly are European hopefuls, we are something even more. We are going to go above and beyond.
And yes, sometimes we aren’t the greatest; sometimes we have to scrap, and sometimes we have to fight. But I wouldn’t change the first half – because that means we couldn’t have the second!