Logic vs Emotion

BRENTFORD 3 MIDDLESBROUGH 2

Football League Championship

It was a long long day, but a quite enjoyable one.

Leaving home before 7am to head into Manchester city centre and sample my first ever experience of National Express, and so we headed off to London. Following Virgin Trains’ demise the cost of train tickets to the capital has shot up dramatically, taking the coach may well be my new way of heading to games down south.

We arrived ahead of schedule and after grabbing a bite to eat I jumped on a train changing at Clapham Junction before heading over to Brentford. The station is about a 10 minutes stroll from Griffin Park, Brentford’s home for another few months. Their move to a new home nearby is imminent, and a last chance to visit The Bees home of 116 years, the third oldest Football League ground in London, a tag that will pass to Loftus Road.

As with every such move it must be a hard decision to make, but one that I am sure will benefit the club in the long run. Also be another new ground for me when I get round to visiting, but until the summer I have 69 grounds left to visit to complete the top 4 leagues.

So I took my seat in the Braemar Road Upper Stand on a weird seat on the back row in the aisle, more than a little uncomfortable, but it served its purpose. Out came the sides into a sun bathed West London afternoon. It took a little while for the teams to get going and it was the hosts that nearly broke the deadlock, Mbeumo swinging in a cross to the far post from the right wing, somehow Benrahma kept it in play nodding it back to DaSilva his header hit the post before squirming goalbound. Somehow Fry cleared it off the line.

Midway through the half the hosts took the lead. A corner was swung in deep Pinnock nodded it back in Jeanvier poked the ball goalbound, this time Saville cleared, a scramble was then interrupted by the referee pointing to his watch to let everyone know that technology had advised Saville hadn’t cleared it before it crossed the line. 1-0. Other than a fair bit of huff and puff that was the half.

After changing the board down from 9 games to go at their current home down to 8 the sides came back out and the match got going in earnest. Woodgate, he of own goal and red card on his debut for Real Madrid, must have inspired his players with his words, because they looked a different side.

Firstly, Johnson’s left wing cross curled over Raya and back off the post before Wing went close twice for Boro. It wasn’t all one way as the Bees looked dangerous on the break, though it was the visitors who struck next on the hour and it was Wing who finally got his reward. Picking the ball up 30 yards out he was given so much time to advance and pick his spot beating Raya and the ball settling in the back of the net via  the upright. Cue limbs galore in the away end. 1-1. It was a short-lived parity. Boro failed to clear their lines and Mbeumo struck instantly, his shot taking a wicked deflection off Moukoudi, Pears in the visiting goal was unlucky in not stopping the ball crossing the line. 2-1.

Five minutes later and we were level again. A Boro corner from the right found Fletcher. His header found the back of the net. Boro fans rejoiced. 2-2.

Both sides went for it. Either side looked like they could win it. Brentford took their opportunity when it came. Norgaard on a rare venture forward crossed and the ball broke kindly for Watkins. He finished. 3-2. That was that.

I headed off home as Storm Ciara started to hit these shores, finally arriving home after midnight. A very good day and quite cheap too.

Attendance: 12,285

Moment of the Match: The raw emotion of a full away end when they score. Twice.

Match Tunes: Fanfare for the Comic Muse – The Divine Comedy

Happy Endings

BRADFORD CITY 1 NEWPORT COUNTY 0

Football League Two

Following a late change of plan due to reasons that I will not go into here, I was left looking for a new adventure. So three games picked as alternatives, the choice would be picked by whichever bus turned up first. Valley Parade, as I and most of the footy world know it has been on my list for a while, and so when the number 15 turned up a short bus ride followed by a tram to Victoria Station. Ten minutes later than scheduled we set off over the hills to Bradford.

Arrival kept down to the same ten minutes delay a 25 minutes stroll to City’s home followed with a fair number of police along the route and I was at my destination. After exchanging some money for a ticket I made my way inside to be greeted by a Salvation Army Brass Band and two of the most pleasant females serving at a kiosk that I have ever encountered inside a football ground.

I was told as a kid by my Gran that if I didn’t have anything good to say then it was better saying nothing at all. So after the sides came out for the second half a football match finally started. The home fans had finally found their voice, and drum, and things started to happen. County went close with their first effort of the game, before City took the lead. County’s Inniss passed back from must be 50 yards out, those of us on the upper tiers could see Vaughan waiting, he pounced, with all the time in the world he went round the visiting keeper Townsend. The keeper pulled Vaughan down, was lucky to get away with a yellow. Vaughan dispatched. 1-0.

The yellow card was a decision that was to keep the score down to just the one goal. City kicked on and the Welsh side’s stopper was in form, two great saves keeping the Bantams out. So the only other thing of note was due to the number of players with head injuries, mostly County, we finished with 9 minutes of added on time. Though this saw a return to the first half standard. Off I trundled into the dark Christmas lit night and my train and follow-on journey home.

Attendance: 14,016

Moment of the Match: The half-time whistle! Put an end to the worst 45 minutes of football I have seen in a long time. If not ever.

Match Tunes: His ‘N’ Hers – Pulp