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Thread: Brentford 2 United 3 - report

  1. #1
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    Brentford 2 United 3 - report

    The Blades got back to winning ways with a gutsy and deserved 3-2 win at Griffin Park. In what in all likelihood could be United’s last visit to this old ground, United suffered an awful start when Maupay scored inside the first 5 minutes but responded well and should have levelled even before an own goal restored parity. A superb Olly Norwood goal made it 2-1 and David McGoldrick missed chances in both halves to effectively settle the game but another own goal this time for the home side saw parity restored. United came again and after Clarke missed a sitter, he was able to expertly turn in the excellent Connor Washington’s low cross and the Blades were back in front. A few nervy moments at the death but United saw this one out and got a big three points to stop the recent rot in terms of results and performances.

    Manager Wilder sprang two big surprises; not in terms of the fact he changes his starting eleven but that he brought in John Lundstram and Connor Washington for Mark Duffy and Billy Sharp. George Baldock was ill and Leon Clarke not deemed fit to start. It was a concern where the creativity and goals would come from in the starting eleven. Opponents Brentford had been in really poor form with only one win since September and had plummeted down the table after a good start to the season but featured leading scorer Neil Maupay.

    The game began with both team zipping it about in the wet conditions but it was not long before United were behind.

    The ball was played forward and no challenge came into Saywers as he advanced. Egan seemed to lose his man and as the ball ran across his body, MAUPAY hit a shot on the angle into the near side of Henderson’s goal and it squeezed in. It was poor play to stop the ball coming forward and then the defending and goalkeeping were both sub-standard. After a disastrous end to Saturday; it was not the start United wanted.

    Undeterred, United came back and nice interchange down the left saw the ball played into Stevens who cleverly cut inside and hit a low cross. The ball came over and Lundstram came onto the ball and hit it firmly but it smashed against the bar, down and then was cleared. Unfortunate on this occasion, they maybe had a touch of fortune not long after when they got level inside 10 minutes.

    It came from a corner, a rarity in itself for United. Norwood whipped over a delivery and it was glanced home by KONSA giving Bentley no chance. The delivery was superb and made it very difficult for the defence to deal with. O’Connell jogged back and clearly did not celebrate or try and claim it as his own goal despite being closest to the defender.

    United were clearly showing much more commitment and some hefty tackles were being put in by Norwood and Fleck. United recycled possession twice and turned it the other way and now were on top. Nice play almost saw Washington get in and then Fleck and Stevens combined but the ball was cleared. Soon after on 15 minutes the Blades were in front and it was a stunning goal.

    Freeman played the ball into the path of NORWOOD and he came onto it and side footed the ball but got real power and whip on his shot from fully 25 yards and it arrowed right into the top corner. It was a sublime effort and even some Brentford fans behind goal sportingly applauded.

    Basham went into the book for a poor challenge on Maupay as he fell to the floor. This was to be a theme as the centre forward must know the turf very well at Griffin Park as he spends an awful lot of time on it. Judge took the free kick but Egan cleared and United were back on the attack and were now in control. A set play was not cleared and the ball fell for McGoldrick. His effort was saved by Bentley. This was a really good chance to make it 3-1.

    Fleck gave away two free kicks and United were determined to stop the dangerous Judge and Sawyers causing problems after giving them too much space to start the game. United were now using the ball well and Washington was a real threat with his running down the channels giving them something different with pace and movement. United won two more corners but these were under and overplayed by Norwood. These were two rare moments for the midfielder who had been the best player on the pitch first half.

    The inconsistency of the officiating came out when Norwood was tripped in an even more dangerous position than the Basham foul soon after but no card came out. The football in the build up to this foul was superb and showed United were back at it with zipping, one touch clever triangles. Norwood’s effort was whipped to the left-hand side but as with the effort against Wednesday the keeper guessed his intentions and got across to save.

    Maupay kicked out at Stevens after he felt he was fouled and was rightly penalised but somehow escaped a yellow card in another bizarre referring decision. Brentford had committed two worse fouls in position and intent but neither had got booked.

    Sawyers and Maupay had a few efforts blocked as United kept their shape and then Canos whipped a shot over as United had to defend for the final few minutes. The half time whistle came and the Blades will have been delighted with a much better performance so far both on and off the ball. The boos from the Brentford fans said it all who had started so well but had been second best after this goal.

    The second half saw United come out and continue to have control. They won another early corner and then soon after McGoldrick had two chances and after miskicking the first one; he had an effort deflected wide straight after. United won another corner and were looking for the crucial third goal.

    Brentford made a change with Marcondes replacing Canos and slowly they started inch back into the game. Barbot had a shot off target and then Sawyers shot wide. Egan had a header from another set play blocked at the other end. McGoldrick had not really had his best of nights and Clarke came on for him on the hour.

    Brentford were now coming back into it and Freeman was once again guilty of not clearing the ball properly and giving his man too much space. Two crosses came over and United cleared but you sensed the danger building and so it proved.

    Sawyers had been an ever-increasing threat and the ball was played across the United defence and with runners over; the defence was stretched. The ball was a dangerous one and flicked off FLECK and into the far corner giving Henderson no chance. You feared for United now after they had played so well and the home side sensed an unlikely win after being second best most of the game.

    Immediately after; as with the first Brentford goal though; United came back and almost scored. Fleck sent a delightful cross over and Clarke somehow nodded wide right in front of goal. It was a sitter.

    Coutts came on for Lundstram but at this stage United probably did not know whether to stick or twist as Brentford were now looking a threat with some neat and tidy football stretching United’s defence. They did break out when Washington did very well again and burst away from McEacharan cynically hacked him down. The striker somehow got up and tried to turn the ball in but it was blocked behind. The booking came after the advantage had been allowed. To be honest the challenge was that brutal it must have been close to a red card.

    Egan headed wide on the stretch from the corner and then Fleck had a decent effort saved. United seemed to be coming again and at a ***** time got the 5th goal of the game. Washington once again was a big factor as he was played in down the right. He pulled it back intelligently and CLARKE superbly side footed calmly into the corner. After missing a sitter earlier; he scored a much harder choice and with his wrong foot. It was a well-made and taken goal.

    United now knew they had the win again tantalisingly close and sought to defend. They got bodies in the way. Odubajo and Da Silva came on for McEacharan and MacLeod as Brentford made their final changes. Sharp came on for Washington for United who got a big ovation as he went off for an excellent performance.

    Fleck had another shot not far wide but United were now getting men behind the ball and trying to stop any balls coming through the middle. They funnelled Brentford wide but this meant Stevens and particularly Freeman were getting stretched. A few crosses came in and then from one clearance Judge hit a great effort which flashed just wide of the post.

    Brentford were now throwing men forward and United were worryingly deep as the game advanced to the final minute. Sharp clipped a home player and they won a free kick 30 yards from goal on the angle. Judge took it and his whipped effort was on target but lacked the power to beat Henderson who did not make the mistake of the Stoke Joe Allen goal and got across to push the ball away at his near post. There was to be four minutes of stoppage time. Brentford won a late corner that was cleared and then Dalsgaard had a shot but Henderson saved this one comfortably. United managed to waste a few minutes winning throw ins down the left and then as the ball came into the United box once more O’Connell stood firm.

    The final whistle went soon after and a crucial three points on the road were in the bag. Former Bees players O’Connell and Egan clapped all four sides of the ground before the Blades players celebrated in front of the 1,301 Blades fans with Wilder’s now traditional thump of the badge salute to accompany their cheers

  2. #2
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    United – Night and day. Chalk and cheese. Use whatever differences you will. The performance was so much better than from the weekend. We were committed, won tackles, chased, harried and individually and collectively just were so much more at it. We won battles, we looked hungry and did all the things United do when they are good. We moved it around and kept it well with some neat moves. We got men forward, used the overloads, passed it at pace at times and also with Washington; we were able to mix it up too. We seemed to have control of the game for long spells despite not always having the ball which is pleasing and something different. The midfield seemed to have control much of the game; we offered a goal threat and came onto the ball all game to ensure many off the loose stuff/50-50’s we got to. I felt our application and honesty was very good and a big reaction to the performance and Wilder’s comments.

    It was not perfect. Another sloppy start and goal to give away. We at times panicked with the ball a bit much and sat too deep and you worried we don’t know how to see games out again. I always worried we may let a late goal in and at times the players seem to lack belief they can get over the lines. It is annoying as we dominated for long spells tonight but then just switch off for moments. After the first goal it was mostly all us and even to start the 2nd half but then for a 10-minute spell we panicked, gave it away, stopped marking and doing the things we had done well.

    Enough off the negatives though. There were so many things we did better. The defence for the most part played well (Freeman apart - still having a bad run) and the three centre backs save for the mistake on the goal were excellent. Stevens played well. Fleck and Norwood were very good tonight and not only passed it better but also got their foot in and chased and covered ground. Lundstram did a job for the team but was quiet and did not get on it much. I felt McGoldrick had one of those nights both link play, touch and finishing. It was the worst he has played for us. Washington was very good and his running/pace gave us something different.

    United did not have as much of the ball but felt we did more with it when it mattered; in key areas. We created more clear chances and looked more dangerous. Henderson made one routine save from the free kick and a few flashed past the post. Clarke, Lundstram and McGoldrick (x2) both had really clearer chances for us. It was a game with better finishing we could have won more comfortably but we did show great character to come back from being behind and then after being pegged back going again.

    Really pleasing overall. We played well, scored three goals and actually saw a game out. It was not straight forward and at times you felt here we go again but we did what we had to and the right team won. The changes worked in an odd way in that Lundstram allowed Fleck to move forward and be more effective and Washington played well too. We also have Sharp and Duffy fresher and fitter for their inevitable recalls Saturday. We have a big game Saturday but Leeds will not sit back and thus it should be a cracking game. They are relentless in pressing so we have to be bang at it and cannot regress and go back to another poor performance. As long as we can apply the same application, effort and ball movement and zest to go forward when we can; then we should be ok both in this game and moving forward. We definitely got back to the high standards we have set against a very decent team regardless of their current league position.

    Brentford – They are underachieving for me for a side that play nice football, all the players are comfortable on the ball and they have the leading scorer in the league. They are now down to 17th and are just 4 points off the bottom 3. They are on woeful run and the managerial change that many of their fans felt would not affect them declaring it about the style and how they are set up rather than the coach and that the transition to the new manager would be relatively smooth due to him being there before; has not really worked. They are on a real slump and as pretty a football as they play; they need to start winning some games ugly. Like us, I am not sure they can do this. They will pass it around (68% possession tonight – not many teams will do to us, what we do to them) but often do it in areas that do not count. I felt other than that 10-minute spell second half and the pressure they applied at the end; they actually did not hurt us that much. They look a bit powder puff. They have some good players but some frustrating ones too. Maupay is a goalscorer and a talent but a cheat (said it). He is simply going to ground with often minimal or con contact. He tried to con the referee twice for penalties and was also lucky not be sent off for a wild lash out at Stevens. He is a petulant player that has loads of talent and probably starved of the ball – they take forever to get it into the box so probably gets frustrated but why does he have to go to ground all the time. Judge is a decent player who has lost so much time to injury but showed his ability.

    Heard Brentford fans over recent times when we signed Egan and O’Connell, criticising them both saying they have better and it was good money they made but to be honest both have been very consistent in their United careers and proving to be excellent signings. Their position in the league suggests these defenders they have better than these two that many of their fans proclaim are maybe not quite all that. I acknowledge that Mepham and Konsa are highly rated but need to defend better for the basic passes/crosses that come in. I know which defence I would rather have at the moment.

    I am sure the way they play and the amount of possession they have/expected goals etc will see them climb the table but like last year it will take a hell of a push for them to threaten the top 6 and have left themselves a lot of work to do. I worry that teams may take Sawyers, Maupay etc in the window and they will have to go to their European scouting/data model again to find more talent that they can clearly do!

    Opponent man of the match – Maupay scored a decent goal and Judge was involved a lot but the best player was Saywers. We did a good job first half on him after he assisted on the goal but gradually, he grew into the game and we had to swarm round him. He made the second goal too. Very good player and I expect Dean Smith to go for him in January to take him to Villa as the commentator alluded to.

    Weak link – The defence looked really poor. They did not mark or seem to understand when players moved off them and just stood motionless. The lad Mepham is being talked about going for a lot of money but he was poor tonight as was the other lad Konsa. Thought Canos was a bit disappointing and Norwood and Fleck both outplayed McEacharan in the middle.

    Henderson 7/10 – Made a bit of a mistake for the first goal. The shot lacked power and went in at the near post. I was surprised it went in. After all the great saves Saturday he lets that in! He did recover after this but did not have many saves to make until the late free kick and a few other routine pieces of play.

    Freeman 5.5/10 – Another poor performance. First half he was ok-ish and used it a bit better and defended a bit better but seemed to get worse as the game went on. He gave his man too much space, failed to stop the cross and did that annoying thing where he kept clearing the ball back into the centre. Seemed slow to spot dangers and often reacted too quick when a man was over. He needs a rest too as looks utterly knackered by the hour mark and thus cannot get forward. He did take a good throw in the build up the winner though to give him his due. Baldock will come in for a spell surely when healthy/fit?

    Stevens 7.5/10 – Thought first half he was excellent and got up and down and involved in so many good attacks. He used it well and showed some nice touches. He nearly made a few goals and often was the furthest man forward. I thought he stuck to his task when he had to defend more second half and at times, they did have a lot of space but not sure it was all his fault as they overloaded down this side and the goal came when Sawyers came inside two players. Makes some odd decisions at times. Made me laugh when he went forward with it and maybe remembered Johnson on Saturday as the game came towards the end and he just punted it to the keeper!

    Egan 7.5/10 – Not a great start as Maupay seemed to get beyond him to score but like Henderson recovered well and won so many headers and tackles. He was really good after this and I felt commanded the back line. He was a strong presence as they came forward and I felt made some good interceptions on the floor; normally teams would lump it into the box but Brentford tried to probe and pass their way through and he kept his composure.

    O’Connell 7.5/10 – Thought he had a really good game tonight. He was decisive in his play on and off the ball. Won headers and looked a class act. Read the game well and helped nullify the gaps. For all the worries we all had about conceding; the chances came from two long range Judge efforts. To keep them after the goal to these sorts of chances and a deflected own goal shows how well the defence played.

  3. #3
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    Basham 7.5/10 – Solid game. Came onto the ball when he could and used it sensibly. Won headers, clearances and tackles. Just another whole-hearted committed performance. He sometimes panics when he runs forward but love the fact, he will carry it on and commit men when he attacks. Defensively he got a few ***** toes in to little through balls and just kept his shape.

    Norwood 7.5/10 – As with Fleck; so much better. He had a really poor game Saturday but tonight he made the first with a superb corner; then scored an absolute belter that had me out of my seat (sofa seat!). He controlled much of the play with only criticism some of his passes were a bit too ambitious. Still I thought for long spells we controlled the game and he was a big part of that. Got his foot in too and did the scruffy bits. Not quiet as involved second half and had to do more defensive work than maybe attacking wise. Good he was given the captaincy as show how important he is to United. Needs to keep to these standards for us to be successful. When he is off; we normally are (Forest, Brum, Rotherham).

    Lundstram 6.5/10 – Odd one as he did not do much wrong but not sure he did much on the ball. He had that good chance and fair play to him getting in the box to get on the end of it – we don’t have many midfielders who do that but maybe should have scored when he got there. Outside of that not sure I noticed him much. He kept a shape and maybe helped nullify a few of there threats just by keeping his position. Not sure what he offers but I suppose we played well most of the game and he helped keep it when he did have it – not sure he gave it away that much but as I say not sure he had it much! Maybe he helped Fleck play further forward so his role was more valuable than I perceive.

    Fleck 7.5/10 – Much better and he did all the things we like to see. Got on the ball and passed it well. He drove when he could (still maybe not enough) and was able to link well with others. Got down the left and got into some really good areas to give us those overloads. He had a few efforts at goal and was seemed to play further forward with obviously Duffy not playing and us having Lundstram behind him. This may seem a strange comment but like the fact he put a few fouls in. Showed he was more committed and not letting players settle. Involved in a lot of our good attacking moves. Towards the end he tired and our whole midfield gave them a bit too much of the ball.

    Washington 8/10 – He was excellent. He chased and covered so much ground and stretched them all game with his runs, drawing defenders across and giving space for others. He gave us the option of mixing it up; with a ball over the top and when he had it, he used good intelligent skill to keep it and play others in. He made the winner and I felt did so many good things well. Really pleased with him and he has shown that he could maybe make a difference in the odd game (I panned him after one or two games and have not been impressed I will be the first to admit but he proved me wrong tonight but has to do this when he gets other games/sub appearances).

    McGoldrick 4/10 – Had one. Missed three chances. One very good won with the keeper to beat and then sliced one and then had one deflected wide. A few neat flicks and passes but for the most part he gave it away all game. Even when he came back to defend, he gifted them possession. He is a nonchalant player but tonight he annoyed several teammates by gifting them the ball. Nothing really came off with the ball and not sure he did enough to harry/chase. Not had any games like that so far so want to just put in the book and forget.

    Subs –

    Clarke – It was the right move to bring Clarke on who gave us a bit more strength and something for them to think about and of course scored the winner. This was after a glaring miss. He does give us a presence and wins a few headers although on the second goal they scored he was stood 10 yards behind the defender who won it unopposed and did not even try and get goal side. Still, the finish for the goal was superb. Really calm and composed. Big credit to him as it was a ***** moment and he could have gone under after that miss.

    Coutts – Neat and tidy. He is still feeling his way back and at times the pace seems a bit much for him but he will always use the ball well and combined in a few neat moves down the right and won a free kick after a nice move with Freeman where his short ball nearly put him back in hospital!

    Sharp – Came on for Washington and ran around trying to link with Clarke and see the game out. Gave a daft foul away when going back to defend.


    Wilder 8.5/10 – He moaned and criticised the players after Saturday. Tonight, was a big test to react from that awful showing on Saturday. Wilder will have had them motivated and ready to not have another let down. The changes were odd and I was worried. He got a big reaction in the performance and result and will be well pleased.
    Lundstram has not been involved at all. Washington barely played at all and then both are brought in and he leaves his most creative and goal scoring threats in Duffy and Sharp out. It did seem like he had lost the plot a bit! However, they both worked in different ways.
    Lundstram did ok and helped Fleck play further up and Washington was excellent. Clarke came on and scored as a sub and so all those (including me) saying his subs don’t work. They did tonight. He kept the same formation and shape even after they scored and kept faith. He also did not bring Stearman on and kept Sharp up so they had something to think about.

    The biggest things for me were the character and guts of course to respond from the weekend and respond to two big blows tonight but also, we saw a game out and mentally and for confidence that will be a big moment you hope.

    Referee – Not great. Inconsistent. Should have booked more than one for them for reasons I discussed earlier. Should have sent off Maupay for his wild lash out and his blatant cheating. The tackle on Washington was horrendous and regardless of it being not a goalscoring opportunity to equate to a red; it was horrible. The lad for Cardiff, Arter was it went off for something similar the other week. It was blatant high hack. They easily could have had 9 men. Did not give us very much at all I felt and many of the 50-50’s he erred on the side of being a homer. Still we won so I won’t speak about him too much.

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