Brentford 3 Forest 4

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August 13, 2017 by notjustpumpkinbread

I don’t think many people would have predicted a 7 goal thriller at Griffin Park. And if you did, I hope you had a little flutter and are a few quid better off.

By Jove, do we need David Vaughan!

I was a little surprised to see him lining up alongside Andreas Bouchalakis, but only insofar as “Do we really need 2 defensive midfielders?”

I did wonder if it was a containment thing, looking to stifle any attacks through the middle and catch them on the break. I’m no coach, so what do I know?!?

As it turns out, yes, it seems you can have both of them on the pitch, without any detriment to the your game.

OK, we started slowly, sticking to our manager’s principles of playing out from the back; keeping it on the ground; kind-of playing through the opposition. It’s a process that will take time to be ingrained on some of our players. We are, after all, asking some of them to move outside of their comfort zone and be more confident in their footballing abilities.

Mancienne and Mills spring to mind in that respect. But this is not a criticism. It’s clear for all to see that Mancienne has never been too comfortable holding onto the ball and making those kinds of decisions and playing that kind of game. And Mills is a centre half who wants to “get the fucking ball out!” What they both are though are quality defenders. I suppose we’re a bit spoilt right now; we’ve got Joe Worrall, who is not only a great defender, but is also very comfortable on the ball. Reminds me very much of Michael Dawson. How great would it be to see them playing alongside each other in the Garibaldi?

Tendayi Darikwa looks like a quality addition to the squad and is going to make Eric work that little bit harder to make a start, while Benny was this time employed as the left wing-back. Not his best position, if I’m going to be honest – especially when you’ve got to contend with Jota all afternoon. But he kept him fairly quiet down our left, so job done.

So, Jordan Smith in goal. Worral, Mills and Mancienne as a back 3. Darikwa and Benny as wing-backs. Vaughan patrolling the space in front of our defensive line, with Bouchalakis in attendance and an attacking trio of Clough – in that number 10 role – McKay and Murphy.

Murphy wasn’t as isolated as the Millwall game; getting his head to some stuff; receiving the ball to feet and holding off players; he does what it says on the tin. And great to see him get off the mark with our second goal. A good striker’s tap-in after the ball hit the right hand post from a well worked piece of play and shot from Darikwa.

The second goal in the space of 2 minutes. Brentford quite deservedly went ahead on 38 minutes, but saw that cancelled out a mere 3 minutes later with a great volley from Bouckalakis. It just seemed inevitable, as the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area. We’d won a free kick near the corner flag, there was a bit of head tennis in the box and The Mighty Bouch was waiting. Bang! It was never in doubt. Then the tap-in and the home faithful were speechless with the half time whistle still ringing in their ears.

The Mighty Bouch small

We started the second half like a train and it took 2 minutes for our central midfield Greek God to give us a 2 goal cushion. Great work on the left from McKay – he’d been a bit quiet compared to the Millwall game – saw him dance into the box, look up, see Bouchalakis wanting the ball near the ‘D’ and obliged. There was only going to be one place it ended up and once again he hit it so sweetly; it sailed away from the despairing dive of the Brentford keeper into the back of the net.


And right in front of the Forest Faithful.

While a couple of changes for Brentford injected some much-needed impetus to their game, we should have been long gone by then. At one point McKay made a great break but saw his shot well saved. Murphy had a chance too. But pegging us back to 2-3 and 3-4 caused a sense of anxiety to permeate through the travelling support. Concentration is key and that 2 goal cushion just induced a sense of caution to our game which invited the opposition on.

My mum always said honesty was the best policy, so let’s be clear. Brentford were unlucky not to get a point. They hit the woodwork at least twice (might be 3, can’t really remember) and for the first 40 minutes of the game, were the better side. But you’ve got to take your chances, which we did. And that’s a very nice thing to say as a Forest fan.

That 2 goal cushion at 1-3 should have been it, but it was the reaction to conceding a goal that delighted me. Brentford got their second on 79 minutes (and it felt like it was coming) but once again, it only took 4 minutes for us to win back that 2 goal cushion. This time a deflected shot from Everton loanee Kieran Dowell – on as a half-time replacement for the disappointing Clough – saw him open his Garibaldi account. Once again, good work from the left, this time from Traoré – on for Bouchalakis, with Benny moving into the middle – had the defender on toast before loosing a shot goal-wards. The resulting block from a Brentford player saw the ball ping out to Dowell who had no hesitation in letting fly. The deflection took it away from the keeper and scenes ensued.

Then the curse of the 2 goal cushion struck again in injury time. When you allow a team like Brentford time on the ball and the space to play, there’s only going to be one outcome. And so it came to pass, in the second added minute of 5. Nails were hesitantly bitten and the edge of the seats in the upper tier were quickly felt as we leant forward, imagining that extra 6 inches closer to the pitch would allay our fears of an equaliser.


A very good win, against a team who will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

As for us, well, I don’t think I can emphasise enough how important David Vaughan is. I know I haven’t really mentioned him in this write-up, but that’s the point. It’s the stuff he does that doesn’t attract attention which really matters. Organising the defensive line at times; mopping stuff up; breaking up play; he is the cohesive element of the team.

Do we have a natural replacement for him?

I’m hoping it’s The Mighty Bouch. He played a similar role against Shrewsbury in the cup and was quite effective. Playing/ training with Vaughan can only be a good thing for him. In the long-term, I’d like to think there’s an Academy player or 2, but I’m not close enough to that setup to know for sure. If I were to guess, I’d say it was Anel Ahmedhodžić but don’t quote me on it.

It’s Barnsley away on Tuesday, then Middlesbrough at home with the return of Britt. Four points from those 2 games and I’ll be a very happy boy.

But in fairness, at this stage it doesn’t really matter. The travelling throng could be heard singing “We’ve got our Forest back…” during the second half.

That’s what really matters right now.



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