Brentford 1 Foxes 2
Match report by Steve Moulds
“Sign him up, sign him up” came the cry from the City supporters at the end of the match and with good reason. Be in no doubt, Tielemans was the best player in a blue shirt and the incisive difference between the two sides.
On the way to the new Brentford Community Stadium (farewell to Griffin Park) in spite of seeing recent signs of the confidence and resilience shown in City’s title winning season, Brentford’s performance against Chelsea last week gave way to some trepidation – would City’s leaky defence hold out or had Toney et al rediscovered their shooting boots, seemingly left back in the Championship?
Both teams appeared to set-up in 3-5-2 formations (although City officially called it 3-4-1-2 with Maddison in the hole behind the front two), with Ricardo and Castagne starting on patrol on the right and left flanks, it was soon evident they were in for a busy afternoon. The Bees started where they left off with Chelsea, spreading the ball wide to the channels and getting crosses into the box. Inside three minutes, Schmeichel made an excellent save, diving low down to his left to keep out Nørgaard’s acrobatic effort.
This spurred Brentford on. City were camped around the 18-yard box, and for the first 10 minutes, unable to venture out of their own half, conceding what seemed to be around 80% of possession. Jonny Evans was proving to be the mainstay in keeping out a barrage of set pieces and crosses. Eventually, Brentford got the ball into the net, only for the Assistant’s flag to be instantly raised and Toney’s effort was chalked off (replays later that evening indicated this was closer than it appeared on the stadium screens!)
Minutes later, a swift moved saw Toney play in Mbueno for the best of the chances, only for him to shoot well wide – this would become the story of the Bees game for the second match in a row.
On around 14 minutes, City finally broke the shackles with some good possession sending Ricardo down the right wing, drawing what seemed an innocuous foul. The subsequent free kick led to the highlight of the match. A good defensive header cleared the 18-yard box, dropping into space in front of Tielemans who glided elegantly onto the ball and with perfect timing, blasted it past Raya’s outstretched left hand and into the top corner. Wow! What a goal and for the second week in row Youri was in the goal of the month competition with shot that would have graced the pages of Roy of the Rovers.
Nil-1 and certainly against the run of play but quality will out. Undeterred, Brentford returned to Plan A, forcing City back although by the 25 minute mark, possession had roughly been amended to 60-40 in the home side’s favour. Tielemans was everywhere, making tackles, giving the ball to Maddison who drew fouls (and had City’s only other shot on goal in the first half) but still the Bees pressed on. Söyuncü conceded free kicks. Toney drew another fine save from Kasper. As the half time whistle blew, it was one of the most one-sided games you could witness but with no results for their efforts Brentford had it all to do.
At the restart, Vardy was replaced by the hero of Moscow, Patson Daka. It was later announced JV had tweaked his knee in the warm-up that went someway to explaining his lack of involvement in the first-half but perhaps not why he was on the field in the first place?
The game now appeared more open. Tielemans, along with Soumaré had more control in mid-field and Maddison was beginning to have more influence – much to the amusement of the Brentford fans in the West Stand, whose chants only sought to spur him on.
Brentford continued to forge chances from crosses, largely down the right. One such attack led to a mistake by Tielemans and a subsequent slow-paced cross found an unmarked Toney who could only glance the ball straight into the arms of Schmeichel. Frank Onyeka was having a good game for the Bees in mid-field, retaining possession and distributing the ball out to the wings. But it wasn’t all going the way of the reds this half, with Soumaré forcing a good save out of Raya.
Around the 60 minute mark, Evans conceded a foul in mid-field, getting a bit too tight for the referees liking. The subsequent free kick was, sensibly, put behind by Amartey for a corner. However, Jensen’s perfect delivery proved undefendable and Jørgensen glanced in a header past a rooted Schmeichel. One-all, probably deserved, but disappointing to concede yet another set piece goal and still no clean sheet for Kasper!
This gave Brentford the cue to push on, rallied by their fans. [Which incidentally led to my most amusing moment of the game. I was sitting in the East Stand with the Brentford fans, right behind the goal where Youri scored – superb view and I have never bitten my tongue so hard! Anyway, one Bees fan kept walking down the gangway and shouting “Peter, Peter Schmeichel why are you such a cheat” to which his own fans responded “at least get his name right you t**t”].
Around the 70-minute mark, Jensen sent in another cross, only for Jansson to head the ball straight to Kasper (not Peter!). His quick thinking then led to City’s best moment of the second half. A long kick found Iheanacho who held off the defender and slipped the ball inside to Tielemans, he then split the remaining back line with a perfectly weighted pass for Daka to run through on goal and unselfishly square the ball for Maddison to pass it into the open net. Two-one and cue West Stand chants of “You’ll never play for England” – who cares, James certainly didn’t.
A second piece of high-quality football in the final third and proof for Brentford that this is the area of the game in which they will need to improve.
Although Brentford did not give up, time and the game was now running away from them. Söyuncü was yellow carded and eventually substituted for Vestergaard. A clash between Raya and Perez, slowed the game even more. Aside from conceding the goal, Söyuncü’s performance, along with the Vardy injury, were probably the most disappointing outcomes of the match. But three well-earned points, that no doubt the media will see as being a “smash and grab”.
After the match, I went back to my mate’s local bar. The barman, a confessed Chelsea fan, commented on Tieleman’s performance saying: “We are after him”. It doesn’t take a footballing genius to know that City need to keep him.
City: Schmeichel, Amartey, Evans, Söyuncü (s. 68’ Vestergaard), Pereira, Tielemans, Soumaré, Castagne, Maddison (s. 78’ Perez), Iheanacho, Vardy (s. 46’ Daka)
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation