Brentford 2 Swindon 1: Outplayed Bees Leapfrog Town

If last night’s football game had lasted for only 70 minutes, Swindon would have returned to Wiltshire with 3 well deserved points; but instead they were made to rue the missed chances in the first half as Brentford came from behind to claim all 3 points to leapfrog Swindon in the table writes STFC007.

Since their one and only table topping position – after the away win to Tranmere – Swindon have only recorded one win in four. After dropping 2 points on Saturday, following a last minute equaliser and with the next two games away to promotion rivals, it was important to pick up points at Griffon Park and not to lose more ground on the automatic places.

The team saw one change from Saturday’s starting line-up as Adam Rooney replaced James Collins in a 4-5-1 formation. Swindon started well, passing the ball confidently and allowing little space for Brentford to get into their stride. Brentford’s preferred method of build-up play, short from the back, was being actively closed down, forcing the ‘keeper to kick long most of the time.

Swindon were in control and created the better opportunities. Both Jay McEveley and Nathan Thompson did their defending work well and contributed well with overlapping runs. Aden Flint was too strong for Donaldson in the aerial challenges, Alan McCormack’s cross field runs created danger each time and both Simon Ferry and Gary Roberts worked tirelessly to effectively contribute to both attack as well as defense.

There were two chances for Brentford in the first half, the first one fell to Donaldson after his outstretched leg got to the ball before Ward could get his head to it. Foderingham’s charge from his line to reduce the available shooting angle was enough for Donaldson to shot wide. The second chance fell to former Swindon captain Jonathan Douglas whose toe-poke, with his black Pantofola d’Oro Lazzarini’s, in a melee of players went wide of the post.

Swindon went ahead on 32 minutes when Brentford’s build-up play from the back was closed down and Roberts recaptured the ball, turning away from his man and finding Ferry, who continued his run wrong-footing Douglas and lashing the ball in the bottom left corner leaving Simon Moore in the Brentford goal no chance.

It was thoroughly deserved and Swindon could and should have been out of sight before the break. Andy Williams ran onto a long ball and out jumped the defense allowing him to find Roberts who was free on goal, but instead of placing the ball in the corner, smashed it wildly wide. Williams had two other good chances.

His first chance was reminiscent of his Tranmere goal with the keeper out of position, but instead of pummeling it towards goal, he ran with the ball and was closed down. His second chance was more difficult. He arrived at Roberts’ pass before the keeper who he rounded, and with a very narrow angle managed to shoot on goal only for it to be cleared off the line.

The start of the second half saw more of the same, with Swindon in control of the game but unable to score the important second goal. Well, there was a second goal from a McCormack header, but it was deemed off-side. Brentford were getting more frustrated as the half went on, trying to influence the referee by surrounding him after a decision, followed by an outburst on the sideline by Rossler. Referee Attwell had a chat with Rossler, a long chat, perhaps a bit too long.

The tide was beginning to turn helped by some inconsistent decisions by the referee allowing the Brentford team a handful of free kicks in dangerous positions in Swindon’s half but other than hitting the bar, Swindon held on spurred on by the 1,553 travelling fans, making up more than a quarter of the total crowd.

Some gaps started to appear at the back allowing the Brentford team to run the channels and put pressure on Foderingham’s goal. Some fresh legs were needed in mid-field to continue closing down the Bees possession in midfield but also to allow for the movement and passing in midfield to continue.

Darren Ward has been very steady at the back in recent months but there is one part of his game that is unnerving. Where most defenders take a run up in the direction of the ball before jumping and heading the ball, Ward seems to prefer to take up a stationary stance before jumping, which sometimes can allow an opposition player to get in between which happened a few too many times.

Brentford’s equaliser came from the spot in the 72nd minute. A long ball caught out a flat Swindon defense and McEveley in a last ditch attempt failed to get a clean connection with his head to get the ball back to Foderingham allowing Donaldson to muscle in on goal. Wes’ attempt to get the ball was deemed an incorrect challenge and resulted in a penalty. I was immediately behind it but at the wrong end of the pitch so my initial reaction of the attacker running into the keeper rather than the other way around is quite likely the wrong assertion. Foderingham received a yellow and was unable to stop the penalty kick which was drilled into the middle of the goal.

Brentford, spurred on by the crowd, scored the winner just 4 minutes later. Another long ball was not dealt with resolutely; Roberts allowed a Brentford player too much room to turn and then to put in a cross which wasn’t dealt with by Flint. Ward did not track Donaldson who received the header down unmarked and beat Foderingham at the near post.

Swindon made the substitution which should perhaps have happened 10 minutes prior with Luke Rooney replacing the tired Roberts. Swindon had 15 minutes to salvage something from the game they had controlled for over 70 minutes. Collins came on for Miller and De Vita replaced Williams. Despite a lack of height up front, Swindon continued to play it long too many times. For the last few minutes, Flint made an appearance up top, but despite a couple of half chances, the ball did not fall fortuitously enough for a clear goal scoring opportunity.

At the final whistle Swindon were the better team for most of the game but left empty handed, effectively dropping 5 points in the last 2 games. Let’s be clear. This result wasn’t the old board’s fault, nor the new board’s fault, or the new manager’s or the referee. It was the result of not taking the goal scoring opportunities that were created in the first half – and there were plenty – and through individual errors in the build-up to both goals. On another day we would have left with 3 points as we outplayed Brentford for large parts of the game.

There’s no game on Saturday, but who knows, the embargo may have been lifted and we could even have some reinforcements by the time we play our next game. This being the first of the four away games in the run-in against fellow promotion hopefuls, let’s hope we leave with all points when we visit Yeovil next Tuesday.

There’s still all to play for!

Next stop: Yeovil.

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