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2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings – Matchweek 29

2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings – Matchweek 29

A 2-1 defeat on the road for Brentford at Burnley topped off an afternoon where just about anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. For once, referee Darren Bond calling most of the big shouts correctly (not a typo) although still missed Zanka being rugby tackled to the floor in the box when nowhere hear the ball.

In truth, it probably would have made no difference in the grand scheme. Brentford architects of their own demise the moment Burnley’s Vitinho got ahead of Sergio Reguilón and our latest ‘proper’ left back chose to bundle him over. No attempt made to even try and play the ball – just a reckless shove that, only eight minutes in, resulted in the inevitable red card and penalty kick.

Correct decision made by the referee who, on this occasion, was not the Bond villain. Mark Flekken close but no cigar as Jacob Bruun Larsen made the most of this unexpected opportunity from the spot. 1-0 down and 82 minutes to go. Reguilon, Reguiloff.

Mads Roerslev shifted out to left back from the other flank. The impressive Kris Ajer going to the right. Brentford offering little in a stop-start game where the action was condensed in a tight, niggly first half. Chances few and far between. The best of them for The Bees coming via Dara O’Shea’s long distance backpass under pressure from Jensen (perhaps the Dane’s only meaningful first-half contribution) with Arijanet Muric in nets looking elsewhere. The ‘keeper eventually able to hook it off the line with his foot after becoming alert to the danger. Ivan Toney unable to work the rebound and another strong save followed.

Yet if that was a good, albeit fortunate, opportunity it was nothing compared to what transpired down the other end just before half-time. David Fofana with the miss of the decade. The travelling faithful behind, scarcely able to believe how it hadn’t gone in after Lorenz Assignon mugged off Jensen in the build-up and squared to the Burnley striker. Just yards out, unmarked in front of an open goal, he somehow conspired to spoon it wide rather than tap it in to the middle of the net.

It should have been 2-0. No question. They don’t come any clearer than that.

The almightiest of let offs for The Bees then saw Wissa given the chance to equalise himself after being set free by Ivan Toney. Instead, a heavy touch saw the defence given time to catch up rather than our man bursting clear and Muric pulled off another smart stop.

It wasn’t over. The hosts had yet another golden opportunity. This time, it was Flekken whose attention wandered. Not realising Fofana was behind him as he rolled the ball forward. Panto style shouts from the visiting fans as The Burnley striker pounced, whipped the ball away but slipped at the crucial moment when 2-0 seemed inevitable. The recovery from our number one the polar opposite from the initial error and disaster was avoided.

One goal and one man down at half-time. Burnley should have been out of sight. Brentford lucky to be in with a sniff. Changes seemed surely immediate. Let’s try to take control after the various let offs. The pace on the bench in KLP and Bryan Mbeumo, finally fit, crying out to be released. Neal Maupay, so far reduced to winding up the opposition coaching staff, desperate for a chance to get involved. For whatever reason, the coaching staff electing to stick rather than twist.

It was only another injured left-back that brought about the subs. Mads Roerslev having no choice but to be replaced with a suspected concussion on the hour. Frank Onyeka, who had spent so much time doing little out on the right wing he was mistaken for a Conservative MP, also going with him.

KLP returning to our position of doom yet making almost immediate in roads. Just minutes after coming on, he set off on a chase similar to that of Wissa’s earlier opportunity. Bearing down on the box, sadly he was thwarted by a robust challenge from the recovering Vitinho.

Yet with The Bees regrouping, disaster came from nowhere. Ping-ping-ping-ping-ping-goal Burnley.

A five pass move from their own box freed Fofana who finally found the net. No Brentford player close to intercepting at any point. Flekken no chance. Sold up the river once again by a makeshift backline and a midfield crying out for the absent Norgaard.

2-0 and game over. Despite another 30 minutes remaining, the niggly nature of the game prevented much free-flowing football. The hosts desperate for the win. The arrival of Bryan, Neal and Shandon Baptiste for the final ten minutes (plus stoppage time) offering hope.

Just two minutes later, a goal back. KLP released by Bryan and the shot deflected for a corner from which Ivan almost scored. Instead, Muric pulled out a fine save although then bundled our man to the ground. With the crowd just yards away calling foul play and VAR, a moment of hope. Of salvation.

As that passage of play unfurled it got better than a potential review. The ball made its way around the edge of the Burnley box. Mbeumo fed Baptiste whose pitching wedge into the area found Ajer in space. Boom!!!! No pressure from the home side and no mistake. Muric left flat footed (and perhaps fortunate to avoid a VAR review that would have seen him red carded) as the net rippled. 2-1.

The minutes raced by. Time added on came and almost went.

Again, Brentford tried. Again, Burnley frustrated. Again, Baptiste played another high, hanging ball in to the box. This time to Ivan Toney. Our predator par excellence. Yeeessss!!! The relief palpable as, getting to the ball moments before Muric, he guided it in to the net with his head for 2-2 with just seconds remaining. Except….

Except Mr Bond disallowed it. No goal. The subsequent VAR check showing Ivan had made zero contact with the ball, only with the goalkeeper. Rather than confirming an equaliser the decision was foul play. Burnley left to run out 2-1 victors. Brentford with no complaints and no excuses. A game of self-inflicted wounds and lacking the customary sharpness when the few opportunities presented themselves.

Now, we prepare for the visit of Manchester United in a fortnight needing yet another left back with Reguilón suspended. Social media in meltdown although everyone’s an expert when the chips are down. Thomas Frank with way too much credit in the bank to warrant any of the criticism coming in from certain keyboard warriors or booing supporters.

Instead, let down by his threadbare squad having to regroup after the ridiculous decision making of a defender who should have known better. Plus, perhaps, our self-inflicted choice to wear the baby blue ‘jinx kit’ (no wins in two seasons). Burnley were handed a gilt-edged opening just eight minutes in and took it with both hands.

We’ve all seen it. We move on. Two weeks to catch our breath and prep for the game with Manchester United which, hopefully, both Bryan and Ethan Pinnock will be able to start.

Until then, our regular look at the star player and top five. As always, we give five points for first, four for second place, three for third etc with the totals added up game by game to find an overall winner after game 38.

2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings from Matchweek 29 (vs Burnley)

1st (Star player: 5 points) – Kris Ajer
Playing first at centre back then shifted out, he had a great game. Compared to the others.

It’s hard to find positives from such dire circumstance in a game against a side so out of form they went in to this game ten points adrift of safety. Had it not been for Kris the margin of defeat could well have been even greater. The first half saw a whole series of crucial tackles, interceptions and blocks to keep the hosts at bay when further pain seemed inevitable.

The second was more of the same, with Kris also pushing up higher in pursuit of some redemption for The Bees. His goal to halve a deficit that should have been greater came with a perfectly placed header. So precise it came in off the inside of the post to leave Muric no chance.

Deserved more.

2nd (4 points) – Bryan Mbeumo
One can only presume that a lack of match fitness prevented his earlier arrival into the fray. We’d all have loved to see Bryan on for longer and many had been calling for him but at 2-0 down, Thomas wasn’t going to bring him into the fray until he was ready, regardless of what supporters wanted. Just be glad Bryan is back.

The pace and desire he showed gave hope for the game and hope for the future. He has had a wonderful season until picking up that injury. On this brief showing, he’s going to be back to his best in no time.

3rd (3 points) – Keane Lewis-Potter
Just as against Arsenal, KLP was forced to play left-back. Just as against Arsenal, he had a cracking game in this most unfamiliar of positions.

It was ironic that Burnley’s second goal came from a move that almost saw him equalise. Yet it was in no way his fault that they were then able to slice through what remained of the Brentford midfield and defence to zip down the other end and double the lead.

It was KLP who again came close in the move that ultimately resulted in Ajer’s goal. Only a deflection denying him from the corner of the six-yard box.

11 out of 10 for effort. Moreso given he had to bail out a more senior colleague.

4th (2 points) – Mads Roerslev
Before KLP filled in at left back, Mads was pulled over to that side following the red card. Kris Ajer notwithstanding, I thought he looked the only other vaguely comfortable defender.

The final stats count shows him as only out-tackled by Mathias Jensen (fair play) but given his position, his seemed infinitely more crucial. It’s a shame injury robbed him of further chance to shine but all being well a fortnight’s break will see him back for our next game.

Thomas certainly needs players with this level of appetite for the fight.

5th (1 point) – Shandon Baptiste
That three of the substitutes made the top five says everything about a frustrating afternoon where stand out performances were at a premium. I also thought Yehor Yarmolyuk fared well after coming on but Shandon wins the final point by virtue of both his assist and contribution to the ‘goal’ for ‘2-2’.

2023-24 Brentford Player Ratings – Top 5 Players Overall (after Matchweek 29)

All of which means that with 9 games remaining, Bryan is back in play and moves that bit closer to leader Christian Norgaard. Elsewhere, KLP breaks in to the overall top five after yet another game where his determination shone through

1st – Christian Norgaard (43 points)
2nd – Ethan Pinnock (37 points)
3rd – Bryan Mbeumo (35 points)
4th – Mathias Jensen (28 points)
5th – Keane Lewis-Potter (26 points)

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