A bitterly disappointing defeat to restart the campaign… What was an even contest for 88 minutes, ended in a second straight defeat against them in the league thanks to two late goals.
The team news for both teams showed key players missing, Aboubakar Kamara for us and Mbuemo for Brentford. We started with Kebano on the left side of the three which raised a few eyebrows considering Cavaleiro was on the bench. The defeat leaves us just one point ahead of them with eight games left to play, and any thought of automatic promotion has diminished in my opinion.
The first half had very few chances but the best chance fell to Bobby Decordova-Reid who found himself just inside the 18-yard box before clattering the crossbar with a left-footed shot. It was a typical Fulham move which opened up the Brentford defence and it is moments like that which we could look back on at the end of the season and wonder what if?
It was a first 45 minutes with very few chances and to be fair to Brentford, they set up well and look to hit us on the break. The key battle up top involved Mitrović and Brentford captain, Pontus Jansson with both players refusing to give an inch. The return of Harrison Reed proved a huge positive for us, he looked calm and was the key figure in keeping Brentford at bay whilst also linking up well with Cairney in the middle of the park.
The second half saw us again carve out the better chances with Mitrović having a couple of headers saved by the Brentford goalkeeper. The ball was in the net in the 54th minute but was rightly ruled out for offside after Knockaert played in Mitrović. As the game went on, it was clear both sides were tiring and it was Brentford who made their substitutions count. We lacked the pace and power of Kamara who would have stretched the Brentford defence as he gives us a different dimension up top. He is not afraid to take players on and will as we approached lockdown, started to link up nicely with Mitrović, a far cry from the penalty gate incident in 2018 and the change in attitude/ performances has won over a few fans. Unfortunately for us, Brentford did have that pace on the bench in Emiliano Marcondes who set up Benrahma for the opener in the 88th minute before securing all three points in added time after a quick breakaway from our corner. Game over and three points secured by the Bees. A result which in my opinion flattered them. It was a game where we had the better chances but just lacked that killer instinct.
We have eight league games left to play with the majority of them coming against teams around us. Therefore, we must improve if we want to be playing Premier League football again next season. There is no doubt in my mind that we have the talent, we just have to find a way in becoming consistent and go on a strong run. The team that gets promotion through the playoffs is usually the one who goes into them in the best form, even if the playoffs are described as a lottery. If we can win 50% of our remaining fixtures, I would fancy our chances against anyone.
Overall, it was good to see football back on our screens, even if no fans can attend. There have been so many changes made to make sure live sport can continue, it will take a while for everyone to come to terms with it. The atmosphere being played through the TV is still up for debate as to whether supporters like it but I am a huge fan. It certainly takes away the feeling of watching a friendly match and in most of the games that have been played so far, the competitiveness is there for all to see.