Francis returned at right back with MacDonald in central midfield after Arter’s latest rush of blood.
The Bournemouth contingent sounded loud under the low roof but was no doubt fairly inaudible elsewhere, as is the normal way with these things. The Brentford crowd certainly seemed surprisingly subdued until the final minutes when they realised that they might actually get away with a win.
Brentford play in a very similar style to us, and in the first half they were doing it quite a bit better than we were, with the diminutive but technically gifted Spurs loanee Pritchard running midfield and Jota causing problems in the left-footed right winger Ritchie role. They lack a Wilson quality striker to finish off their good approach play, which didn’t mater too much today as we were more than happy to help them out with some dodgy defending.
Brentford took an early lead when Kermorgant was caught in possession on the edge of the box attempting to play his way out of trouble and Pritchard found Douglas, who picked his spot calmly past the advancing Boruc.
If it’s possible to have too much possession Bournemouth achieved it at times with a tendency to play one or two (or eight or nine or ten) passes too many rather than find out whether Button’s goalkeeping had improved since his calamitous spell on loan with us (unfortunately it has). Brentford were more direct and moved the ball quicker and consequently looked the more likely to score. Ritchie was booked for a clumsy challenge and was lucky to escape a second yellow for an arguably worse one shortly after. Kermorgant also picked up a yellow for a dive which was hard to dispute from so far away. Both sets of supporters were unhappy with the performance of referee Mike Dean, who to be fair had done well in his previous games with us, but was bad enough to be accused of being Andy D’Urso in disguise today.
Somewhat unexpectedly Bournemouth equalised after thirty minutes. Daniels’ hopeful ball forward caused confusion on the edge of Brentford’s box. Pugh picked Diagouraga’s botched clearance and bundled the ball past Button and against the post, with the rebound sitting up helpfully for him to tap in the equaliser. It was becoming something of a basketball game with both sides taking turns to attack, but Brentford were still looking the more likely to find the net. Boruc’s hesitancy in reacting to a through ball allowed Gray to round, him but Cook got back to save the Pole’s blushes with a goal- line clearance as Gray tried to turn the ball in from a narrow angle.
1-1 at half time would have been a success after a below par performance, but it was not to be. Wilson made an unnecessary challenge 30 yards out which adjudged a foul by the erratic Mr Dean. Pritchard’s free kick had some dip and swerve, but it was almost straight at Boruc, who unaccountably opted to attempt to punch it away, succeeding only in diverting the ball inside the post, a body blow just before the half-time whistle.
For once manager and fans were at one with the half-time substitution, Fraser replacing the out of sorts Ritchie before the latter could do an Arter and leave us with a bigger mountain to climb. The injection of pace made an immediate impact as Fraser and Francis terrorised the fragile-looking left side of Brentford’s defence and Bournemouth gained the upper hand and applied pressure for most of the second half. At least balls were getting into the box now, but Button and his central defenders dealt well with the majority of them. Pitman replaced Kermorgant, which had as much impact as it had against Huddersfield, i.e. none.
Button fluffed a clearance to Wilson who tried to lob the keeper but mishit the attempt woefully wide. Fraser came closest with a double effort, the first pushed onto the post by Button and the follow-up smashed into the side netting. The winger picked up our second yellow for diving when he was tripped in full flight just inside the box. Fraser can be gravitationally challenged at times, but this time it did look as though he had actually been fouled. To be fair Brentford fan’s after the game also reckoned that Dean missed a clear penalty for them, which wouldn’t be surprising as Dean’s decisions were getting increasingly random, bookable offences waved on, nothing challenges penalised.
As Bournemouth threw more resources forward with time running out Brentford began to get a lot of joy from counter attacks. Jota hit the bar and was twice denied by last-gasp saves from Boruc who partially atoned for his earlier mistake (although without the error we wouldn’t have been leaving the gaps for Brentford to exploit). In stoppage time our luck finally ran out as Pritchard broke down the right and picked out Long for a simple finish at the far post.
An entertaining match between two sides trying to play the game the right way despite the best efforts of the referee. Bournemouth arguably did well enough in the second half to deserve a draw, but if you concede soft goals against good sides you can’t really expect to pick up too many points.
Ryan Fraser transformed the game with his willingness to attack opponents at pace, can he learn to find a final ball to match his other talents?
AFCB: Boruc, Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels, Ritchie, MacDonald, Surman, Pugh, Kermorgant, Wilson
Subs: Camp, Ward, Gosling, Stanislas, Fraser (for Richie, HT), Pitman (for Kermorgant, 63 mins), Smith (for Daniels, 76 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton