Jump to content


SINCE 1996
Proudly partnered with TheTerraceStore.com

Old Blackburnian's View - Pt 31 - Bees Strikes Sting Rovers 

Recommended Posts

This week's slightly extended "Accrington Observer" column...

Bees Strikes Sting Rovers 

It was quite the weekend for armchair referees. In the VAR-equipped Premier League, numerous TV replays of events at Stamford Bridge, reviewed by the experts at Stockley Park, revealed absolutely no problem with an horrendous challenge by Lo Celso on Azpilicueta. Then they apologised and admitted they'd got it wrong. Then they said no further retrospective sanction against Lo Celso was possible because it had been seen by the referee real-time and reviewed by Stockley Park. Glorious. 

Meanwhile at Griffin Park, there were two distinct schools of thought regarding the crucial award of a no-VAR assisted penalty to Brentford; it was either a poor decision, or a very poor decision, depending upon your perspective. From the comfort of a sofa with the ability to rewind & replay with impunity, it soon became apparent that Brentford’s Mads Roerslev had “gone to ground” as they say; following a deadly combination of reckless heavy breathing from Bradley Johnson and a Paddington Bear-style hard stare from Amari’i Bell. This manoeuvre owed more to Tom Daley, with a theatrical flourish worthy of a BAFTA or Olivier Award winning actor. It fooled the referee and the scoreline was ultimately tied.

The bitterest pill, was ours to take, if we took it for a hundred years, we couldn't feel more ill...

Notwithstanding the fact that Rovers had been on the back foot for large parts of the game, to have the mental and intestinal fortitude to hang on, in a game where the opposition is dominating proceedings was laudable. A victory here could have been a real watershed moment, a draw would have to suffice.

This fixture had a lot riding on it for both sides. For Rovers it was all about spending at least part of Saturday afternoon in those elusive play-off places, the Holy Grail that seems to be perpetually just out of reach. For Brentford, their goal is promotion and with it, the prospect of spending the first season in their spanking new stadium as a Premier League team.

Unsurprisingly, Brentford started the game with high intensity, moving the ball quickly, accurately and dangerously. Rovers, much like an opening batsman facing hostile, short of a length, fast bowling, spent large parts of the game on the back foot, nervously watching the ball move. The opening ten minutes saw Rovers’ right-hand side being given a thorough chasing, the sort of robust, forensic examination normally only carried out by a qualified medical practitioner with the aid of rubber gloves and a comforting bedside manner.

Rico Henry was a constant thorn in the side, combining at various points with Benrahma, Mbuemo and Watkins – Brentford’s BMW – to keep Ryan Nyambe, Dominic Samuel and John Buckley fully occupied. It seemed only a matter of time before the defence would be breached and so it proved; astonishingly though, it was Brentford's defence.

Walton was quick to spot Armstrong pulling away from his marker and with a wind-assisted kick, launched the ball deep into Brentford territory. Pinnock misjudged the flight in the swirl, Armstrong controlled delightfully and lobbed the advancing David Raya with a deft touch worthy of Rory McIlroy flighting one out of a green-side bunker straight into the hole. One shot on target, one goal, one Angel of the North celebration, game most definitely on.

The remainder of the first-half was conducted in a similar vein, Brentford largely controlling possession, moving the ball with precision from side to side, probing the Rovers back-line, creating several shooting opportunities. When a shot found its way towards goal, thankfully the ball seemed magnetically drawn towards the once-again impressive Walton. The half-time whistle brought with it some blessed relief but also growing optimism that the afternoon could yet prove to be fruitful for the visitors.

The second half commenced with Rovers trying their best to impose themselves on proceedings. A swift break saw a long ball reach Samuel who evaded a challenge, nudged the ball through to Armstrong but his shot was blocked by Raya. The ball looped up around the penalty spot and the onrushing John Buckley was comprehensively cleaned out by Raya, who seemed unsure whether to try and punch or catch the bouncing ball.

The Sky commentators considered it soft, keen to imply that as Raya had parried the ball, he was exempt from any sanction from the referee. However, Law 12 seems explicit on the topic; "holding or impeding an opponent with contact" is an offence punishable with a direct free-kick. Armstrong placed the ball on the spot, then sent Raya the wrong way, two-nil up at Griffin Park once again. Brentford may well have a BMW, Rovers have the AA.

A chastened Brentford now really needed to step up to the challenge and unfortunately, they did. Their first goal was an absolute peach. Ollie Watkins latched on to a lovely long ball and controlled and shot in one smooth movement. The shot fairly rocketed right into the top corner with Walton absolutely helpless. 

Given the circumstances of the Rovers penalty, a cynical observer might suggest that the referee might just be susceptible to an opportunity to even things up. Time and time again as a supporter you believe you see this sort of behaviour from referees; time and time again officials proclaim that such an opinion is nonsense and referees judge each instance on its merits. How many times do you see a dodgy corner so often followed immediately by a free-kick awarded against the attacking side? 

A glance at the key stats and the evidence of your own eyes suggests that this was a hard-earned point against the odds and so it was, but when a couple of goals up with twenty minutes to go, thoughts inevitably drift to the points dropped rather than the one won. There were a number of bright spots emerging from this encounter. Walton, Nyambe, Travis and Armstrong were all on top of their game once again. Young Buckley in the centre displayed some lovely link play, receiving on the half-turn, laying it off just before a challenge and moving into space. Reminiscent in some respects of Duncan McKenzie for those old enough and lucky enough to have seen him in a Rovers shirt.

Rovers are now back in the territory they found themselves in December – close to the play-offs, playing well, a couple of winnable homes coming up in the next week. If this season is to continue beyond the regulation forty-six matches, then realistically, six points has to be the target. The margin of error now is minute. If Rovers are to gatecrash the top six, an average of two points per game from hereon in may still not prove sufficient.

By the way, I still don’t want VAR in the Championship, despite Saturday’s shenanigans. Everyone on the field is human, players and officials alike, it’s a sport not a video game.


A few post-print deadline observations of the Stoke City game :-

That was dreary. As entertaining as root canal work.
Once more Rovers demonstrate why we are amongst the best of the rest, not the best of the best.

The absence of a catalyst to make something happen, a creative spark, a maverick if you will costs Rovers heavily in games like this. It was crying out for some ingenuity from the likes of Dack or a Holtby but nobody selected in their stead could fill the void. Maybe Stead could have filled the void...?

The substitutes could arguably have been used earlier but you got the sense that it was one of those games where had we played all night, we wouldn’t have scored. The mantle of favourites clearly does not rest easily on Rovers' shoulders. A replay of the Wigan game. Even Rich Sharpe Tweeted out "Rovers 0 Wigan 0" at full time.
Chalk it down to experience and move on. Disappointing. Frustrating. Sadly, all too predictable.






Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Herbie6590 unpinned and unfeatured this topic

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.