Brentford beat Reading 3-1 after a scintillating first half performance which saw the Bees blitz the visitors with three goals.
First half goals from Mads Bech Sorensen and a brace from the lively Bryan Mbeumo – aided by a lively show from Ivan Tomey – saw the Bees head into the break 3-0 up.
Reading pulled a goal back through Sone Aluko, but the damage was done by Thomas Frank’s impressive Bees - who moved up to fourth in the Championship with their fourth home win of the season.
The wonderfully evocative Griffin Park is no more. Long live the Brentford Community Stadium.
This fine old club founded in 1889 in a quiet corner of west London had been plying their trade at the ground with a pub on each corner from 1904, until before the Covid crisis hit.
The pandemic has ruined plenty of things during this dreadful year, so a planned farewell to Griffin Park after long terms plans to move, might not rank high on that list.
Yet, for those who love English stadiums full of character, bursting with quirks, wondrous floodlights and stands with many a story to tell, the loss – and lack of a proper farewell - for the Bees former ground was just another sad story in a year full of them.
A nod to an archaic past isn’t always a bad thing, so long as you can still look to future – which is exactly what this progressive club near the Thames has done.
Brentford have always had strong links to their community, so the naming of their brand spanking new ground wasn’t another of those bland, corporate social decisions that pay lip service to boxes that need to be ticked.
It was just such a shame there were no fans allowed in to sample the new stadium – and watch their equally outstanding team.
Frozen in time
Robin Friday, the best footballer you never saw, played for both teams during his peripatetic career, highlighted through the book of the same name, and Super Furry Animals chaotic tribute to a chaotic life.
Yet, the mind wandered back to fine old Brentford stalwarts of the past. From club record appearance maker Danis Salman – who made his league debut as a raw 15-year-old back in the 1970s, to the Bees fine side of the late 1980s and early 1990s that reached the quarter finals of the 1989 FA Cup.
A 4-0 loss at the hands of the mighty Liverpool at their peak in their Anfield citadel was enlivened by the sight of 6,000 inflatable Bees in the away end that day.
Brentford, being homely Brentford, got a job lot on the inflatables, which, along with Manchester City’s bananas and Grimsby Town’s Harry Haddock, were the craze of the day. The discount on the deal meant that the unofficial merchandise, would not, shall we say, have passed trading standards. And as they saw their on-field hopes deflate against Kenny Dalgish’s rampant Reds, so too did the inflatables themselves, as thousands of plastic Bees went as flat as their dreams on Merseyside.
Who can also forget the Bees climactic 4-0 rout of near neighbours Fulham on a glorious Sunday morning in late April 1992, as they went on to clinch promotion to the second tier for the first time since the 1950s.
Further back, Brentford were a regular fixture in the old first Division in the 1930s, showing their pedigree by often upsetting the team of that decade, Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal.
And despite recent play-off misses against Middlesbrough and, cruelly, this summer, in a frantic Wembley final sans supporters, to west London rivals Fulham, in a galling defeat that many thought would see a fine side broken up.
Yet, getting top dollar from Aston Villa - £28m - for the lively Ollie Watkins has seen Thomas Frank’s Bees buzz into the heady heights of sixth place before kick-off and rising, in the Championship, prior to hosting Reading, in an M4 derby of sorts.
Captain Ethan Pinnock missed the game after seeing red at Vicarage Road, while Reading made two changes from their loss to Norwich, with Sam Baldock and Tomas Esteves starting in a squad of 20, that had an admirable 10 academy graduates.
Reading starter Josh Laurent came through the Bees youth system to carve out a good career, while Royals centre-back Liam Moore appeared for Brentford in League One and the Championship.
Jayden Onen, on the bench for the visitors only recently left west London after a spell for their B team while the Bees Tarique Fosue was a youth at Reading.
Veljko Paunovic’s fifth placed side came into the game with two defeats in their last five, including a 2-1 home loss to Norwich City, whose 2-1 triumph on Wednesday propelled the Canaries to the top of the Championship.
Frank’s Bees drew with Watford in midweek in a 1-1 draw that saw captain Pinnock sent off and miss the match against Reading.
The week before the club had eagerly welcomed 2,000 fans for their goalless draw against Derby County, prior to London moving into Tier 3 and the removal of supporters once again, as they went seven unbeaten in their new stadium to make it 12 without loss in total.
Sandwiched in between the Bees clinched an excellent 3-1 victory against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Brentford came racing out of the traps and were rewarded when Mathias Jensen’s fiercely struck drive went through Reading keeper Rafael Cabral and over the line to put Brentford 1-0 up on only 11 minutes.
While one felt for the goalkeeper, it was sad to note that it was his error - and his error alone - that saw the home side take the lead, after excellent work down the left flank by Mads Bech Sorensen.
Former Bees player Moore had a low drive for Reading saved by the alert David Raya in goal for the home side ten minutes later.
But it was the home side that were showing industry and artistry in equal measure in a committed opening that was to explode spectacularly.
Moments later, Brentford had doubled their lead through an outstanding left-footed strike from Bryan Mbeumo.
The former Troyes winger, who signed for the Bees in August 2019 for just under £6m, received a crossfield pass from former Arsenal academy star Josh Dasilva on the right flank. There was still plenty of work to do as he cut in to angle a superlative curler past the increasingly beleaguered Cabral in the Royals goal, to make it 2-0.
It was good to see Mbeumo, the talented 21-year-old showcase his ability, a talent that shone through last season, with 16 goals in 47 appearances for the Bees in their brave, but ill-feted tilt at reaching the promised land of the Premier League.
Eight minutes later, Mbeumo grabbed his second of the match and only his third all season.
Ivan Tomey – who the Reading backline had found all but unplayable during the first half - played the ball into Mbeumo, who pushed the ball to turn and fire past Cabral - and make it 3-0, before half an hour had elapsed.
Reading were simply shellshocked by the pace, power and intensity of Frank’s impressive side and looked a beaten side with two thirds of the match still remaining and it was with some relief that referee Keith Stroud blew the whistle for the interval.
As the rain pelted down at the start of the second half, you could be forgiven for thinking the weather was a portent to Reading’s chances, such was Brentford’s dominance. Yet, the Royals had pride to play for and forced a good save by Raya from Ovie Ejaria eight minutes after the break.
A lengthy break stalled momentum after Jensen received treatment for a head injury.
Yet the Royals re-started the livelier side and Sone Aluko grabbed one back for the visitors in a crowded box to make it 3-1. The goal came after Fosue had done well to stop Tomas Esteves prior to Aluko heading home for his second of the season.
Surely Reading couldn’t fashion a comeback? No, was the answer despite their attacking intent, mainly prompted by Ovie Ejaria.
Ejaria, a former Arsenal and Liverpool youth, then forced Raya into a smart reaction save at the near post.
Yet there was still time for Toney to thud the bar with a header late on, but as the clock ticked down, Brentford saw out the game to seal a deserved 3-1 victory.
The win saw the Bees head to fourth, while the visitors dropped out of the all-important play-of spots.
Reading for their part have now picked up only 11 points from their last 11 games after such a good start.
Today, however, their defeat was more to do with Brentford’s brilliance than the Royals misfiring.
With Newcastle next in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, who’s to say the humble Bees could be on the verge of a memorable season.
Man of the match
Everywhere you looked this Brentford side were superb from Raya in goal, to Rico Henry down the right flank, to Charlie Goode, Sergi Canos and Jensen, not to mention Dasilva, quietly carving out a career after leaving Arsenal.
But the headlines have to go to Mbeumo assisted by Tomey, with these two – and many others in this fine side – surely destined for top flight football sooner rather than later.
Despite his lack of goals against Reading, Tomey started the game as top score in the Championship with 16 goals since he joined from Peterborough earlier this season.
So. Man of the match? It has to be Mbeumo.
For his two goals.
But it was a close run thing with Toney.
Keep an eye out for the pair because, my word, they are going places. As is this superb side that Brentford boss Thomas Frank has built.