Championship 2018/19: Brentford Vs Millwall
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Brentford ended a nine-game winless run in all competition with a hard working 2-0 victory at home to fellow promotion rivals Millwall. Newly-appointed head coach Thomas Frank saw his first victory as Brentford manager as strikes from Sergi Canos & Ollie Watkins overcame a stubborn Millwall resistance.
Shocking Opening Ten Minutes
I can honestly say in all my life of watching football, I have never seen a worse opening to a crucial match than what Brentford and Millwall produced, in what was some of the most shocking football Griffin Park would have seen this season. From the stray passes to ill-thought of long balls, the opening 10 minutes had it all. This made the tempo in the first 10 minutes rather quick, however, both Brentford and Millwall did not display an ounce of composure in bringing the ball down and attempting to play football. The first 10 minutes also saw ZERO shots on goal for both Brentford and Millwall, which rather sums up the poor nature of the beginning to the match.
What also emphasised the dreadful opening to the game on Saturday afternoon was the amount of times possession was surrendered. In the opening 10 minutes, possession was given away a total of 35 times, with Brentford surrendering the ball 17 times, and their opponents Millwall, 18.
Below are images depicting just four times where Brentford and Millwall players gave away possession cheaply, rather than showing composure.
Stubborn Millwall Defensive Work
As mentioned at the beginning of this analysis, Brentford earned a hard-working victory vs a stubborn Millwall side. After an opening 10 minutes lacking in pretty much everything, stubbornness is exactly what the opposition as they managed to hold out a free-flowing Brentford attack for the rest of the half. A mixture of good shape and a rigid formation helped Millwall reduce Brentford to just three shots on target for the entirety of the fixture on Saturday. As well as just three shots on target the entire game, Millwall also limited Brentford to just seven shots in the entire second half, with four of those shots off-target and the other three blocked by Millwall defenders.
After a shaky opening 10 minutes, Millwall settled down into a shape that frustrated Brentford. Below are annotated images of the shape and formation that ensured Millwall came out firmly on top, in a good first-half for the Lions.
Shape and formation were not the only things Millwall succeeded in doing in a good first-half defensive display. The Lions also ensured that they retreated into the shape and formation to ensure that they weren’t caught out on the break.
However, whilst Millwall retained a good shape and formation on Saturday, they did afford Brentford the wide positions by staying compact. Brentford could’ve made use of the wide positions, however, failed to do so. In the image below, Romaine Sawyers provides a switch of play, one of a very few times Brentford’s midfield played such passes. More frequent use of wide areas could’ve made Brentford’s creativity much better, and their afternoon much easier in their attempts at gaining three points.
Brentford eventually found a way past Millwall’s defence, and it was a goal that matched just how the game was being played throughout the entire first half. Millwall gave the ball away deep inside their own half, after a smashed clearance came off Millwall Forward Tom Elliott.
The ball rebounded into the path of Nico Yennaris, who passed the ball to Neal Maupay, who in turn slid the ball to Sergi Canos, who put the Bees up 1-0. The nature of the goal highlighted how little creativity Brentford had on the day, as it took a Millwall mistake to eventually score the opening goal of the game.
Despite Millwall’s mistake in Brentford’s opening goal, Sergi Canos’ run is the key in creating Saturday’s opening goal. His run off the back of Murray Wallace in behind the Millwall defence allowed Neal Maupay to play a pass for him to coolly slot in the game’s opening goal.
As the game carried on Millwall looked for an equaliser, which made the South East Londoners susceptible to the counter-attack. Brentford broke and scored in the 85th minute to end all hope of a Millwall comeback. At this point in the game, Millwall have lost all shape and discipline in their search for an equaliser. Therefore, Ollie Watkins and Maupay are left two-on-two with Millwall defenders Shaun Hutchinson and Mahlon Romeo, who are out-of-shape and allow Watkins a clean run through on goal to finish the game off.