Alexander the Great

A glut of goals from Gary Alexander in January has rekindled Brentford’s hopes of making a challenge for the play-offs.

He scored six times in five games, including the fourth hat-trick of his career, to revive the Bees, who were in danger of slipping into mid-table.

As I have highlighted in previous columns, the bane of Brentford’s season has been their goalscoring, which for most of the campaign has left them as the lowest scorers in the top half of the table.

But a 2-2 draw at home to Tranmere, a 3-2 defeat at Huddersfield, and 5-2 hammering of Wycombe have changed all that despite blanks against Charlton and Walsall.

“Wycombe were poor but that should not in any way detract from a performance in which everything clicked.”

What has been even more encouraging about the run of Alexander, who also scored four times in December, has been that five of his six goals last month came from open play.

The win against Wycombe was something home fans had been awaiting for a while.

The team have struggled at Griffin Park, except for August’s 5-0 thrashing of Leyton Orient and the 6-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy rout of Bournemouth in November.

But last Saturday, with a different formation chosen by manager Uwe Rosler specifically for the game, they looked a different side.

Wycombe were poor but that should not in any way detract from a performance in which everything clicked.

Lining up in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Sam Saunders playing in an unfamiliar central role behind the strikers, the Bees unusually had no wingers although full-backs Shaleum Logan and Jake Bidwell were given licence to push forward.

Ironic then that four of the five goals came from crosses from the wings, two from Bidwell and the other two from the hard-working Clayton Donaldson, while the fourth came from Marcus Bean’s refusal to give up a lost cause.

Alexander’s perfect hat-trick: header, left-foot finish and right-foot finish, will leave Brentford fans hoping that he, along with Saunders, signs the new contract he has been offered.

One inspiration for the Wycombe performance was undoubtedly the sense of injustice felt over the previous week’s controversial defeat at Huddersfield.

The foul on West London Sport columnist Richard Lee, referred to in the goalkeeper’s blog last week, which produced the Terriers’ first goal, was not awarded by the referee, even though most people – including Town manager Lee Clark – felt the effort should have been disallowed.

Brentford were superb in the first half hour in which they raced into a two-goal lead, which could easily have been three.

Had they held the lead until half-time then who knows what might have happened but the fact they lost, even given the circumstances, continued their poor run against the top teams this season.

The issue they must overcome now, if they are to make the top six, is their results against these leading sides.

They have failed to beat any of the the teams currently above them in the table and the only side in the top half they have overcome is Hartlepool.

They have, though, done well against the mid to lower teams, which means that February does appear on paper to give them a real chance of reaching the top six.

Only Carlisle, who visit Griffin Park for a rearranged live Sky TV game on Monday 20th, are above them in the table.

Other than that Brentford travel to Preston, Colchester (on Valentine’s Day) and Scunthorpe while they also entertain Oldham.

With a trip to Yeovil at the start of March, this is a real opportunity for the Bees, who then face Sheffield United and MK Dons later that month.

Finally, I can’t remember a quieter transfer window for the club.

Sam Wood (on loan) and Michael Spillane left and a couple of development players came in, but otherwise there were no major changes.

Time will tell if the current squad is good enough to be involved in the end-of-season shake-up, although the loan market does re-open next week if any more strengthening is needed.

At least they have given themselves a chance and they should also achieve Rosler’s first pre-season target of being in the top 10 with two months of the season remaining.

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