October was the hardest month so far of Uwe Rosler’s short reign as Brentford manager.
The side had a mixed bag of results and continued to struggle at home until the last of four games at Griffin Park, while the boss also had a disagreement with supporters.
However, as well as finally earning a home win, Rosler also solved a problem which had persisted in the early weeks of the campaign and which I highlighted in my column last month – of not being able to rescue a game from a losing position.
Twice they came from behind to earn an away draw; in an entertaining game at Carlisle and a controversial one at Notts County – the first time they got anything out of a League game in which they had gone behind this season.
They also finished the month in eighth position, just two points off the play-offs and well positioned to maintain a challenge for a top six place.
And there was a further boost when goalkeeper Richard Lee signed a one-year extension to his contract.
Their away form continued to be better than that at Griffin Park, with still the only away defeat being at Sheffield United back in mid-August.
“Things are beginning to look up ahead of an important run of games in November.”
That run will be severely tested this Saturday, however, when the Bees return to the Steel City to play Sheffield Wednesday, whose formidable home record this season reads played seven, won seven.
Brentford’s superb away performances were summed up in arguably their best display of the season in the first week of October when they took apart Charlton 3-0 in the second round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Yes the League One leaders made several team changes and may not have regarded the competition as their first priority. But that still takes nothing away from a brilliant display by the Bees led by an excellent personal performance by fit-again midfielder Toumani Diagouraga.
The away day delight continued three days later with a deserved point in a 2-2 draw at Carlisle.
The month’s final away game, at Meadow Lane a fortnight later, contained everything: a controversial penalty, a stunning equaliser, a manager getting sent off, ex-players facing their former club, and even hot sunshine beating down on nearly 600 travelling fans.
Former Brentford boss Martin Allen, now in charge at County, started with three ex-Bees stalwarts in goalkeeper Stuart Nelson, midfielder Gavin Mahon and striker Ben Burgess, with another in defender Sam Sodje on the bench.
Mahon, who sported dreadlocks when playing for the Bees 10 years ago but who now has a completely shaven head, suffered an early injury and went off before the fun and games started.
Around the half hour mark, Rosler was sent to the stands after clashing with Alan Sheehan, who had entered the Brentford technical area to take a free-kick. Allen had also come into the area in front of the Bees dugout before Rosler was dismissed and forced to watch the rest of the match from the main stand.
Soon afterwards County took the lead from a penalty awarded for a challenge that most Brentford fans did not see at the time and the visitors went in at the break one down.
Some of the Bees faithful missed Clayton Donaldson’s amazing equaliser, later described by the striker as the best goal he has ever scored, which came 13 seconds after the break.
In contrast to the fun in the sun, the results at home were completely different in the last month of the British summer.
Huddersfield looked a class act as they handed out a 4-0 hammering on the first day of the month with almost inevitably Jordan Rhodes, a loan player the Bees were unable to buy permanently, bagging a brace.
Two weeks later Brentford were unable to mark the club’s contribution to the Football League’s Family Football Festival with anything more than a goalless draw against struggling Scunthorpe.
And then another disappointing performance in the next home game against Stevenage allowed the visitors a 1-0 win on their first-ever visit.
By the time of Chesterfield’s visit, Rosler had decided once again to play two strikers and the move paid off with a welcome home victory.
Sam Saunders was once again the talisman, as he had been in the last home win over Leyton Orient in August. The winger scored a stunning 25-yard free-kick for the opener and then delivered the corner from which new loan signing Dale Bennett headed the late winner.
In-between, Chesterfield’s in-form striker Leon Clarke had levelled – leading to more disquiet among the home fans, some of whom were criticised by Rosler in his post-match press conference.
Now that particular hurdle has been overcome, and with important players like Saunders, Shaleum Logan and Gary Alexander back from injury, things are beginning to look up ahead of an important run of games in November.
The Bees face five more matches during the month including big ones against Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton as well as two cup ties.
Both those league games, as well as the one at Rochdale which ends the month, will be real tests of where Brentford actually are in their progress. They have lost to all the big teams they have faced in the league so far so positive results in either game would be a great achievement.
The Bees would also want to continue their interest in the remaining two cup competitions into December after being drawn at home twice for a change.
Improving Bournemouth come visiting in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern quarter-finals before Conference South side Basingstoke, including former Brentford goalkeeper Ashley Bayes, provide first round FA Cup opposition four days later.