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  • By Yann Tear at Brentford Community Stadium

Bees intent on hitting ground running as they fast-track Premier League acclimatisation process

Brentford 0-1 West Ham

They simply couldn’t wait.

Brentford have waited the best part of three-quarters of a century to get back into the top flight. With all those delicious new fixtures on the horizon, you’d think they might have been OK with waiting a little longer to rub shoulders with the elite. But no.

In midweek it was Manchester United away. Sanwiched between that little encounter and a visit from Valencia next Saturday, Thomas Frank’s men pitted their wits against another of the Premier League regulars, West Ham.

No messing about. Test the temperature of the water at the earliest opportunity. Find reassurance in making such fixtures as routine as possible. Late-July fixtures at Hampton & Richmond or Wycombe Wanderers are not on the menu this year.

It paid off at Old Trafford, where the Bees returned with a fine 2-2 draw. This time, with the opening league match against Arsenal less than a fortnight away, it was the turn of a full-strength Hammers outfit to test their mettle.

In reality, it never pays to read too much into pre-season friendlies – which are effectively no more than glorified training sessions, after all – but the Bees more than held their own and seemed to relish their new status, mixing it with such opponents.

The fans certainly did, turning out in healthy numbers, with a decent contingent from east London also populating the east sections of the Brentford Community Stadium – which is set to get its official public unveiling when their illustrious Spanish visitors come to town next week.

There is so much novelty in all this after virtually 18-months of exile from the game for most fans because of the wretched pandemic. You could understand their desire to get back into the old/new routines.

For many, it is the double excitement of a return to attending live matches and also venturing into the new playground that is the shiny new stadium by Kew Bridge.

This should be a season to remember.

As for the game itself, it was pleasant enough, if you like that sort of thing. And it flowed reasonably well, even allowing for usual flurry of substitutes, which usually disrupt the flow.

Michail Antonio had the ball in the home side’s net before the break, but the effort was ruled out. Said Benrahma teased and tricked his way around defenders as he made the most of a return to his old club and he unleashed a superb strike from outside the box on 65 minutes which found the top corner and settled the outcome.

It was something home fans used to enjoy seeing him produce for them.

Hammers fans could give an airing to the bubbles song.

For the Bees, there was still no sign of record signing Kristoffer Ajer from Celtic but there were big cheers just past the hour when Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo came on.

Shadon Baptiste came off the bench and thrashed a shot against an upright as the home side turned in a lively display. The result, of course, is of little consequence. The bigger picture is healthy for both sides.


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