Bees rain on Latics’ parade
Reporter: CHRIS LYNHAM
Date online: 14 January 2013
Athletic 0, Brentford 2
THIS was a classic missed opportunity for Latics.
The club went into the game watched by more than 1,000 more supporters than usual, following the heroic victory over Nottingham Forest in the cup and the retention of Reece Wabara and - most impressively - Jose Baxter.
All the ingredients, then, for an up and at 'em performance with feelgood factor coursing through everyone’s veins.
One-time Athletic target Clayton Donaldson pricked the bubble of optimism with barely five minutes on the clock, with the kind of powerful header that brought him to Paul Dickov's attention. He struck again eight minutes from the end.
There was no lack of effort on the hosts' part, but the absence of captain Dean Furman, all-action James Wesolowski and skilful Cristian Montano robbed them of their creativity and tempo.
Youngster Carl Winchester partnered Youssouf Mchangama in the engine room and both struggled to get forward as their physical counterparts imposed themselves.
There was absolutely no joy down the flanks. Robbie Simpson was ineffective down one side and on the other Lee Croft had one of those days he will be keen to forget.
Reece Wabara plugged away behind him all afternoon, but there were not many opportunities.
Baxter was fighting a lonely battle. He was by far the most likely man to drag Dickov's men back into the contest, but Brentford made it hard to pick out a teammate in any kind of threatening position.
Stolen moments and snapshots were the order of the day, but when Winchester and Baxter pulled off a classy one-two just before the interval, it was the one occasion Athletic sliced through the defence.
It got the fans on their feet and ensured a hearty applause at the whistle. But Athletic did not build on the momentum and the second period was a letdown.
The visitors grew into the match as the second half wore on. Mchangama should probably have provided better cover and was found wanting in the tracking-back department.
Despite the positives around the club, there was another home league loss to ponder.
Liverpool in the cup is all well and good, but Athletic need points on the table - sooner rather than later.
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