Loan star stakes a claim for manager War­bur­ton

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Sam El­liott

FOR a man Brent­ford don’t trust to be in charge of their player re­cruit­ment, Mark War­bur­ton found a pretty good wit­ness for the de­fence in Alex Pritchard.

In the first game since it was con­firmed that the Bees manager is to leave at the end of the sea­son, on­loan Tot­ten­ham star Pritchard was in­spi­ra­tional in get­ting the club’s Pre­mier League push back on track.

Owner Chris Ben­ham hasn’t got enough faith in War­bur­ton’s meth­ods, but the player the manager tracked, the player he has im­proved and the player he has se­lected has shone all sea­son. Yes­ter­day, he un­did the only side to chal­lenge Brent­ford for the crown of the Cham­pi­onship’s sur­prise pack­age.

War­bur­ton is go­ing, but he is determined to leave with his head held high. He wants a say on trans­fers, an as­sur­ance owner Matthew Ben­ham just can’t give. Re­place­ment Paco Je­mez, though, will no doubt fall quickly into line.

Out­stand­ing Pritchard, with a match-turn­ing goal and two as­sists, is proof that his popular manager is bet­ter than he’s been given credit for. Just ask the fans cheer­ing his name at the fi­nal whis­tle.

War­bur­ton said: “It was fan­tas­tic re­ac­tion from a great set of play­ers. Pritch was ex­cel­lent and he loves those kind of en­coun­ters, he comes into his own but the team were ab­so­lutely su­perb. They re­ally stood up.

“I just have to get on with things. It’s dis­re­spect­ful to my play­ers to not give any­thing less than 100 per cent to this, re­gard­less of the sit­u­a­tion I find my­self in. The team have given me what they have so of­ten – char­ac­ter and com­mit­ment. I need to re­pay that.

“I have worked with most of them for four years now, it’s the way it has to be. They de­serve noth­ing less than me giv­ing this ev­ery­thing I have got.”

The first chance fell to free-scor­ing Bournemouth in the sev­enth minute, Simon Fran­cis skipped past makeshift full-back Stu­art Dal­las and crossed for Cal­lum Wil­son but David But­ton was equal to it.

Yann Ker­mor­gant is en­joy­ing one of his most fruit­ful sea­sons but he un­rav­eled in­side his own box. Pritchard did well but the Cher­ries man dithered just where he couldn’t.

Jonathan Dou­glas didn’t wait around and he thun­dered the ball into the net, gob­bling up the loose ball in­side ten min­utes.

Jota and im­pres­sive Pritchard then cre­ated good chances but this time pun­ish­ment for a mis­take was in wait­ing at the other end.

Bournemouth were level when Marc Pugh prof­ited when Toumani Di­agouraga was loose in pos­ses­sion. His first at­tempt hit the post as he stum­bled, but the winger was there to tap in the re­bound on the half hour.

A great game was un­fold­ing. An­dre Gray raced through, he rounded Ar­tur Boruc but an on-the­line res­cue act was per­formed by Steve Cook.

Then, with sec­onds of the first half re­main­ing, Boruc took leave of his senses. Pritchard is ex­cep­tional, his free-kick was hardly that. But some­how the goal­keeper made a meal of it – half punch, half pat and it squirmed in.

With Matt Ritchie taken off at half­time with a sec­ond yel­low card threat­en­ing, sub­sti­tute Ryan Fraser al­most vin­di­cated that tough de­ci­sion. Within min­utes of his in­tro­duc­tion his low shot can­noned off But­ton’s post and Fraser could- n’t get his fol­low-up on tar­get. Wil­son twice from range and twice with the goal at his mercy wasted chances as Ed­die Howe’s side turned the screw.

Though Jota, eight min­utes from time, smashed a curl­ing shot against the bar and five min­utes later Boruc de­nied him one-on-one.

Jota missed an­other one-on-one, this time in the 90th minute, be­fore Boruc denyied Pritchard.

But it was over soon enough. Pritchard’s cross picked out sub­sti­tute Chris Long and his tap in put both teams out of their mis­ery three min­utes into in­jury time.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

BLOCK: Bournemouth’s Yann Ker­mor­gant is stopped by Brent­ford keeper David But­ton and Tony Craig

MAN OF THE MO­MENT: Brent­ford’s Alex Pritchard cel­e­brates scor­ing their sec­ond goal

OPENER: Bournemouth’s Marc Pugh cel­e­brates scor­ing the first

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