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Ruben Neves nets winner as Wolves beat Brentford 2-1 following drone chaos

Ruben Neves nets winner as Wolves beat Brentford 2-1 following drone chaos

‘Remember the day,’ said the Brentford PA announcer. ‘January 22, 2022.’ Cue ripples of laughter around the ground.

Come the final whistle, result aside, there was a wave of relief that it had come to an end, albeit 38 or so minutes after it was scheduled to conclude.

The short version is three goals, two concussion subs, an overturned red card by VAR, a failed microphone pack putting the ref in limbo and an ‘unauthorised drone’ that threatened to throw this match into disrepute. Oh, and Thomas Frank got sent off after the final whistle sounded.

Ruben Neves (left) scored the winner as Wolves beat Brentford 2-1 on Saturday

First, the six-minute delay. Midway through the first half there was a sickening clash of heads between Brentford’s Rico Henry and Mathias Jenson. A true moment of horror that had both benches pacing anxiously.

Jose Sa’s long kick upfield had threatened to set 19-year-old striker Fabio Silva, in for his first Premier League start this season with Raul Jimenez out injured, before Henry and Jensen collided head on at full speed.

Both players stayed down and both teams’ physios came to attend as nasty cuts left the two players mopping up blood.

The game was stopped during the first half after a drone hovered above the stadium

The game was stopped during the first half after a drone hovered above the stadium

A six-minute delay, which did not eventually require a stretcher for either player, saw both removed officially as ‘concussion substitutes’ but neither managed to clear protocol and return.

Then came the ridiculousness.

With the clock at 31 minutes referee Peter Bankes looked to the sky and after a brief dialogue over his microphone – it was working then – ordered both sets of players back to their dressing rooms due to an ‘unauthorised drone’ causing a safety issue.

On and on the delay went without further instruction to confused fans, the drone playing a cat-and-mouse game in the sky like something out of a Tom and Jerry episode with the police helicopter, which stuck around long after the drone scarpered.

Referee Peter Bankes spoke to both teams and ordered them off the pitch

Referee Peter Bankes spoke to both teams and ordered them off the pitch

Brentford and Wolves players leave the field of play due to a drone flying over the pitch

Brentford and Wolves players leave the field of play due to a drone flying over the pitch

It took 19 minutes to get the players on the pitch and back with a mini warm-up completed. Add on the six from the injuries to Henry and Jensen and the first half came to a close 71 minutes after it started. 

All without a shot on target, too, but that seemed rather inconsequential at that point, as Brentford’s official Twitter account called for jokes from fans to pass the time.

It felt rather fitting then that moments before the second-half was due to start, referee Bankes’ microphone pack failed. Course it did. The most disruptive game in recent Premier League memory. Add on another five minutes while he got rewired in the tunnel.

Nineteen minutes were added on at the end of the first time following the lengthy stoppage

Nineteen minutes were added on at the end of the first time following the lengthy stoppage

‘This is embarrassing,’ chanted the Brentford fans.

‘We want our money back,’ sang the travelling Wolves support.

Wolves boss Bruno Lage could only smile as Bankes undressed to be rewired. What could go wrong was going wrong, even if it was 0-0, but least he could see the funny side.

He had genuine reason to smile three minutes after the restart when, after a clever one-two with Nelson Semedo, Joao Moutinho scored a stunning opener with the outside of his left boot.

Joao Moutinho put Wolves in front early in the second half with a smart finish

Joao Moutinho put Wolves in front early in the second half with a smart finish

Before Ivan Toney equalised for Brentford with his seventh goal of the season

Before Ivan Toney equalised for Brentford with his seventh goal of the season 

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYERS RATINGS 

Brentford (3-5-2): Lossl (GK) 6; Pinnock 6, Ajer 5, Jansson 6.5; Canos 6.5 (Ghoddos 83), Norgaard 5, Janelt 6, Jensen 5 (Baptiste 27, Forss 79), Henry 5 (Roerslev 27, Wissa 55); Toney 7, Mbeumo 7

Subs not used: Fernandez (GK), Bidstrup, Sorensen, Stevens

Goals: Toney (71)

Booked: Norgaard, Jansson

Manager: Thomas Frank 4

Wolves (3-5-2): Sa (GK) 6; Toti Gomes 5, Coady 7, Kilman 6; Semedo 7, Neves 7, Moutinho 7.5, Dendoncker 5.5, Ait-Nouri 7; Podence 6, Silva 5 (Traore 75)

Subs not used: Ruddy (GK), Hoever, Marcal, Jordao, Trincao, Tavares de Oliveira, Giles, Cundle

Goals: Moutinho (48), Neves (78)

Booked: Neves, Sa, Gomes

Manager: Bruno Lage 7.5

Referee: Peter Bankes 7

It was a strike that was not all surprising. After all, Brentford, for as well as they lay, have conceded the opening goal in 14 of their last 15 league games.

Brentford are as refreshing as they are frustrating. Frustrating in the sense that they get so much of their play right before getting the key part wrong.

Wolves would always be a tough nut to crack, with the second best defence in the league behind Man City, and so it would require something really special.

That came 19 minutes before the end when Bryan Mbeumo’s free-kick was lofted to the back-post where Ivan Toney was able to hammer in on the volley. At 1-1 it was two goals of the highest order and yet all anyone could wonder was – would another drone arrive to spoil the fun?

Drone drama was over but there was still room for a red card shown to Toti Gomes for a sliding challenge on Pontus Jansson, before Bankes and VAR downgraded that to a yellow. It was the right call.

And then came the dagger as Ruben Neves, brilliant for much of this contest, curled into the bottom right corner to win it.

There was still time for Tottenham-bound Adama Traore to come off the bench, score, and have it chalked off for offside.

When the final whistle boss sounded and Frank raced on to confront the referee he was booked, before that got changed to a red amid a verbal tirade.

He could only look to the sky but this time there was no drone, just another opportunity missed.

 

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