The Monday Profile: Sam Saunders
Andy Scott‘s departure from Brentford may have come as something of a surprise to many, but one of his former signings appears to be reaping the benefits. Brought in from Dagenham along with fellow Daggers Ben Strevens and Danny Foster ahead of the 2009-10 season, winger Sam Saunders arrived with his eyes on the prize, but the intervening eighteen months have seen the Bexleyheathian struggle to match actions with words. “If you don’t shoot you don’t score”, Saunders had philosophized as he set himself double figure goal and assist targets, clearly failing to anticipate that he would be limited to starting in less than a third of Brentford’s league games that season.
A fresh campaign would have brought renewed hope of first-team minutes, but the entrance of a number of rival suitors for the wing berths pecked away Saunders’ chances of establishing himself as Scott’s first choice wide man. It didn’t take long for frustrations to be aired, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time until Saunders would join Strevens and Foster in leaving for pastures new.
Instead, though, it was Scott who was shown the door after a dreadful run of form culminated in a 4-1 defeat at Dagenham. Incoming caretaker Nicky Forster reacted by making a number of changes for his managerial debut against Plymouth, which included the selection of Saunders and Myles Weston on the flanks. Neither player needed a second invitation. While Weston took the plaudits by scoring both goals in a 2-0 win for the M4-huggers, Saunders also caught the eye, supplying the cross for Weston’s first and generally making up for lost time by causing all manner of problems with his pace and directness of play. Substituted after an hour, Saunders was rightly given a standing ovation, perhaps indicating that Forster’s decision to play him was a knowingly populist one.
A goal in Brentford’s 2-1 Paint Trophy win at Exeter followed in midweek before Saunders started a third successive game in the Bees’ score draw in Buckinghamshire on Saturday. Saunders has unsurprisingly gone on record to back Forster for the position permanently, and with three consecutive home fixtures coming up against Tranmere, Bristol Rovers and Notts County he may well get his wish. If things keep on going as they have been, perhaps Saunders will manage to finally achieve that goal target.