Bees Head Coach reflects on tonight’s defeat in Hertfordshire
Dean Smith said he got exactly what he wanted out of tonight’s friendly against National League side Boreham Wood despite seeing his side beaten by two goals to one. The Bees used 20 players for their pre-season opener in Hertfordshire with Lewis Macleod and Andreas Bjelland both playing 45 minutes as they continued their return from long-term injuries. The home side scored either side of half-time through Bruno Andrade and Conor Clifford, Macleod grabbing a late consolation for Smith’s side. However, despite the scoreline, Dean was still very happy with the night’s work.
“It was a great exercise,” said Dean, speaking to Bees Player after the final whistle. “We wanted to get 45 minutes out of the boys and we got that. It was great for Andreas Bjelland and Lewis Macleod who have been out for a long time injured and for Scott Hogan, who came back at the end of the season, but unfortunately got a whack in the back late on. We also have the likes of Romaine Sawyers and Lasse Vibe, who have been given a week off after international duty, to come back in Germany. That gave Bradley Clayton, Zain Westbrooke, and Herson Alves the chance to mix in with the players in the first team and they didn’t do themselves any harm.”
Not only did The Bees play a different XI in each half but they also played a different system before and after the break. Dean was pleased with how his side adapted to the new style asked of them and, in the main, was impressed with his side’s performance.
“It was a great test for us because we played two halves, two teams, and two formations so we are introducing a lot of new things in training at the moment,” said Dean. “The lads have relished it to be fair. They are chomping at the bit. It was more of the usual 4-3-2-1 in the first-half but then more of a 3-5-2 in the second. We have got players who can adapt to that system. All our centre-halves are comfortable on the ball and I thought that worked well and we controlled the game quite well. You don’t want to lose but we have switched off from a throw-in and conceded a penalty. We controlled the game for long periods but left our shooting boots at home.”
The Bees returned to pre-season training last Friday at Jersey Road and have been working hard ahead of the new season. Preparations continue tomorrow as the squad heads to Germany for a week-long training camp near Dusseldorf and Dean wants to see another week of hard work just like that last one.
“I am really pleased with what I have seen in pre-season so far,” said Dean. “Seeing how the lads have come in from the first day gives me a lot of hope for the season. The fitness has been fantastic and they look really hungry to be successful this season. There will be another week of hard work next week in Germany. I said to my wife last Sunday that I would see her in two weeks so she has the dog-walking duties. That is what pre-season is about: it is relentless and it is hard work. These 45 minutes today are all about preparing for Huddersfield Town away and the marathon that is ahead. Yesterday we played 11 vs 11 for an hour so I knew that the fatigue would be there. That was the idea to make sure that the concentration was there and they were making good decisions under that fatigue because that is what they have to do week in week out.”
New signing John Egan was involved at Meadow Park in tonight’s friendly with Dan Bentley and Romaine Sawyers not making the trip. Having already made three signings and, after the departures of Jake Bidwell and Jack O’Connell, Dean confirmed that work is well underway to replace Jake and that other areas for strengthening have been identified.
“Everybody knows that with our captain from last season Jake Bidwell going we are looking at left-back,” said Dean. “Tom Field played tonight, had a good 45 minutes and he will get better and better but we certainly need to bring in someone. I have spoken about looking in wide areas as well so there are a number of options out there for us and we will keep looking.”