Dean Smith said he was proud of his patched-up team after they took the three points against Norwich City this evening. With John Egan going down with illness ahead of kick-off, Dean was left without four of his first-choice defenders for the trip to Carrow Road, 20-year-old Chris Mepham coming in to replace The Bees skipper. Despite his reshuffled back-line, Dean’s side kept Norwich City at bay and were well worth their three points on the night.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford after the game, Dean said: “The fact that we have a few injuries in the defensive department makes me ever prouder of the players. Nico Yennaris has come in at right-back and done an excellent job. Chris Mepham came in right at the start of the evening with John Egan feeling unwell and didn’t put a foot wrong. They were well marshalled by Andreas Bjelland and it was a super performance. They have hit the bar and got the goal at the end but those chances were few and far between. That was what pleased me today. In front of them, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Romaine Sawyers, Ryan Woods, and the two wide players worked their socks off. Lasse Vibe wasn’t fully fit but I just thought that it would be a good game for him. They were two super finishes which is what he does best. He couldn’t fully sprint so we got him off in the second-half and Neal Maupay went on to close the game out for us.”
The Bees goals came in the opening 45 minutes as Lasse Vibe converted a pair of Romaine Sawyers through balls for his third and fourth goals of the season. The move for the second goal in particular was a real thing of beauty with Romaine’s reverse pass into the box clinically turned home by the Danish striker. Dean felt that his side showed some of what they were capable of going forward this evening with the football that they played.
“I thought the players stuck to the game-plan excellently and they were two great finishes from Lasse Vibe,” said Dean “It was a superb ball from Romaine Sawyers for the second goal. It was a really well worked goal and I am really pleased for the players with that. We can play some scintillating football at times and we did that today. What really pleased me though was how disciplined we were today without the ball. They are a team that likes to play through you and we made them go on the outside of us, which they don’t really want to do. We defended really well at times and on the counter, we looked blistering and fully deserved the win.”
The Bees have dropped a number of points from winning positions this season and Norwich’s goal in injury-time would have done little to settle the nerves of Bees fans in the ground and at home. After conceding twice in injury-time to draw at QPR a month ago, Dean feels his side have really improved their game management and he was pleased with how his side dealt with the latter stages of tonight’s game.
“Second-half we were excellent at game management and the only disappointment was the goal,” admitted Dean. “We probably could have kept the ball a bit better at times and not dropped as deep as we did but we certainly had some chances on the counter-attack. We are disappointed with the goal but even after that they didn’t have another chance. We have put the balls out of play and won the balls back, pressing them high up. Generally, our game management was good.”
Dean reserved special praise for the 900 Bees fans made the difficult trip East on the final Friday before Christmas saying: “The win sets the home games up nicely. I am really pleased for the supporters. They came in their numbers the night before the last Saturday ahead of Christmas. Their support was fantastic and I am pleased that we gave them three points to go back with in good cheer.”