Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith admitted it wasn’t a classic performance as his side beat Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa at a wet and wild Griffin Park this evening. Romaine Sawyers’ perfectly-placed strike opened the scoring midway through the first-half but Josh Onomah headed Villa back level on the half-hour. The decisive goal came early on in the second period as Lasse Vibe poked home a Josh McEachran corner.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford after the game, Dean said: “I thought it was a good performance but it wasn’t a deluxe performance. We moved the ball really well against a good team. There were mistakes in the game but there were always going to be with the conditions. I thought there were going to be more clear-cut chances given the conditions. We scored when we were on top: a well-worked goal. Sergi Canos was a thorn in their side all night. I told the boys at half-time to keep feeding him because he looked like he was having one of those nights he can have. Maybe we could have given ourselves a bit more daylight and stopped the six minutes of pressure at the end.”
With Josh Clarke and Henrik Dalsgaard still missing, and captain John Egan remaining on the sick-list, it was another patched up back four which Dean Smith fielded this evening. There was more reason for concern late on with both Andreas Bjelland and Chris Mepham requiring extensive treatment for facial injuries. Dean believes tonight showed the character and grit which teams need to achieve in the second tier.
“We have got a centre-midfielder at right-back and centre-half playing left-back,” said Dean. “We have two kids on the bench as we are down the bare bones. There was a lot of character shown at the death. There was claret coming out of heads and noses but they stood up firm. That is what you have to do in this league. It is a tough league and you have to battle for points week in week out.”
More positive injury news saw Alan Judge return to the matchday 18 this evening for the first time since April 2016 after recovering from a leg injury. Dean was obviously delighted to have the 2016 Player of the Year back in action but admits he will have to be eased back into the fray.
“It is great for him as it gives him a boost and it is great for the supporters,” said Dean. “He still needs more minutes as he played 45 against Barnet and 65 minutes against Wolves for the B Team. Unfortunately, there are no games for him to play in this period so he just has to keep training hard. It was nice to have him on the bench today.”
Victory tonight keeps Brentford in the top-half and means the gap between Dean’s side and the Play-Off places is seven points heading into Saturday’s game against Sheffield Wednesday at Griffin Park. The win also extends the unbeaten home run in the Sky Bet Championship to 11 games, going back to August.
“I said to the players before the game today that it is the start of the second-half of the season,” Dean explained. “Considering that we didn’t win for our first eight games it is nice to get a win at the start of the second-half. If we can replicate what we have done since then, with only two defeats in 17 games, but with more wins than draws then we will be moving in the right direction. It is not the most salubrious dressing rooms for the away teams to come into but we have to use that to our advantage.”