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Dean Smith: “We were excellent in the first-half”

21 February 2017

Brentford Head Coach on tonight’s 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday

Dean Smith hailed it as a fantastic evening after first-half goals from John Egan and Harlee Dean wrapped up a 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough tonight. The Bees controlled the opening 45 minutes and deservedly led at the break thanks to pair of set-piece headers late on in the opening period. Fernando Forestieri pulled one back for the home side in second-half injury time but it proved nothing more than a consolation.

“It was a fantastic evening because this is a tough place to come,” said Dean, speaking to Bees Player after the match. “Looking at the quality of their players, they will be a top six side. I thought we were excellent in the first-half. We started really well and controlled the game. We were good on the ball and created opportunities. We scored two set-piece headers, which were probably our hardest chances. We made it very difficult for them, played through them and played round them. I said at half-time that if we didn’t win it would be down to us not down to them. If I am being picky I didn’t think we were as good on the ball in the second-half. They put us under a lot of pressure so some of our clearances were rushed. If we show a little bit more composure we could win that game 3-0. We had a number of opportunities on the counter-attack where we won the ball higher up the pitch but the final ball let us down.”

As well as popping up in the opposition box with the two goals, the returning Egan and skipper Dean were part of a resolute Bees backline that had to withstand wave upon wave of late Wednesday pressure. Despite Forestieri eventually breaching the defenses in injury time, Dean was pleased with the defensive effort his side put in.

“I brought John Egan back today and he has come up trumps with a great header,” said Dean. “We know that he has got goals in him and Harlee Dean has added goals to his game as well. I thought they were magnificent heading the ball in both boxes. That was important as they threw everything at us in the last 15 minutes. Daniel Bentley made some great saves and there were some glaring misses as well. We saw the other side of us tonight. I think that we are a very good footballing team but the doggedness that you saw today was good as well.”

The return of Egan for Andreas Bjelland and Romaine Sawyers’ inclusion for Lasse Vibe left The Bees without a player over the age of 25 on the pitch at Hillsborough tonight. Added to that an impressive debut for 19-year-old defender Rico Henry and Dean said that the future looks very bright after tonight’s game. 

“Rico Henry is a good little player,” said Dean. “I had him at Walsall and he wasn’t overawed by playing at Hillsborough in front of 20 thousand. He showed a mature, composed performance. The plan was for him to play him for an hour tonight but he wanted to keep going. It was only when he cramped up in the last ten minutes that we needed to bring him off. We had two 19-year-old players down the right-hand side so the future is bright.”

The only downside for The Bees was a serious looking injury for Josh McEachran late on in the first-half which Dean gave an update on after the match.

“Josh has one of those medical boots on now,” said Dean. “He took a whack in the ankle and I am hoping that he is going to be ok.”

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