Daniel Bentley admits that there is only one contender when it comes to the best moment from his impressive debut season at Griffin Park – his crucial penalty save at Craven Cottage against Fulham.
With the scores level at 1-1 on the brink of half-time, The Bees’ stopper leapt to his left to repel the effort from Tom Cairney and then bravely smother the rebound much to the delight of thousands of visiting fans behind the goal. Speaking to iFollow after the conclusion of the season, Daniel said that there were a few memories that stuck out for him over the season, but none meant more than that save at Craven Cottage.
“The Fulham penalty save will live with me forever because of the number of fans that we had behind the goal and because it was a fairly crucial moment in the game,” said Daniel. “It is something that will always stick with me. It was about time that I saved a penalty as well. I came with all this hype in pre-season and I only saved two. It was a great moment. I remember the two games against Sheffield Wednesday because for some reason I like playing against Sheffield Wednesday. There were plenty of saves and moments that stood out for me, even if they were moments that I wasn’t involved in like the third goal at home to Brighton and Hove Albion when we thought that we had nicked a 3-2.”
Daniel’s performance at Craven Cottage capped off an impressive season for the 23-year-old after his move from Southend United last summer. The stopper put in a number of outstanding performances as The Bees kept their most second tier clean sheets since 1953. Even though he missed out on his personal target, Daniel was pleased with how the season went and thinks a good platform has been laid.
“I wasn’t pleased with 13 clean sheets because it was one short of the target of 14,” said Daniel. “After the first 15 games we had kept seven so we were well on course. However, an indifferent period around Christmas led to us conceding a few too many goals. In terms of 13 clean sheets I am happy with that number and it is a good total. If you have offered me 13 clean sheets at the start of the season, then I would have taken that. I want to build on that. I think we are capable of getting to 15 plus and if we can do that, and not concede as many on the whole, then we can really challenge higher up the division. The gaffer has said this year that there are a lot of people who are new to the division, and I am one of them, but ultimately I back myself to play at this level. All the players that we brought in last year have shown they can do it at this level.”
Daniel came into a tight-knit goalkeeping unit at Griffin Park alongside Jack Bonham and Simon Royce. The former Southend United man feels that there is a really good working relationship amongst the goalkeeping staff at Jersey Road and that is helping to drive everybody on.
“Jack and I get on really well: we room together on away games,” said Daniel. “We stick together as the goalkeeping unit when the other lads are giving us a bit of stick. We are always encouraging each other in training. Simon Royce is an echo of all of that really, he is on us, pushing us, as he wants the healthy competition for places. At the same time, he is part of the union as well so he backs us and supports us as ultimately he is our coach so he is trying to help us get better every single day.”