Dean Smith was in no doubt that his side should have left Villa Park with the three points after this afternoon’s goalless stalemate in the West Midlands. Chances were in short supply during the first 45 minutes but Sam Johnstone made a trio of superb second-half saves to deny Josh Clarke and Ollie Watkins twice as The Bees took the game to their hosts after the interval.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford after the game, Dean said: “I feel it should have been three points. We were very good today. It was one of our top away performances. We didn’t dominate like we did against Ipswich Town but we created some big chances. If it wasn’t for Sam Johnstone we would have left with three points. We dominated the first-half. Our movement and build-up to get the two higher midfielders on the ball was good but we didn’t make Johnstone work enough. In the second-half they came into it but we created some big chances. Johnstone made a good save from Ollie Watkins and from Josh Clarke and John Egan shinned one from where he scored last season. If we take one of them we go and win the game comfortably.”
Aside from a late Daniel Bentley save from James Chester, The Bees stopper was untroubled on his visit to the second city. The shutout makes it back-to-back clean sheets with Dean pleased at how well his defence marshalled Villa’s expensive frontline.
“Today we restricted them to one chance and one shot on target,” said Dean. “I never felt he was going to score: it fell to him and Daniel Bentley made himself very big and got close to him. Apart from that I can’t remember them hurting us. Defensively we didn’t give big chances away and created big chances of our own. This is a big football club and they have some very good players. You have to be at your best to get something at Villa Park.”
The Bees lost the services of three first-team regulars to Birmingham City at the end of the summer transfer window as Jota, Maxime Colin, and Harlee Dean all departed. Despite losing those three, Dean remains convinced there’s a lot of talent and belief within the group at Griffin Park
“There is a lot of belief in our dressing room,” revealed Dean. “Before the game, I said that three players had left and there were questions about whether it decreased the squad. I ran down the squad list that we have today and we have a number of full internationals and a number of youth internationals. We have a lot of players coming to the peak of their careers. I think that we are a very strong team.”
After the game, Dean also gave an update on Sergi Canos, who limped off midway through the first-half, saying: “It's disappointing as it is the same ankle. I feel for him as he has worked really hard to get back so quickly. It will be a similar time to the last one. He did all he could to get back and he will do all he can to back again.”