Dean Smith felt his side were well worth the point which Neal Maupay’s 94th minute equaliser gave them at Craven Cottage this afternoon. In a cauldron of a West London derby, Aleksandar Mitrovic stroked Fulham ahead with 20 minutes to play. However, The Bees levelled deep into injury-time as Maupay nodded home his 13th of the season to rescue, what Dean felt was a fully deserved point.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford after the game, Dean said: “I thought it was the least we deserved to be honest. We played ever so well in the first-half especially. We were aggressive and I was brave in terms of the team selection. We had some players who were playing really well but I just thought that, playing our fifth game in 16 days, the changes would help us. First-half, we had a goal wrongly ruled offside and we should have had a penalty when Stefan Johansen used his arms. The decisions changed the game. The second-half probably drifted a bit, with neither side in control. Two good footballing teams and their goal came from a smash down the middle. They pick up the second ball and then what a finish from Mitrovic; that is what you pay for from the Premier League. After that we had to put two hands up and take a few blows. Kamohelo Mokotjo helped us on the ball and we looked more of a threat. We fully deserved that goal at the end.”
The goal was Neal’s third in four games and seventh off the substitute’s bench this campaign. The striker started Tuesday night’s win over Nottingham Forest with Dean admitting it was a tough decision to leave him out this afternoon.
“I am pleased for Neal because he was disappointed not to start the game,” said Dean. “I made a decision. I thought Ollie Watkins was ever so good against Bristol City playing down the middle on his own and Neal does very well coming off the bench. He’s worked very hard for no reward over the last few games. I half joked before the game that I wanted him to come on, score the winner and stick his fingers up at me for not starting him. The players who didn’t start, and who didn’t start at Bristol City, celebrated with everybody and that shows the team spirit in the group.”
A sixth game unbeaten leaves The Bees four points outside the top six with three games remaining, starting at home to QPR next Saturday. Despite it not being a win, Neal felt the manner of today’s goal, and the way it was celebrated, will give his side momentum heading into the final games of the campaign.
“We don’t feel we have the points tally that we should have but we are still hanging on in the Play-Off race,” said Dean. “We are four points off it with three games to play but these players will fight tooth and nail to try and get in there. We will take some momentum from this. We are six games unbeaten now and have just won three games in a row. I felt we probably just shaded the game here and should have won. It certainly gives us momentum. The supporters will go home with big smiles on their faces. It was great to see them celebrating there at the end. I think that’s as much as I have celebrated a goal before. I certainly enjoyed that because I felt we deserved it.”
After Saturday’s incredible late drama, we have another London derby next weekend as we face Queens Park Rangers at Griffin Park. Tickets for our game against The R’s are available to previous ticket purchasers and selling fast so secure your place online here.