Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith was in no doubt that his side deserved the three points this afternoon as they beat Bristol City 1-0 at Ashton Gate. The Bees dominated from almost start to finish but had to wait until ten minutes from time to take the lead; substitute Neal Maupay firing home from 12 yards after neat build-up play from Nico Yennaris. It could have been more comfortable as Brentford continued to create chances but in the end a single goal proved enough.
Speaking to iFollow Brentford after the game, Dean said: “We were a little bit loose in the opening ten minutes and gave the ball away cheaply but once we got our passing game together we were dominant and controlled the game. We had 27 shots to their two, 17 of those inside the box, and the only thing that was missing were another two or three goals. Their goalkeeper made some fantastic saves but we were a little bit wasteful with some of our finishing. We knew they would chase the game because of the position they are in and our use of the football when we won it back was excellent. I am really pleased for Neal as he had a tough time on Friday. He always gives effort and never gives up but his touch was a little off on Friday. I decided to give him a rest today and he did what he did best, coming off the bench and scored.”
At the other end of the pitch, Daniel Bentley was a spectator for large parts of the game as Brentford took the game to their opponents. Marshalled by John Egan and Chris Mepham, The Bees back-line snuffed out City’s attacks at source, something which Dean said they had spoken about ahead of the game.
“We were on the front foot and we picked up any clearances” said Dean. “We dominated the game by doing that. Our rest defending was outstanding today. Where I thought we were poor against Sheffield United today, we were outstanding today. It was something that we spoke about during our debrief on Saturday and shows the players are very quick learners.”
Dean made six changes for this afternoon’s game, the most notable of which saw Alan Judge return to make his first start since April 2016. The Irish midfielder put in an assured performance to vindicate Dean’s faith, lasting 70 minutes on his return to the starting XI. The Bees boss admitted Alan had been itching for a start over recent weeks and was delighted with what he saw.
“I am pleased for Alan Judge” said Dean. “It’s been a long time coming and I’ve had a few raps on the door. It’s great news for him and I thought he put in an Alan Judge performance. It was great to see him back. Fitness-wise he has been good. We have a number of attacking midfielders and some of them were probably a little ahead of them in terms of their fitness. After Friday I thought it was the right time to give him a start and he came up trumps with a good performance.”
After four games without a win, this afternoon’s victory moves The Bees back to within five points of the Play-Off places. On the back of that winless run, Dean feels today’s win has breathed fresh life into the side’s promotion campaign.
“It wasn’t quite last chance saloon but it seemed like it was getting that way,” admitted Dean. “It was nice to get that win today and keep us that little bit closer. We just have to concentrate now on what will be a big game on Saturday. I’ve given the players a couple of days off; they have worked hard all season.”