Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith felt missed chances cost his side dear as The Bees were on the end of an Emirates FA Cup shock at Griffin Park this afternoon.
Visiting goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons was a busy man all afternoon denying Chris Mepham, Florian Jozefzoon, Neal Maupay, and Ollie Watkins while Watkins and debutant Emiliano Marcondes both saw efforts rebound off the post in the second-half. Those defensive heroics were rewarded with 25 minutes to play as Jon Stead wonderfully curled home from 25 yards to send The Magpies through to Round Four.
“It was probably not what we deserved,” admitted Dean to iFollow Brentford after the game. “I thought the team we picked played well enough in patches but lacked the quality in the final third which is what cost us. We had enough chances to win the game but didn’t take them. Jon Stead then scores a great goal to win it for Notts County. It was a strong enough team, the performance showed that. I thought we had the lion’s share of possession and bossed the game for large periods. I certainly didn’t think we deserved to lose. However fair play to Notts County, they came here, worked their socks off for the manager, and go through. Ultimately, we have gone out of the cup and it is very disappointing.”
The Bees made eight changes for this afternoon’s encounter at Griffin Park with Josh Clarke and Lewis Macleod both returning to the starting line-up after injury while there was a debut for new signing Emiliano Marcondes. The second-half also saw a first appearance in 637 days for Alan Judge following his serious leg injury. For Dean, seeing those players back on the pitch was the big positive to take from this afternoon’s game.
“The two full-backs looked like they needed the minutes,” said Dean. “Josh Clarke has been out for a few weeks. I have had to rest a few of the players. Andreas Bjelland hasn’t trained through the games over Christmas because of the toll it has taken. The positives were certainly seeing Alan Judge come onto the pitch. That certainly wasn’t sentimental as I thought that he livened us up. I thought he would get into little pockets and open things up, which he did. I thought Lewis Macleod did well. It was a good performance from him on his first start for a long time. He was unlucky not to get onto the end of a great ball from Josh McEachran in the first-half.”
This afternoon’s game was The Bees fifth in 15 days as the hectic Christmas period finally came to an end. With a number of his squad playing every minute of league football over the past two weeks, Dean felt it was the right decision to freshen his team up.
“There were some players out there who, if I am being honest, needed that game but that certainly didn’t diminish the performance,” said Dean. “It is always a tough balancing act. You have an FA Cup game straight after a festive period of four games in a short period of time. As I said before some of the lads were spent. The performance wasn’t great but we were the better team. Whether I picked another team or not that team was good enough to win the game today. We will dust ourselves down and get ready for Bolton now.”