Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Brentford spoil Nathan Jones’s Championship debut as Potters are swept aside

Posted on 12 January 2019 by Jack Cunningham

The scene was set. Griffin Park the venue. Nathan Jones the new man in the dugout for Stoke. Brentford in decent form Stoke not so much.  

Before the game Thomas Frank had warned Jones not to lose eight out of his first ten games like he had done. 

Well he got off to the worst possible start as quickfire Bees double and a second half strike by Rico Henry condemned Jones’s side to defeat. 

First Half  

The first goal came from a corner five minutes into the game as Stoke failed to clear their lines and Benik Afobe’s clearance hit Ryan Shawcross and flew past the helpless Jack Butland. 

Brentford nearly added a second just a couple of minutes later, as Neal Maupay found space in the box and whipped a shot towards goal which Butland tipped around his post.  

The Bees were swarming over Stoke and Griffin Park was buzzing, as The Bees were relentless in their pressing and harrying of the Potters.  

Sure, enough they doubled their lead inside 20 minutes as they carved Stoke apart like a knife through butter down the right-hand side.  

A lovely flowing move involving Henrik Dalsgaard and Romaine Sawyers saw the latter pick out Said Benrahma in the box and he swept his shot beyond Butland.  

Frank had asked for more goals from the winger and he certainly delivered. Stoke though found themselves back in it out of nothing as Brentford lost the ball deep in their own half, Tom Ince fed Afobe he took a touch and unleashed a thunderous effort which rattled into the top corner and gave Jones his first goal as Stoke manager and his side a route into the game.

This goal opened the match up as it beautifully flowed from end-to-end as Brentford and Stoke took turns in attacking one another.  

Brentford carved out a wonderful chance on the half-hour mark as Henry and Benrahma combined beautifully to find Kamohelo Mokotjo on the edge of the area, his shot was blocked but fell to Maupay.

Certain to score but Ashley Williams produced an outstanding challenge to stop him before he could extend Brentford’s lead.  

The combination play from Brentford was excellent in the first half and caused Stoke all sorts of problems with Shawcross and Williams unable to deal with the swift interplay from Brentford’s front three.  

Second Half  

Brentford flew out of the traps and added a third ten minutes into the second half as the excellent Henry was found by Sawyers, he drove at the Stoke defence who parted like the Red Sea.  

He got to the edge of the box and drilled a shot with his weaker right foot into the near corner.  

His first goal since his long injury lay-off and once more Griffin Park was bouncing as they went in the hunt of more goals and just a few minutes later, Brentford were in again but just as Oliver Watkins was about to pull the trigger, Erik Pieters pinched the ball off his toe to prevent any further damage.  

The Brentford fans were in fine spirits as each successful pass was greeted with “ole ole.” Ten minutes later and Maupay should have had his customary goal but after he was picked out excellently in the box by Watkins, he could only turn the ball over the bar when the net really should have bulged.  

Stoke brought on everyone’s favourite pantomime villain in James McLean to salvage something from the match.  

To be expected every touch he had was roundly booed by the Griffin Park faithful.  

Brentford though were playing champagne football and Sawyers summed this up, as he flicked the ball over two Stoke midfielders to great cheers from the crowd.

With around 15 minutes to go Watkins cracked a stunning effort off the bar as Brentford pushed for that fourth goal.  

Stoke brought the big man on in Peter Crouch but they failed to produce any more chances and Brentford held on to record a well-deserved win.  

Brentford were excellent and the manager deserves great credit changing the system in recent weeks and they are certainly reaping the rewards from the change to 3-4-3. The front three were a menace all afternoon.  

Stoke on the other hand possess a squad of players who have played in the Premier League but severely lack pace at the back and in truth they created nothing going forwards either. Jones on this evidence certainly has some work to do.  

Man of the Match  

Romaine Sawyers  

Sawyers was absolutely outstanding all match, as he recorded two assists and dominated the midfield battle. He was also silky smooth all game and often glided past players as if they weren’t there. A truly wonderful midfield performance from the Brentford man.   

(3-4-3): Daniel Bentley, Ezri Konsa, Julian Jeanvier, Yoann Barbet, Rico Henry, Henrik Dalsgaard, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Romaine Sawyers, Oliver Watkins, Neal Maupay, Said Benrahma  

Subs: Luke Daniels, Moses Odubajo, Chris Mepham, Sergi Canos, Josh McEachran, Josh Dasilva, Chiedozie Ogbene  

(4-3-3): Jack Butland, Erik Pieters, Ashley Williams, Ryan Shawcross, Thomas Edwards, Joe Allen, Ryan Woods, Sam Clucas, Tom Ince, Benik Afobe, Saido Berahino  

Subs: Adam Federici, Moritz Bauer, Peter Etebo, James McLean, Peter Crouch, Tyrese Cambpell, Harry Souttar