Tal­is­manic mid­fielder is su­per sub again

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT -

NICO Yen­naris can con­sider him­self for­tu­nate Dean Smith is not the type of man­ager to avoid walk­ing un­der lad­ders or keep­ing an eye out for black cats.

Yen­naris came off the bench to hit a stun­ning third goal from 25 yards out to clinch Brent­ford a 3-1 win over Birm­ing­ham City yes­ter­day.

And Bees boss Smith re­vealed af­ter the game that a more su­per­sti­tious man­ager would be plonk­ing the mid­fielder on the bench more of­ten.

“Nico said to me when he comes off the bench he nor­mally scores or gets an as­sist, so I said it’s a good job I’m not su­per­sti­tious as you’d be on the bench a lot more!” said Smith.

“I thought it was a great cameo for him. Josh [McEachran] did re­ally well, but when he tired I was able to put Nico on to in­ject more en­ergy.”

Yen­naris, a vir­tual ever-present in the mid­dle of the park this sea­son, was only on the bench to pro­tect his long-stand­ing calf prob­lem from the rigours of two games in three days.

Smith said: “To play two games in quick suc­ces­sion would have been tough on him, so I al­ways had it in mind that I was go­ing to change it.

“We knew two games in three days would be tough for him and de­cided to give him a rest, know­ing he strug­gles to re­cover with his calf, and the re­cov­ery is so im­por­tant.”

By the time Yen­naris came on to wrap things up, the Bees had al­ready turned a half-time deficit on its head by play­ing with a tempo so badly miss­ing against Nor­wich on New Year’s Eve.

By press­ing high to coun­ter­act Brum boss Gian­franco Zola’s pref­er­ence to pass out from the back, Smith’s troops were able to clinch a first win over the Blues in more than two decades.

He added: “We knew they would try to play out from the back so we tried to press higher, let the first pass go and press on the next one. The lads were fully be­hind the tac­tics and went out and ex­e­cuted them re­ally well.

“What pleased me more was the way we con­trolled the tempo of the game in the sec­ond half. We didn’t con­vert the penalty but we never lost be­lief in what we were do­ing. We kept try­ing to do the right things and got the re­wards.”

Pic­ture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Im­ages

YENN MAN: Brent­ford’s Nico Yen­naris

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