SMITH FEARS THE WORST FOR BEES
BRENTFORD manager Dean Smith believes his side remain in relegation danger after suffering a seventh defeat in eight Championship outings at the hands of Blackburn Rovers.
In a drab affair, Brentford had looked favourites to find a winner when Rovers skipper Grant Hanley was sent off for a handball early in the second half.
But Shane Duffy’s excellent winner ensured Smith’s side faced a fourth successive defeat to be left just six points clear of the relegation zone.
The Bees were missing John Swift from their squad, who posted a controversial message on social media on Friday evening which he later removed.
“There’s no doubt about it, we’re in a bit of trouble. We’re on a bad run of form, and now we have to use that international break to put that right,” said Smith.
“We didn’t work the keeper enough, some of our decision making was not quite there but we wanted to be more difficult to beat having conceded so many poor goals recently.
“When you get on a run like this, players sometimes take it on themselves to make something happen and put things right because they care and want that responsibility.
“John posted on social media last night, and I didn’t think it was right to have him on the bench.
“He explained and apologised for it, and I don’t think there was any malice in it, just naivety.”
In a game lacking flow and quality, Brentford had the brighter opening as Alan McCormack fired high and wide for the first of many occasions shortly after the quarter-hour mark.
It was a sign of the times for the hosts, although Yoann Barbet’s free-kick was well dealt with by Jason Steele as Smith’s side mustered just three shots on target despite boasting 66 percent of possession.
Blackburn were equally underwhelming going forward, but enjoyed half’s best chance as Hope Akpan met Craig Conway’s cross, only for David Button to tip expertly over the crossbar.
The game needed livening up, and that came 12 minutes into the second period as Hanley saw a second yellow for a handball from Alan Judge’s cross.
Ryan Woods’ tackle set Judge away down the right, with his delivery catching the flailing arm of Hanley, earlier booked for a cynical foul.
With numerical advantage, the home crowd sensed an opportunity for just a third win in 2016, yet chances remained a premium as numerous shots ended up in the stands throughout the half.
And with Blackburn remaining increasingly difficult to break down, Duffy stole the winner with a spectacular strike. Elliott Bennett’s wide free-kick found an unmarked Tony Watt, who teed up Duffy to lash past a helpless Button to ease any relegation fears Paul Lambert may still have contained.
“I was never looking over my shoulder, I never do,” said Lambert. We’re playing really well at the moment and we should have more points that we have, but we’re playing well to win games.
“I thought we deserved it. We were always comfortable and they never really had too much of a threat, but that was an exceptional finish to win the game.
“Shane attacks the ball so well in both boxes, I’ve never seen anyone like him. He should have more goals, but he’s only 23 and still learning.
“Until you get your own stamp on a side, the big moment is in the summer, whether the club wants to go for it or not.We want to go for it, so it’s going to be a big moment for us come the summer.”
HAVE SOME OF THAT: Shane Duffy celebrates scoring the winner