NEIL HAS X-RATED VER­DICT ON 2016

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Sam Tobin

ALEX Neil was more con­cerned for his play­ers than his own fu­ture af­ter Nor­wich spurned sev­eral chances in a goal­less draw with Brent­ford.

Cameron Jerome missed sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties, hav­ing a close-range ef­fort blocked be­fore shin­ning one straight at the keeper just be­fore the break.

The striker didn’t find his shoot­ing boots at half-time, blaz­ing a gilt­edged chance into stands on 73 min­utes be­fore a straight red for Rob­bie Brady turned the tide.

The Bees looked to press home their ad­van­tage but were de­nied by a fan­tas­tic last-ditch tackle by Ryan Ben­nett at the death.

“I would prob­a­bly de­scribe 2016 in one word: sh*t. The one thing about foot­ball, you’ve al­ways got a chance to make it bet­ter,” Neil said.

“My main worry is how it af­fects the play­ers. For me, as a man­ager, some­times you’re dead if you do and dead if you don’t.

“You’re never go­ing to please all the peo­ple all the time. What you’ve got to do is do your best. I just hope it doesn’t af­fect the play­ers.

“You can’t feel sorry for your­self, you just need to roll your sleeves up and keep go­ing.

“My over­rid­ing emo­tion is dis­ap­point­ment be­cause I thought we de­served to win.

“I thought we did more than enough to win the game.”

The first chance fell to Jerome on seven min­utes, but the striker headed Brady’s cross straight at Daniel Bent­ley.

John Egan un­leashed Maxime Colin down the right on 13 min­utes, but Sul­ley Kaikai snatched at his cut-back and John Ruddy saved com­fort­ably.

Jerome had an­other chance on 33 min­utes af­ter Brady ex­changed passes with Nel­son Oliveira and found the striker at the back post, but An­dreas Bjel­land blocked his shot at close range.

Brady found Jerome once more on 42 min­utes, but he scuffed the ball into the turf af­ter out­pac­ing Bjel­land.

Brent­ford went close on 69 min­utes, when Kaikai’s dan­ger­ous free-kick was nod­ded back across goal by Josh Egan, but Tom Field’s header bal­looned onto the roof of the net.

Nor­wich coun­tered im­me­di­ately, a neat one-two with Oliveira play­ing Jerome through, but the striker dragged his shot wide.

Jerome then made a mess of the best chance of the match on 73 min­utes. Ivo Pinto bombed down the right be­fore pulling it back to Jerome on the penalty spot, but he waste­fully fired over with the goal beg­ging.

Bent­ley pulled off a su­perb save with his legs min­utes later to deny sub­sti­tute Ja­cob Mur­phy an im­me­di­ate im­pact.

The mo­men­tum shifted on 80 min­utes when Brady saw a con­tentious straight red for a chal­lenge on Woods that was reck­less if not ma­li­cious, much to the Ir­ish­man’s dis­be­lief.

Ryan Ben­nett ap­peared to bring down Ho­gan in the box on 90 min­utes, but the de­fender just got a touch on the ball to deny him a chance and se­cure a point.

“I cer­tainly didn’t think it was a Sky clas­sic!” said Brent­ford boss Dean Smith.

“The un­for­tu­nate thing for me is I don’t think we cre­ated enough chances.

“We never did enough to win the game and the two best chances fell to them, which they didn’t take. I thought it was a pretty even game.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

MARCH­ING OR­DERS: Rob­bie Brady is sent off by ref­eree Oliver Langford

STAR MAN RYAN WOODS Brent­ford

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