Stoke fall to de­feat

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Ralph Miller

NATHAN Jones’ hopes of get­ting off to a win­ning start as Stoke boss were scup­pered as Brent­ford raced to a 3-1 win at Grif­fin Park. An own-goal from Ryan Shawcross gave the Bees the lead and Said Ben­rahma made it two on 17 min­utes. Benik Afobe pulled one back six min­utes later, but Thomas Frank’s men sealed the points when Rico Henry scored early in the sec­ond half. The de­feat leaves the Pot­ters 15th in the Cham­pi­onship, eight points off the play-offs.

“I don’t think we gave our­selves a chance to­day with the start we made,” said a philo­soph­i­cal Jones, left. “The first goal put us on the back foot and we didn’t im­pose our­selves enough de­spite pulling a goal back.

“I’m not go­ing to judge ev­ery­thing on just two days’ work with the team. We are a work in progress.”

Sh­effield United beat QPR 1-0 to move sec­ond.

NEW Stoke boss Nathan Jones in­sisted he will turn the Pot­ters into a great side – de­spite los­ing his first game in charge.

Stoke were swept aside by free-flow­ing Brent­ford, but the for­mer Luton man­ager said: “I have only been here two days and we are not go­ing to have a rev­o­lu­tion in that time.

“I am dis­ap­pointed with to­day but we are go­ing to be a great side and we will build some­thing here. I say again, we are go­ing to be great, but we weren’t to­day.

“I could have watched this from afar in the stand to see how things were done, but I am not one to shy away from chal­lenges and I wanted to be in­volved. I have no re­grets, I am dis­ap­pointed, but we will get it right.”

Jones tin­kered with sev­eral di­a­mond-based for­ma­tions dur­ing the 90 min­utes, but added: “In hind­sight you don’t know whether that is the best way but we need to learn quickly. It’s a dif­fer­ent shape and you don’t learn it in two days.”

Jones in­sisted he was not sur­prised by the flu­ency of an in­form Brent­ford side who made it six games un­beaten cour­tesy of strikes from Sain Ben­rahma, Rico Henry and a Ryan Shawcross own goal, with Benik Afobe pro­vid­ing Stoke’s re­sponse.

“We have watched Brent­ford enough to know they are a good, flu­ent side and if you don’t get things right they will hurt you,” Jones added.

Brent­ford head coach Thomas Frank hailed the “most com­plete per­for­mance” of his reign.

“It was a dom­i­nat­ing, con­trolled per­for­mance from the first sec­ond to the last,” he said. “Stoke had two shots and one was blocked. That shows that our de­ter­mi­na­tion and de­fen­sive mind­set, as well as the tac­ti­cal press, was spot on. It seemed like we could cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties when­ever we wanted.”

He was de­lighted that Ban­rahma and Henry heeded his plea for other play­ers, apart from top scorer Neal Mau­pay, to add to the score­sheet. Calami­tous de­fend­ing gifted Brent­ford the opener after seven min­utes when Afobe’s clear­ance from a drilled Ben­rahma cor­ner re­bounded off team-mate Shawcross’ head and into the net.

The Bees stretched their lead in the 17th minute when a slick six-man move ended at the feet of Ben­rahma and the winger’s low, an­gled drive flew in­side the far post.

But Stoke hit back min­utes later, a poor clear­ance find­ing Thomas Ince, who slid a su­perb ball through to Afobe, who found the top right cor­ner of the net from just in­side the box.

Brent­ford sealed the points in style in the 54th minute, left-back Henry latch­ing on to a su­perb Ro­maine Sawyers re­verse pass to glide past three Stoke chal­lenges be­fore drilling a low shot home.

Ol­lie Watkins and Mau­pay both hit the bar as Brent­ford tore into City.

Frank added: “We have play­ers who can score goals but I must ad­mit that when I saw Rico surg­ing into the box I thought ‘where is he go­ing?’, then the net bulged and I thought ‘that’s great’.”


HAV­ING A LAUGH: Brent­ford cel­e­brate Said Ben­rahma’s, left, goal against the Pot­ters


CHASE: Brent­ford’s Rico Henry, left, and Stoke’s Tom Ince bat­tle for the ball

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