First Team 3 weeks ago

Pre-Season: Brentford 1-2 Watford

Watford remain unbeaten in pre-season thus far after a Henrik Dalsgaard own-goal and Andre Gray’s third strike in four friendlies pegged Brentford back from their early lead.

Dean Smith’s Championship outfit raced into a fourth-minute lead thanks to Ollie Watkins, who was quickest to react to Ben Foster’s save from a 25-yard free-kick.

Not the ideal start at Griffin Park, but credit to the Hornets, who grew into the game and were worth their lead at the break – even if they had Dalsgaard’s bizarre miskick from six yards to thank for pulling them level midway through the first-half.

Gray, against his former side, then struck home to settle affairs nine minutes before the interval and Watford were able to hold onto their lead despite some pressure from the Bees in the second-half.

On a sunny, but thankfully cooler afternoon in west London, the hosts were quickest out of the blocks and they only required four minutes to break the deadlock, Watkins converting a loose ball from six yards after Foster had parried Emiliano Marcondes’ swerving free-kick.

The Hornets came close to an equaliser with 17 minutes played, thanks in part to some persistent play down the right-hand side from Daryl Janmaat. The Dutchman rode a couple of challenges before playing across to Roberto Pereyra, whose clever flick looped onto the cross-bar and went out for a goal-kick.

Gray then saw a first-time effort fly marginally over the bar, with Bees’ keeper Daniel Bentley beaten, after Under-23 midfielder Ashley Charles’ initial shot had been blocked.

The leveller did come on 25 minutes, and it was down to some clever Pereyra play and a slice of fortune. The Argentine took a neat touch inside his marker before pulling the trigger and forcing a fine save from Bentley. Dalsgaard had the simple task of clearing, but instead the Bees’ captain sliced into his own net, much to the bemusement of his Brentford teammates.

Gray then handed the Hornets a 36th-minute lead with a good finish from the edge of the area after being alert to a poor clearance from goalkeeper Bentley.

In stark contrast to the first-half, there was a slow start to the second, with Foster’s save from a curling Said Benrahma effort just before the hour the closest either team came.

As the clock struck 60 there were wholesale Watford changes, seven in fact, as Javi Gracia opted to once again give minutes to as many players as possible.

Isaac Success – one of only three from the starting XI to remain – embarked on a mazy and unpredictable run before poking wide from just inside the area, then at the other end Lewis MacLoed fired across goal and wide from an angle as the pace picked up a gear or two.

Pereyra had the ball in the net with 72 minutes played, nodding in from close-range after some trademark strength from substitute Troy Deeney had won the ball back out wide, but the former Juventus man was ruled offside.

The assistant referee’s flag denied Watford once more as we entered the final 10 minutes, and this time it was Deeney who was penalised having broken clear and lobbed over substitute keeper Luke Daniels and into the net.

Brentford pushed for a late equaliser, but Foster’s goal was rarely troubled in the closing stages and the Golden Boys were left to reflect on a third pre-season win, with just Sampdoria to go at next Saturday’s Graham Taylor Matchday. 

HORNETS | Foster (GK); Janmaat (Navarro, 60), Kabasele (Prödl, 60), Britos (Mariappa, 60), Holebas (Masina, HT); Pereyra, Charles (Rodwell, 60), Capoue (C) (Wilmot, 60), Sema (Jakubiak, 60); Success, Gray (Deeney, 60).

Subs not used | Dahlberg (GK).

First Team 3 weeks ago

Opposition Profile: Brentford

By Danny Varsalona

With Watford set to play their fourth pre-season friendly this afternoon against Brentford, watfordfc.com takes a closer look at the Golden Boys' opponents.


FACTFILE

Name: Brentford FC

Stadium: Griffin Park

Nickname: The Bees

Head Coach: Dean Smith

Past season position: 9th (Championship)

While their current home is Griffin Park, Brentford have already broken ground on a new stadium

HONOURS

Football League Second Division: Champions 1934/35

Football League Third Division: Champions 1932/33, 1991/92

Football League Fourth Division: Champions 1962/63, 1998/99 & 2008/09

Football League 1: Runners-up 2013/14

LAST TIME OUT

After a slow start, Brentford grew into the 2017/18 Championship season and finished in ninth place, six points adrift of the play-offs.

Despite being one of the most entertaining sides in the league it took nine games for the Bees to get their first win of the season, which came against Bolton Wanderers. That became the catalyst for an eight-game undefeated streak for Dean Smith’s men.

The Bees continued their momentum into the second-half of the season, remaining in the top half of the table.  

THE COACH

Dean Smith earnt a reputation for overachieving on a small budget at Walsall

Dean Smith

Dean Smith was appointed manager of Brentford in 2015, and in the last year has become synonymous with an entertaining style of play.

The former Leyton Orient defender has had plaudits for building a youthful side on a limited budget, whilst playing attractive attacking football.

KEY PLAYERS

Neil Maupay

Neil Maupay topped Brentford’s scoring charts, as the French forward bagged 13 goals in his debut season. The 21-year-old moved to Brentford from Saint-Étienne and wasted no time in making an impact – with three goals in his first six appearances.

Maupay continued his good form throughout the season, and following Lasse Vibe’s transfer, he finished the season as the Bees' go-to striker. With four assists to his name, the pacey forward can also create, happy holding the ball up and playing his teammates in.

Ollie Watkins

Another Championship debutant makes the cut, and Ollie Watkins has been vital for the Bees. The 2016/17 EFL League Two Player of the Year showed he had all the attributes to make it in higher divisions. The strong, forward-thinking midfielder is capable of playing on either wing and in behind the forward line.

Watkins bagged 10 goals from midfield for the Bees and was a key player in keeping Dean Smith’s attacking football flowing. Capable of creating or finishing, there’s a reason Watkins is hot property, with a number of clubs interested in the talented 22-year-old.

Yoann Barbet

Dean Smith’s style of attacking football needs to have a strong base, and Yoann Barbet certainly provides that. The French defender played both left-back and centre-back over the course of the season and turned in performances of the highest quality.

The 25-year-old is assured on the ball, has a keen eye for a pass and isn’t afraid to put a foot in. The Frenchman isn’t just a threat to attackers though, he’s more than capable of giving the opposition defence a scare, scoring three goals during the 2017/18 campaign.