City fall to defeat in North London in new manager's first game in charge...
NATHAN JONES’ opening game in the Stoke City managerial hot-seat ended in defeat on Saturday afternoon as Brentford maintained their recent upturn in fortunes with a clinical display at Griffin Park.
The former Luton Town boss took to the technical area for the first time since his appointment on Wednesday afternoon, but was handed no honeymoon period as his new charges were put to the sword by a fast and furious Bees side in North London.
Thomas Frank’s men were full or verge and vigour throughout the contest, and in truth, the visitors, who lined-up in a Jones’ favoured 4-4-2 diamond formation, struggled to contain them from the offset.
In fact, only seven minutes had elapsed by the time that Brentford had forayed into the lead - albeit in the most fortuitous fashion, with the ball looping into the back of the net after Benik Afobe’s attempted clearance had slammed into the face of Ryan Shawcross.
England international Jack Butland had twice denied the Londoners a second goal, making superb saves to deny Ollie Watkins and Neal Maupay, before the lead was eventually doubled just after the quarter hour mark.
This time it was the lively Said Benrahama doing the damage with a sublime curling effort from 15-yards, following a slick interchange down the left which featured both Watkins and the league’s leading marksman Maupay.
Jones suggested in his official unveiling earlier in the week that there would in fact be a need for patience as his players acclimatised themselves to the philosophy and style of football that he will be looking to implement at the Club.
But, whilst his players were undoubtedly second best on the day, there were one or two offerings of what could be in store with the Potters fans with the interchanging midfield four looking to free the two strikers Afobe and Saido Berahino at every given opportunity.
Welsh international Joe Allen wasted a glorious opportunity of freeing Afobe having overhit his attempted pass to the DR Congo international, but thankfully Tom Ince was far more potent with his ball through to the striker which helped halve the deficit before the break.
The former Liverpool man picked up a loose ball in midfield, surged forward and released Afobe, who produced an exhilarating strike from 20-yards, rifling into the top right-hand corner of the net and offering the visitors a reprieve.
Sadly, a reprieve was all it was to be, as the hosts continued to hassle and harry all over the field, forging numerous opportunities to have added to their tally, had it not been for some wayward finishing, a couple of smart Butland saves and the help of the woodwork.
Jones did his utmost to forge an upturn in his side’s fortunes, reverting to a 4-3-3 formation as well as introducing Peter Etebo, James McClean and Peter Crouch during the bench during the second 45.
It was all to no avail however, as Rico Henry put the gloss on a thoroughly impressive day’s work for the home side, bursting past Ryan Shawcross and planting a firm left-foot strike into the bottom corner of the net from 25-yards.