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  • By Yann Tear

Bees on sound footing for battles ahead

A dominant Easter Monday victory at play-off rivals Bristol City has kept alive Brentford's outside chances of sneaking into the top six when the season ends next month.

Neal Maupay's late winner at Ashton Gate barely did justice to Dean Smith's side, who were so dominant in possession and in terms of chances created that they managed an incredible 24 shots to the hosts' two.

This was against a side who had run Man City so close over two legs in the League Cup semi-final.

The Frenchman's 11th goal of the season revived the hope that had faded a little more on Good Friday, when Chris Mepham's first professional goal was only good enough to earn a 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United.

That made it three home games in a row without a win against fellow promotion hopefuls, following a defeat to Cardiff and a draw against Middlesbrough.

As things stand, the Bees' task still looks too difficult. With six to play, they must make up five points on Middlesbrough - who currently occupy the last play-off place - and leapfrog at least five teams.

Ipswich, QPR and Hull visit Griffin Park, with the remaining away games coming at Nottingham Forest, Fulham and Barnsley.

If, as seems likely, the Bees miss out, at least they can look back on another season of being on the front foot in the Championship and it keeps them in the sort of position they will want to be in when they finally switch to a new stadium at Lionel Road in a couple of seasons.

Even when their levels have dropped during this campaign, as was the case against Sheffield United, they remain competitive and were still strong enough to collect a point - which says everything about their current status.

Brentford were indebted to David Bentley for some smart late saves to hold on to a point, with Smith admitting his side’s passing was ‘very sloppy’ and that they did not deserve a win.

Mepham’s first professional goal after 68 minutes, to cancel out a deflected opener from Blades defender Chris Basham, rounded off a great week for the Bees' centre-half, who made his Wales debut in China - having roomed with Gareth Bale during a two-game tour.

The equaliser sparked a spat between Ryan Woods and Blades keeper Jamal Blackman as the Bees midfielder attempted to retrieve the ball for a quick restart. Both were sent off.

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