Character and brilliance fuelling Bees' promotion flight path, says Frank
Character and a slice of brilliance were the key ingredients to Brentford’s battling 2-1 victory over a stubborn Stoke City, according to Thomas Frank.
The Bees were far from their best against the Potters at the Brentford Community Stadium, but second half goals from Vitaly Janelt and Ivan Toney eventually cancelled out a first minute opener from Jacob Brown.
Frank’s men were flat throughout the opening period, but ultimately recovered to gain all three points to help maintain second place behind Norwich City in the Championship, ahead of Wednesday's showdown between the pace-setters.
It was the second successive home win for Brentford after a sequence of three defeats, drawing concerns about their staying power in relation to potential automatic promotion this season.
However, Bees head coach Frank feels the mentality of his squad was paramount to scraping out the triumph over Michael O’Neill’s hard-working side, who sit tenth.
“Sometimes it needs a bit of brilliance and what a screamer from Vitaly,” admitted Frank. “I thought it was a matter of time before we scored the winner, we had many dangerous situations.
“Again the team showed all unbelievable character – the mentality to come back. Getting behind 1-0 after 26 seconds and then coming back against a team like Stoke, for me one of the better teams in this division.
“People have said about Brentford they will walk easily into the Premier but we all know how difficult it is in this league. When we lost to Stoke last time they had a bit of a spell, they were fifth, they have some good players and a good manager.”
While German midfielder Janelt scored a terrific goal from outside the penalty area in 56 minutes, Frank noted Toney’s predatory instincts once again. The towering striker was heavily involved in skirmishes throughout against the ultra-physical Potters, before showing sufficient alertness to sweep home the winner – his 25th goal of the season - with 11 minutes remaining.
“Ivan deserves a lot of praise because of his mentality and willingness to learn and improve,” added Frank. “He scored a natural Ivan Toney goal, it dropped for him in the box and you know instantly what he will do in those situations. He has reached that level of 25 goals so I just got a better striker this season.”
O’Neill, meanwhile, was magnanimous in defeat, paying tribute to both Brentford and £10m forward Toney.
“We lost to a good team, obviously a team challenging for automatic promotion so it would have been a big result for us to come here to win,” explained the Stoke City manager. “We made it very difficult for them in the first half and looked very comfortable.
“There is not anyone better than Toney in this league, but that is the difference - a great finish, good anticipation and that’s what won them the game.”