• Julian Taylor at the Brentford Community Stadium

Conte laments another Tottenham let-down as boisterous Bees prove their worth

Antonio Conte accepts that the chase for a Champions League spot remains a big test for Tottenham after they had to settle for a scoreless London derby stalemate at Brentford.

Spurs lost important ground on Arsenal in the race for fourth spot, and a possible Champions League berth next season. And with only five games remaining, it was hardly the opportune time to be conceding ground to old rivals, particularly in the wake of Arsenal’s effervescent 3-1 home win over Manchester United earlier in the day.

This, too, in the slipstream of a dismal slip up at home to Brighton last Sunday. Tottenham are now fifth, two points behind their north London arch-rivals. The Bees, meanwhile, in 11th place, are getting most accustomed to top tier football at just the opportune moment.

The Lilywhites had a stagnant look throughout at the Community Stadium, flattering to deceive, lacking speed of thought and passing against the resilient Bees, who have proved to be so resourceful all season.

Considering the lacklustre nature of their performance, and how Brentford got at them, a point is arguably more than Tottenham deserved. For Conte, it feels like two dropped rather than one gained. A north London derby date at home to Arsenal on 12 May has a more ominous ring to it from what was a relative position of strength a couple of weeks ago.

“To play this type of game is not easy,” said the Spurs boss. “The opponent played with intensity. We have to meet this new challenge but, on one hand I am happy with us defensively. But we have to create more chances to score.

“In the last two games we have struggled because we’ve found two teams (Brighton and Brentford) who are very good defensively. We are working and last week after Brighton we worked on this aspect to play against ten players behind the ball.

“When you score plenty of goals then teams begin to pay more attention to you. A draw was fair and we have to accept the result and try to continue to work and improve the situation. We have to try and find the right balance.

“With five games to go in this race, it shows how the players have improved a lot, especially when you see how they were back in November."

Conte was also pleased to see former Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen turn out for Brentford today.

'Fantastic' Eriksen

He said: “I am very happy to see him in fantastic form. I am pleased to see Christian playing football – he is showing great joy now to play.”

On the other hand, Brentford have the much-vaunted 40 points to their credit: a fine reward for what is shaping up to be a bright conclusion to their maiden Premier League campaign.

The Bees remained organised amid occasional bursts of visitors’ pressure – in almost perfect harmony to the Thomas Frank remit - and their vigilance to the combined threat of Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son was key in the eventual outcome.

They could even have grabbed what would have been a dramatic triumph when Ivan Toney crashed a header against the base of the post as Spurs reeled from a late onslaught.

Brentford head coach Frank, without important players such as Christian Norgaard, Ethan Pinnock and Kristoffer Ajer, paid tribute to his hard-working players who continue to defy the odds since coming up from the Championship.

“We should have won - we deserved to win the game,” said Frank.

“We kept their most dangerous in Son and Kane quiet and we had chances ourselves in the game. We missed key players like Ethan Pinnock and Kristoffer Ajer missing against a full strength Tottenham team fighting for the Champions League.

“Tottenham had scored goals for fun but when you prepare to stop this and it works, it’s great. Tell me how many teams hit their top level every week?"

Frank – once again in such a short time since Christian Eriksen arrived at the Community Stadium in January - enthused about his midfielder, tipped with a return to Tottenham this summer.

“His personality fits so well into our culture," he explained. "He is a massive team player but he is that humble and down to earth and his interaction with all the players is very good.

“I’d be very hopeful that he can stay at the club. I will do what I can, but it’s down to Christian. I hope he makes the right choice, but I hope it is with us.”