Brentford head coach Dean Smith believes his young squad moved up to “the next level” in their hard-fought win over Nottingham Forest.
Goals from Lewis Macleod and Ollie Watkins were enough to end Forest’s unbeaten start to the season, with Matty Cash managing a consolation for Aitor Karanka’s side.
Smith was delighted with the Bees’ discipline in a game of 12 yellow cards, seven of them for the visitors.
“It was a tough game to play in because Forest posed some very different questions, but we have problem-solvers all over the pitch now,” he said.
“That side of their game shows they have moved up to the next level, and I was delighted with that because they had to show a lot of character today.”
Watkins’ winner came just minutes after being treated for a bloody nose, and Smith revealed: “I told the physio to tell him he couldn’t come off because we’d used our subs.
“Ollie was getting some treatment and asked me if he should take the plug out of his nose. I told him to keep it in and blow it out when he scored.”
And with England boss Gareth Southgate dipping into the Championship pool for players, Smith believes match-winner Watkins could be a contender for a call-up.
“I’ve got no doubt he has the potential,” he said. “He has huge ability and potential to develop even more, so you couldn’t rule it out.”
He felt Brentford deserved the win for the way they took the game to Forest, adding: “We deserved the lead at the break and could have had a few more. I’m glad their keeper took his time over the goal kicks from the first minute because it gave us the time to score.
“I thought they’d have to change things at half-time and they put two wide men on and that gave us a few more problems, but we went toe to toe with them and deserved the win.”
Forest boss Aitor Karanka was disappointed with his side’s first half-performance.
“The best way to defend against a side like Brentford is to keep the ball, and we didn’t do that,” he said.
“In the first half, they were the better side and when you’re defending for 45 minutes there are going to be chances against teams like Brentford. The second half was much better and we played in the way I like to play.
“When we equalised, we didn’t score a second and then the game opened up again and they looked stronger than us. I have had these players for two months and eight games, and today was the first defeat.
“I want us to be organised and play good football because we have good players. We saw that in the second half, but we also have to find consistency. If we do that we will be much better, for sure.
“To be realistic we have had more bad games than good games, but we have a good group of players in the changing room and the atmosphere is amazing and I’m sure that will be reflected on the pitch.”
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