Norwich City avoid a nasty Bee sting
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
If the object of the exercise was for Brentford to offer nuisance value prior to Crystal Palace's Premier League visit then the Bees fulfilled their brief at Carrow Road.
City always had too much in terms of offensive movement and midfield creation, particularly with the second half arrivals of Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome, but Brentford offered a counter-attacking thrust woven around the lively Andre Gray that commanded respect.
Alex Neil acknowledged City had contributed to Brentford's leveller, in their attempts to play out from the back, just a minute or so after Wes Hoolahan had impudently lobbed David Button – but only the over-worked visiting keeper averted a heavier friendly defeat.
Button's shot-stopping prowess frustrated the hosts until Jerome slammed an angled finish into the roof of his net from Andre Wisdom's excellent incursion and perfectly-timed pass.
Neil, however, felt Norwich were always in control.
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'I thought we caused them a lot of problems. Do I think were they better than us? No. Did I think we were better than them? Yes,' he said. 'I thought we played really well, some of our movement was excellent and it was only a bit of sloppy finishing but in the second half we got into some good areas, created plenty of chances; against a team we found difficult to play against last year, and that was one of the main reasons for taking the game. I was pleased with the performance. I thought we were the dominant side.
'The goal we conceded was just a mistake, basically. I think the ball goes to Russell (Martin). He has tried to see the pass into Youssouf (Mulumbu), who had moved in behind the player too early, and Russell tried to manoeuvre his feet to adjust and slipped over. The lad punished us heavily. It is something that we can't afford to do in the Premier League but it is good to get it out of the way in this game.'
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Mulumbu's late injury exit with a damaged right foot, which must be fully-assessed by the club's medical staff, was a source of irritation to Neil. The Scot had made it clear prior to this match he was striving to get that perfect balance in those key central areas for the Premier League tussles ahead.
'It is just trying to get the new boys, particularly in the middle of the pitch, seeing how they can work together and combine,' he said.
'What you don't want really, for me, is two players who do exactly the same job. It is important we have good diversity in the middle of the park and the lads who do play in there are there for a specific reason.
'It is making sure you don't have two doing the same role. Youssouf is a good player, with a lot of Premier League experience and I played him in a slightly unfamiliar role in this game, with a lot of personnel changes. I thought he acquitted himself well and the more games he plays for us the better he will be.'
Mulumbu's injury was a rare blight on a pre-season Neil felt had equipped his squad for the huge challenge.
'I think it has been a great pre-season,' he said. 'I think the players are fit, they have done a lot of hard work, in the main we have minimised injuries, and we have been in good form as well so we take a lot of confidence into the Premier League.
'When you factor in the end of last season there is no reason why there shouldn't be a lot of positives around us.'