Sheffield Wednesday manager Garry Monk admitted his side were second-best in defeat to Brentford but praised his players for having more fight than last season.
Ivan Toney’s first-half double earned last year’s Championship play-off finalists a 2-1 win, as the Owls were comfortably outpaced in the opening 45 minutes despite Callum Paterson’s first goal for the club.
A double change in midfield brought an improved second half but they couldn’t engineer a leveller as they suffered a second defeat of the campaign.
The last time the sides met, in the final game before lockdown in March, the Bees ran away for a 5-0 win, and Monk believes something similar might have happened again if not for the new attitude in his revamped squad.
Looking back over the game, Monk reflected: “We were a just a yard or two off them and when you’re playing against a good side, like Brentford are, that can prove costly. The goals I’m disappointed with; they’re goals we could have avoided.
“I think in the first half especially we were below the performances levels we have been at. In the second half we were much better at getting up to them and that intensity was at the level we wanted.
“We had that intensity and were stepping up to them but we needed that bit of composure, less franticness, as that was just for a want of trying to get back into the game.
“I don’t like talking about last season, but there were times when in that type of situation there would have been a feeling of giving up. I don’t think this team has got that in them this season. You can see clearly they came out to fight and stepped up in that second half.”
Wednesday played a positive attacking line-up with Paterson behind a front pair of Jack Marriott, making his first start on loan from Derby County, and Josh Windass, and Monk explained their approach to the match.
“The plan was, looking at Brentford, if we’d just sat off we’d have not seen the ball all night,” he said. “As a manager you want to try and recognise that and give them team a clear game plan to try and get after them.
“That’s what I wanted to do tonight and we were doing it in the first half, but we were just that yard or two short. You could see in the second half we did do it with the right intensity. That’s why I say it’s the fine margins that make all the difference.”
Luongo adds to injury list
Wednesday weren’t helped by the absence of midfielder Massimo Luongo, who has made a huge defensive contribution so far this season including filling in at centre-back.
Monk says that the Australian picked up an injury in their win over Birmingham City last weekend, making him just the latest in a long line of players in the treatment room.
“Massimo did a tackle at Birmingham and hyperextended his knee,” he revealed. “We’ve had bad luck with injuries, and they’ve all come in a game apart from Dom (Iorfa).
“Hopefully Massimo won’t be too long with that but it’s still quite swollen, so we’ll just have to wait for the swelling to go down. Talking to the medical department, they don’t think it’s too serious.”
Liam Palmer returned on the bench following a back problem but the Owls are still without fellow defenders Iorfa (hamstring), Tom Lees (groin) and Liam Shaw (ankle), as well long-term casualty Chey Dunkley (double leg break). Monk is hopeful of having some of those, plus attacking midfielder Izzy Brown (knee), back shortly.
“Dom and Tom are progressing really well,” he said. “Palms is back involved and has trained the last couple of days. We’re hopeful that Dom, Tom and Izzy, if it’s not the weekend, then they should be training by the start of next week.”