Valerien Ismael’s exceptional start to life at Oakwell came to an end on Tuesday night as his Barnsley team suffered a first home defeat of his tenure at the hands of Brentford.
Since taking charge, he had led Barnsley to wins on home soil against Queens Park Rangers, Watford and Nottingham Forest, without the concession of a single goal, but that successful run came to an end with Ivan Toney’s second-half goal the difference.
On the game
For much of the contest there was little in it, with few chances in an intruiging tactical battle as Barnsley adapted their approach to try and frustrate Brentford. Although they came away with no points, Ismael was generally pleased with his side’s performance.
“I’m delighted about the performance of the guys,” he said. “We fight in the end, we try to get the win, and it’s a good process for my team and for myself to see this is high-level today, and we see what we need to beat this opponent.
“To the people outside it may be boring to see a game like this, but for both coaches you have to give confidence in your team to try and stay disciplined, be patient.
“We forced the opponent to play in an area where we were comfortable and that’s why it’s a good step in the right direction.”
Ismael believed the difference ultimately proved to be the superior quality of Brentford, last season’s defeated play-off finalists, and he offered high praise of Thomas Frank’s side and the challenges they posed his team.
“Since I’ve been here, this is the best opponent in possession,” he said. “We saw all the quality from this team, you can’t press high against them because they are very calm, from the keeper to the centre-backs.
“That’s why it is like a chess game. Both teams tried to enforce their philosophies and I think we did it well.”
On the penalty claim
If the result was fair on the balance of play, Ismael had reason to be unhappy with the failure of referee Darren Bond to award a penalty late in the game when Vitaly Janelt handled in the area.
“At the end we have to get the penalty, this is the most frustrating thing in this game,” said the Reds boss.
“Sometimes you have to do deal with this in football. Hopefully next time we get the decision on our side. You have to accept this decision.”
On creating chances
During Ismael’s tenure so far, Barnsley have shown signs of real promise in front of goal, but this was a more frustrating evening with Brentford limiting them to just three shots on the match, and only one on target.
“Against such an opponent you don’t get 20 chances in each game,” said an unconcerned Ismael. “You get maybe two, three or four, and you have to be there. If you score first, maybe it’s a different game.”
In contrast, Brentford did take one of their chances, with Toney glancing in the game’s only goal after losing defender Michal Helik at a corner.
Of the one lapse in a generally excellent defensive performance, Ismael said: “You have to be focused in every situation. It’s a mistake on a set piece. It’s a learning process but we have to keep our head up, (because) we are strong.”