Steve McClaren insists Brentford were the better side in 1-1 draw with Derby
Last Updated: 11/04/15 4:36pm
Derby County head coach Steve McClaren admitted his team pulled off a great escape after Darren Bent's last-gasp goal kept them in the Sky Bet Championship top six and denied Brentford a deserved victory.
Bent poached his 10th goal for the Rams deep in stoppage time to cancel out a brilliant first-half strike from Alex Pritchard, but the 1-1 draw virtually ends Derby's automatic promotion hopes.
Brentford took the lead in the 28th minute with a goal of quality that started deep in their half and involved three quick passes before Pritchard slipped away from two Derby players and curled a shot past Lee Grant from the edge of the area.
The Bees controlled the second half and should have wrapped the game up but wasted chances that came back to haunt them in stoppage time.
Andre Gray fired wide from eight yards before Jota wriggled clear near the right byline to set up Jonathan Douglas but his shot was cleared off the line by Craig Forsyth.
Gray had another chance to finish the game in the 73rd minute when Stuart Dallas crossed to the back post but he headed over and Derby made them pay in the second minute of added time when Bent turned in Jeff Hendrick's scuffed shot.
"I would be very disappointed if I was Brentford going home with just a point," McClaren admitted. "They were better than us, they passed the ball better than us, they were more fluid than us.
"But we stayed in the game and got in some vital blocks and tackles and showed enough character to do that. We probably made more mistakes in one game than we have in all the previous home games and we know that.
"Today was important to win, important not to lose and we've done that. There are four games to go and we have to be better than that but at the present moment we are scrapping and fighting for our lives and that's what the players did.
"They fought and stayed in the game and got a bit of luck and anybody whose watched us all season will say 'about time'. We got out of jail, we got a big point and we've got four opportunities to get in the play-offs."
Brentford boss Mark Warburton was frustrated that his side were unable to come away from the iPro Stadium with all three points after dominating for large spells of the game.
"There have been heated words said in the dressing room but that shows you how far we've come to come to Derby and only get one point and be disappointed," he said.
"We've got where we are by playing the game our way and we should have been two or three up. We dealt with their threat, we played good football and they had to change their formation. We kept our width and played well and it's a real frustration.
"It was a professional showing from the players and they are winners. They have been brave, they took responsibility, they were quick to deal with the football. I am very proud of them and I hope the fans are proud of them but the overriding frustration is that we didn't get the win."