Stoke 1-1 Brentford: Ollie Watkins denies Potters
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 11/08/18 7:47pm
Stoke's wait for an elusive home victory continues after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford in the Sky Bet Championship.
Benik Afobe put City in front in comical fashion in the first half before the Bees drew level thanks to Ollie Watkins' long-range effort in the 66th minute.
The result means the Potters have not won at the bet365 Stadium since January 20, when they recorded a 2-0 win over Huddersfield in the Premier League last season.
This was the first meeting between the two sides since the League One play-off final back in 2002.
Brentford, fresh from a thoroughly convincing 5-1 win at home to Rotherham on the opening day, started the livelier and should have gone in front inside five minutes.
Stoke's Bruno Martins Indi made a superb tackle to keep out Neal Maupay after his colleague Watkins had pinched the ball off a dithering Ryan Shawcross.
Shawcross then nodded wide for the hosts' first effort at goal after 12 minutes before Yoann Barbet's free-kick flew straight into the arms of England goalkeeper Jack Butland at the other end.
Despite Brentford dictating most of the play, it was the hosts who opened the scoring in bizarre circumstances just before the half-hour mark.
Brentford skipper Chris Mepham attempted a routine header back to Dan Bentley but the goalkeeper chose to dash out of his area and the ball bypassed him, allowing Afobe to cash in on the error and tap in unopposed from just a few yards.
It was his second goal in a Potters shirt following his penalty in the defeat at Leeds last week.
In response, the dangerous Maupay prodded wide of Butland's goal after 35 minutes before a James McClean header sailed wide before the break.
Tom Ince fashioned the first notable chance after the restart but Mepham went some way to atoning for his earlier error by deflecting his effort behind at the expense of a corner.
The visitors' Sergi Canos then saw a rifled effort deflected into the side netting on the hour mark as Brentford stepped up their pursuit of a goal.
And just minutes later it arrived. The Bees restored parity when Watkins drilled home from around 25 yards out with a shot that flew past Butland.
The equaliser energised Dean Smith's side and Watkins almost scored a second after 84 minutes but his effort was kept out superbly by Butland.
Barbet smashed a shot over the bar soon after, while the hosts were restricted to long-range attempts. Maupay then dragged an effort just wide of goal late on as spoils were eventually shared.
Gary Rowett: "My message to the players is that 'we've got to wake up'. At the moment we look too easy to create chances against. Every time we lost the ball high up the pitch it looked like Brentford could counter-attack us. You could see at the start that any sideways or back-pass made people get nervous or edgy.
"We put ourselves under pressure at times and there were a bit of nerves. Whilst I can understand that, we've got to better than that because we have players who have played at a higher level. After the goal the team had a lift. We started to move the ball around a bit better but for me, the basic decision-making and defending we just did not do. We've got a lot of work to do and need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves as a group."
Dean Smith: "Stoke have a talented squad so for us to come here and dominate is very pleasing for me. The players can take a lot of belief from this result.
"It was a mistake and it can happen. I thought we were then the better team in the second half. The character and spirit from the players was there in the second half and we eventually put that right with a great goal."