Written by Frankie Rudland (@RudlandFrankie)
Bournemouth boss Jonathan Woodgate has insisted that Brentford remain the favourites for promotion ahead of their play-off run in this evening.
Thomas Frank’s side finished ten points ahead of The Cherries, once again narrowly missing out on an automatic promotion spot, which Woodgate believes adds extra pressure on the London outfit: “They’re an outstanding team and no doubt they’re the favourites.
“They’ve been on a run this season of not being beaten in twenty-one games and they’re now on another run of being unbeaten in twelve games – we know it’s going to be a really difficult game against them there’s no doubt about that.
“I’d say there is a bit of added pressure on them, they’re the favourites to go up and they deserve to be the favourites to be honest with you, they’ve had an outstanding season.”
Brentford have already bested Bournemouth twice this season, most recently securing a 1-0 victory at The Vitality despite playing the majority of the second-half with ten men after Pontus Jansson was given his marching orders for hauling down Arnaut Danjuma.
While Bryan Mbuemo was the only man to find the net on the day, The Bees mustered a whopping eighteen shots on goal as they continually bombarded Bournemouth’s back-line. However, Woodgate remained adamant that the stats didn’t reflect the opportunities that his side had to steal all 3 points.
“In the first thirty minutes the game could have been out of site really, we had a number of outstanding chances in that game,” he said.
“Ok they had some shots on target and off target but we had some incredible, incredible chances too.”
Brentford will be looking to end a seemingly cursed relationship with the playoffs that has seen them fail to gain promotion each of the 9 times that they’ve qualified.
Included in that record is last season’s extra-time defeat to Fulham, who will once again be competing in the Championship after failing to avoid the relegation trap-door that claims so many newly promoted sides.
Asked by Nerve Sport whether he believes their experience in the playoffs would have any bearing on Thomas Frank and his players, Woodgate remained open in his response.
“It can work both ways – they know that feeling when they’ve been beat in the final, they know how hard it’s been for them.
“That can fester, that can stay in the minds of players, but they are favourites to win. We know what type of team they are, they’re an exceptional team and they’re favourites to go through.”
Woodgate and co will be handed a well-timed boost by the return of fans to The Vitality this evening. It is understood that around 2,300 spectators could be in attendance for arguably the sides most crucial fixture this season.
“I can’t wait, I’ve played when it’s been absolutely rammed down here and they create an incredible atmosphere,” Woodgate added.
“We know it’s not going to be like that but we know the fans that are coming in are going to be loud, on our side and yeah I just can’t wait to have them in the stadium.
“It’s the first time for me, but the players tell me how good they are and how much they get behind them.”
In injury news, Lewis Cook remains the only long-term absentee as he continues his recovery after rupturing his ACL in March. Junior Stanislas will be forced to sit out the first-leg of the playoff clash with Brentford tonight after picking up a slight strain on his hamstring, but he may return in time for the reverse fixture.
Bournemouth take on Brentford tonight at The Vitality Stadium, kicking off at 6pm.