Written by Carlo Simone (@CSimonejourno)
AFC Bournemouth manager Jonathan Woodgate is anticipating a “monster play-off game” as his side travel to Brentford tomorrow for the second leg of their promotion battle.
The Cherries hold a narrow 1-0 lead over the Bees thanks to Arnaut Danjuma’s tidy finish from a sweeping counter-attack from Monday’s encounter, but Woodgate still knows the threat Thomas Frank’s side can pose.
“It’s half time in a monster play-off game. I think Brentford are still favourites to be honest with you, they still really fancy it,” he said.
“[But] I know inside that dressing room I’ve got a really ambitious bunch who want to get to the next level and back to the next level where they’ve been previously.”
Despite Brentford having finished ten points clear of Bournemouth, and having won their previous two fixtures this season, the Dorset side put in a sterling performance on Monday to nullify their threat.
Considering the Bees were the highest scorers in the Championship this campaign with 79 strikes the single goal the Cherries over them might be tough to maintain, but Woodgate insists his side won’t be playing defensively.
He said: “The mentality is to try and win the game. We don’t want to sit back and try and soak the pressure up. That’s not us, that’s not how we play.
“We know they’re going to come out and try and win the game. I’ve heard what their manager said after the game, they believe they can win the game and maybe think we’re a bit scared, but let’s see how the game unfolds.”
Woodgate also emphasised how crucial it is for his players to not be caught up in the pressure of the occasion, and to try as best they can to treat the fixture like normal.
“We have to stay calm and have to stay focused. That’s what the players will be doing, that’s been the message from day one,” he said.
“Especially when times on the pitch it doesn’t always go to plan, but stay calm. That’s the big thing I’ll be saying to me [sic] players.”
Much has been made of Brentford’s poor record in the play-offs, having failed to be promoted from all nine of their previous attempts. However, Woodgate was sure there would be “absolutely zero” chance this would give them a psychological edge in the tie.
Speaking to Nerve Sport he said: “That won’t affect them at all. That’s gone, that’s history, it’s well in the past, that won’t affect them.
“They’ll just be concentrating on trying to win the game. They know how good they are, their manager knows how good they are and what they can produce on the day.”
In injury news captain Steve Cook is 50-50 for the game after being forced off before half-time in the first leg due to a knee injury. Ben Pearson is also a doubt with a hip injury, whilst the fixture is also too soon to see Junior Stanislas return to the side.
Bournemouth will face off against Brentford at the Brentford Community Stadium at 12.30pm on Saturday.