Watkins earns a point for Bees at Stoke

Stoke 1 Brentford 1

Ollie Watkins’ equaliser earned Brentford a point.

Benik Afobe put Stoke City in front in comical fashion in the first half before the Bees drew level thanks to Watkins’ long-range effort in the 66th minute.

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.

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.

Brentford (4-1-4-1): Bentley; Barbet, Konsa, Mepham, Dalsgaard; McEachran (Mokotjo 55); MacLeod (sub Yennaris 67), Sawyers, Canos (Benrahma 67), Watkins; Maupay
Subs not used: Daniels, Judge, Clarke, Jeanvier