PHIL Parkinson chose his words carefully after the final whistle at Brentford, refusing to put the boot in despite knowing deep down his team had missed an opportunity to edge away from the relegation pack.

Wanderers showed they have improved since being out-classed by Brentford on their own turf back in September but the net result was precisely the same. Starved of possession and chances, the Whites failed to take advantage of a Bees side which never quite hit the same heights they had at the Macron and their miserable record of having never kept a clean sheet in the league at Griffin Park continues.

Plenty of perspiration was on show once again but the inspiration was lacking. And sadly, that is an expensive commodity in the January window.

“Every time we get beat there is disappointment but we can’t get too down,” Parkinson said, in calm deliberate tones after the final whistle. “There was a lot of effort out there and good things we can take away from the game.

“I can’t fault the application of the lads. There’s a manner you can lose.”

The Wanderers boss could be forgiven for having other things on his mind right now, in the midst of the most important transfer window of his tenure.

This performance showed exactly why Parkinson must follow through on a pledge to keep hold of star striker Gary Madine – a player who has become so crucial to the way his side plays, it is difficult to imagine how he could be replaced at short notice.

Having gone a goal down just before half time through ex-PSV winger Florian Jozefzoon, the Wanderers boss needed to find a different way into the game. The game plan to that point had been to absorb and hit on the break – something they did quite effectively in the early stages through Sammy Ameobi, Fil Morais and debutant Harry Charsley.

As time ticked by Parkinson attempted to change formation, Will Buckley and Adam Fondre making a decent impact from the bench, but the reality is that the Whites struggle when asked to play expansive football, and especially against a side whose philosophy has been a few years and tens of millions in the making.

Brentford’s midfield dominance for the final hour displayed exactly why Parkinson so desperately needs his two senior men, Darren Pratley and Karl Henry, back fit and firing. Josh Vela looked uncomfortable playing in a deeper role while Derik Osede’s decent start was checked once the game opened up in the second half.

Added to that the fact Josh Cullen and Reece Burke were sat on West Ham’s sub’s bench, their return on loan now being cast into serious doubt, and you can see why the Bolton chief has got his work cut out ensuring his squad emerges from January stronger than it went in.

“The last away win we had Cullen, Pratley and Henry in there and we’ve had to completely change things,” Parkinson said of his new-look midfield. “I think they fatigued a little bit but they did well. For Derik when we are pressing the ball with 20-25 minutes to go it is a big ask for someone who is used to playing in that holding position.

“There were some sloppy passes we gave away in that second period, ball we gave away, we know we can do better than that. But all in all, with the make-up of the team, I thought we did okay.”

Wanderers have seldom let their manager down for attitude since returning to the Championship and, again, they made friends in West London for their indomitable spirit, reflected in an excellent travelling support of 1,008 who were loud throughout.

The start had been encouraging. Charsley linked up well with Madine, his running style and shock of blond hair conjuring images of Stuart Holden in his pomp.

But as the half wore on Brentford gradually managed to assume control of tempo and possession, leaving the Whites defending their penalty box in a stubborn manner we have seen so often on their travels this season.

Mark Beevers and David Wheater were excellent in that sense and had Wanderers walked back down the tunnel with a goalless scoreline, Parkinson could have had no complaints. How sad, then, that their only defensive blunder of the half – a poor header from the otherwise impeccable Robinson – allowed Jozefzoon to open the scoring with a rasping angled drive.

Wanderers’ best chance to get back into the game came when Chris Mepham made a mess of clearing Robinson’s low cross and the ball dropped invitingly for Madine. Just as the headlines were writing themselves, Brentford keeper Bentley made a sprawling save at the striker’s feet.

Once things opened up, Ryan Woods and Co ran amok. Nico Yennaris hit the post and Ben Alnwick made one fine save from Lasse Vibe after the break before sub Neal Maupay eventually killed the game off with a back-heeled second.

Brentford, chasing their best run of home form since 1951, will feel they were worth the extra goal despite not being at their best.

Buckley, Le Fondre and Aaron Wilbraham’s introduction had given them something to think about but the clear-cut opportunities were only being created at one end of the field. And when Sergios Canos mis-hit a shot with 10 minutes to go, Maupay was there to produce a cheeky finish.