Stuffed! – 27/12/14

I promise that the title to this article will be the only seasonal Christmas reference that I make, but I am afraid that it sums up what happened to us at Griffin Park yesterday.

We were taught a massive lesson by an excellent, robust and organised Ipswich Town side that came to Griffin Park with a game plan and did a real job on us.

Expectations were certainly at fever pitch before the game as Brentford fans in a sold out Griffin Park settled down for the match fuelled with the knowledge that a victory would enable us to sit proudly at the top of the league – at least until the results came through from the later kickoffs.

But it wasn’t to be as the day turned into a damp squib.

Ipswich had done their homework and they pressed us high up the pitch and hassled us relentlessly.

We weren’t given the opportunity to play through the press and develop attacks from the back, as is the norm for us.

With the short throw to a defender generally cut off by the ever willing Murphy, Bishop and McGoldrick, David Button was forced to go to his Plan B, the measured kick to Bidwell on the left touchline near the halfway line.

Mick McCarthy recognised this threat and stationed the giant Luke Chambers, normally a centre back, in that position and he won every aerial challenge.

We were choked and stifled, found it hard to get out of our own half and, for all our possession, we rarely got into dangerous positions and were second best for most of the match.

It is all very well having a plan and whilst they often work well on paper and on the training ground, McCarthy must have been surprised that his paid such dividends within a mere nineteen seconds of the start.

We played the ball around the defence straight from the opening whistle but were forced back and instead of playing the ball to the waiting Craig, Button kicked the ball down the middle where it was easily picked off well inside our half.

Two incisive passes later, with Craig still out of position, the predatory Daryl Murphy was left with a clear sight of goal and his instant finish flew past the helpless keeper.

Our heads went down after conceding the fastest goal of the Championship season to date and Ipswich were buoyed by their early and unexpected success.

The first half saw a continuing pattern.

Lots of possession for the Bees, but little incisiveness and few chances created as we struggled to recover from the early hammer blow.

Jota had a quick poke at goal which was fumbled by the nervy Bialkowski, who also knew little about an Andre Gray header that hit him, and the striker’s instant control and clever layoff almost allowed the rampaging Jonathan Douglas a clear sight of goal before he was crowded out.

Ipswich, for their part, were happy to soak up what little pressure there was, Berra and Smith won everything in the air and snuffed out what any danger we posed.

Given our terrible start, we were nervy and hesitant at the back and Ipswich threatened carnage every time they came forward.

We were cut open twice more soon after the goal.

Jay Tabb should have marked his return to Griffin Park with a goal but shot wastefully over with the goal gaping and Murphy turned Craig far too easily before the prehensile Button shot out a long arm and saved the day.

The second goal wasn’t too long in coming when a hoof forward saw the Bees caught upfield and Murphy left one-on-one with Craig.

No contest, and the striker shook Craig off far too easily and strode on to round Button and score easily for his sixteenth goal of a wonderful season.

It looked as if the defender had had his heels clipped as he lost his balance but the referee gave nothing, apart from the goal.

Worse was to come as Dean headed the ball wastefully straight to Tabb when he should have played it into touch and his low centre saw two Ipswich players eagerly competing for the right to score, and it was Anderson who put the game far beyond Brentford’s reach.

Three defensive errors had resulted in three goals, as we had been out-thought, also to a large degree, outfought, and we certainly contributed to our own downfall with so many unforced and costly errors.

At the interval a few optimists recalled that incredible recovery from a three goal deficit against MK Dons but Ipswich were a far tougher proposition and did not exhibit any signs of weakness or a soft underbelly.

They simply sat back, compact and smug, soaked up what we could throw at them and tried to pick us off on the break.

Judge, Pritchard and Jota were tireless in their efforts to get us back into the game but most of our shots were from distance, and for all our pressure and clever approach play we never really hurt Ipswich who looked as if they were going to see the game through in comfort and unscathed.

As normal, Mark Warburton’s substitutions made a real difference.

Judge, Gray and Douglas were all taken off, probably with Sunday’s match in mind, and Toral, Saunders and Proschwitz gave Brentford a fresh impetus.

Toral showed real strength and skill, he is so composed and is almost impossible to knock off the ball. What a prospect he is  and he will have so much to contribute in the second half of the season.

Jota weaved his magic, mesmerising defenders as he came inside from the left, and it was his slick pass to Toral that saw the ball laid off to Sam Sauncers whose deflected shot put us back into the match.

Game on with ten minutes to go?

Maybe, but we self-destructed and demonstrated our soft centre yet again within two minutes when we failed to clear a corner properly.

Odubajo and Proschwitz were both guilty of half-hearted and tentative tackles and former Brentford loanee, Tommy Smith was unforgivably allowed the time and space in a packed penalty area to turn inside and curl a delicate and impudent finish into the top corner and finally end the match as a contest.

That was the killer blow and the one that annoyed me the most as it denied us the chance, slim though it was, of piling pressure on our visitors for the last few minutes.

As it was, we scored a second and totally irrelevant goal just on the whistle when Jota made the space for Bidwell to cross low for Proschwitz to comically mishit a close range effort which was poked in by the effervescent Sam Saunders.

Ipswich returned to East Anglia with three thoroughly deserved points and the Bees were left with much to ponder over.

We need to keep things into context as we are remain on an incredible run of seven wins in nine games, but there are still key lessons to be learned from yesterday’s defeat.

We will and must not change our style but the key to continued success as opponents become more aware of our threat, is to be more careful with the ball in our own half of the field and minimise the costly mistakes when possession is handed to our opponents in dangerous positions.

Our central defence has been creaking lately and both Dean and Craig have been guilty of unforced errors and of being knocked off the ball too easily.

Clubs now realise that we can be bullied and Daryl Murphy yesterday joined the ever-growing list of strikers such as Kenwyne Jones, Grant Holt, Rudy Gestede and Cameron Jerome who have been far too strong and powerful for our defence to handle.

There is no shame attached to this as we are talking about experienced, and in many cases, international class players who have far more top level experience than our two defenders, who were both playing in the third tier last season.

Maybe we will see a couple of changes in personnel tomorrow at Wolves with Tarkowski returning to the fold and perhaps Toral starting again.

We certainly do not need major surgery, but will simply continue the process of natural evolution as we slowly but surely strengthen the squad in all areas.

That is perhaps for January and I will return to this subject in a couple of days when I review the first half of what has been a momentous and wonderful season.

Let’s just try and keep things in context.

There is no need to panic.

Yesterday we had a bad day at the office at a time when we could least afford it, and were taught a harsh lesson by an experienced and well-drilled team who were fully prepared for what we had to throw at them and took full advantage of our shortcomings.

We simply need to learn from our mistakes, try not to repeat them and move onwards and upwards.

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6 thoughts on “Stuffed! – 27/12/14

  1. Bad day at the office indeed. We were bound to get a beating at some point this season however yesterday we allowed ipswich that pleasure but I left griffin park smiling as we can look back and say how many established championship and former premiership teams have beaten us like that. We should take pride in our team that for me only mick mc’carthy had truly done his homework . The second half of this remarkable season will now be a testing one but we will I believe hold are own and finish the season with our heads held high. To lose 4-2 and walk away with a smile can’t be bad eh.

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  2. It was certainly a men against boys in the first 30 minutes. Tony Craig seemed to be particularly affected and will need some tlc to get his confidence back up high.

    Agree it is not time to panic. Plan A has by and large worked and until there is more compelling evidence of a need to change than one game we should focus as MW says doing Plan A better. What does doing Plan A better mean though when a team like Ipswich worked out our plan and effectively stopped us playing. If they can do that then clearly others will as well. I am sure Mark and David Weir will innovate accordingly.

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  3. Dont think any panic changes are a good thing but amount of goals conceded when we do have a bad day is a worry. We need to work hard for those 10-12 points we need to ensure survival. One big thing yday was the needless moronic kick off time on a day football wasn’t needed. Today at 1500 is the day for this game with tmrw being later in season or New Years day. Bad planning which ruined things. Thank you for a great summary.

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