As most of you know I am away at the moment being pampered and utterly spoiled by my wife as we celebrate my forthcoming birthday in the Maldives. Over the last few wonderful days I have taken the advice of more sensible people than me and done my utmost to switch off and I have paid very little attention to what is going on outside our little island.
Saturday afternoon, or mid-evening, given the six hour time difference, was a rare exception, and after an early dinner I came back to the room, switched on Star Sports and was regaled with live coverage of the QPR versus Spurs match and took massive delight in watching our local rivals subside to yet another damaging home defeat. Wouldn’t it be quite amazing if we manage to avoid playing them next season for the best of all possible reasons – our promotion and their relegation? Stranger things have happened.
Simultaneously I started fiddling desperately with my iPad with no real expectation of success, and to my surprise and pleasure I was soon graced with the dulcet tones of Mark Burridge ably assisted by Scott Barron and was able to listen to Beesplayer’s excellent coverage of the Ipswich match. It is sheer torture having to rely on someone else describing the action and you feel totally helpless as you wait for confirmation of what has actually happened. After ninety-six minutes of torment we finally emerged with a potentially crucial point which I celebrated long into the night along with Mark Warburton’s selection as London Manager of the Year and Clayton Donaldson’s unexpected but very welcome late, late show at Derby.
I am totally unqualified to provide a first hand report of the happenings at Portman Road so I am really grateful to fellow Bees fan Stephen Burke who has provided all of you with an excellent match report. Thank you Stephen for taking the time and trouble to do so and for getting me off the hook!
It wasn’t the greatest game of football played by Brentford this season, but the one-one draw at Ipswich was one of the most compelling and tense Bees matches I have seen. And it was Brentford’s first draw since October (surely a club record?), and only the fifth this season. After Ipswich’s comfortable win at Griffin Park on Boxing Day, I was nervous before the game. And the nerves got greater in the first twenty minutes. Ipswich were all over us, pressing high up the pitch, denying us space. Button had no one to pass out to and we resorted to the head tennis that is Ipswich’s forte.
It was no surprise that Ipswich took the lead after nine minutes, inevitably through Murphy, albeit a soft goal following a corner when Moore was out jumped and the ball fell kindly to the predatory striker. We just couldn’t get our normal passing game going and Ipswich chased and harried us all over the pitch which was poor and bobbly. Gradually we got into the game and one of our better moves led to the equalising goal with Douglas heading in after twenty five minutes following good work by Gray and Dallas. Gray and Judge also both came close to giving us the lead before the interval.
Again we were very slow off the mark at the start of the second half and Murphy amazingly missed the sitter of the season when it was surely easier to score than miss. He was also denied when clean through but Button made one of a series of great saves. The Bees got stronger and started to win the second ball which we had failed to do early on. Toumani, Douglas and Pritchard began to run the game although Judge naturally looked rusty after his long lay-off and was replaced after the hour.
Credit must go to Tarkowski who will be feeling it on Monday morning as Murphy and Sears (and then Wood) were niggly, tough opponents who really made him work. Moore, however, was out of his depth and struggled throughout. Moses too found it particularly difficult dealing with the Ipswich challenge down the left from Parr and Mings.
None of our substitutions changed the game. Jota struggled to get into the game when he came on for Judge while Gray had worked his socks off with little reward before giving way to Long. Dean however did well replacing Moore for the last twenty minutes as we finally tightened up at the back.
The Bees held on and a draw will have been welcomed by both teams, particularly given the results elsewhere. At the end of the game both sets of fans were left breathless as they headed home.
Two very different style of teams had in effect cancelled each other out. Ipswich’s long ball in the air game forced Brentford to adopt a similar approach at times, much unlike our normal patient passing game. Ipswich just didn’t give us the time to play, on occasions supported by a referee who let them foul away with apparent impunity. But we stood up to them and all credit to the Bees for earning the point in a real game of Championship football.
It was also great to see Jay Tabb (‘he’s a Brentford fan’, went the chant) again and he was central to a lot of Ipswich’s more creative play. He returned the respect, acknowledging the Bees fans and not milking a couple of hard challenges on him. So ten matches left and with five points covering the top seven teams, it’s still anyone’s promotion.