An Away Point Well Earned for Bees But It Should Have Been Three – Ipswich 1 Brentford 1
Brentford went to Portman Road off the back of victories against promotion-chasing Sheffield Wednesday and relegation-doomed Rotherham looking for another 3 points to move them up the table.
Always a tricky place to come to is Portman Road against a Mick McCarthy side who are always organised and – even if you don’t care for his style of football – are always very tough team to break down.
So true to plan after a bright start to the game, the Bees fell behind finding themselves one goal down after a well taken strike by Cardiff loanee Emyr Hughes from inside the area.
However, the West London side did not see that as a setback – growing into the game which eventually saw a deft chip from Romaine Sawyer brilliantly converted by Nico Yennaris just before half-time.
The second half saw the Bees dominate the game – with the best chance coming from Sergi Canos who had a great effort cleared off the line – but in the end they had to settle for a point. Romaine Sawyers, who has come in for a lot of criticism lately, worked hard and had a great game in midfield – playing some clever balls into space that totally confused the Ipswich defence .. and the Brentford players too at times – whereas Nico Yennaris is starting to show how that he is slowly but surely growing into becoming a key Championship player.
An injury to Andreas Bjelland in the second half saw Yoann Barbet slip into the central defender role for the remainder of the game. Many Bees fans – including myself – feel that Barbet has been unlucky to not have secured a place in the side this season with Bjelland being favoured over him when push comes to shove. So far, all his appearances have been out of position in the left back role which have not shone him in the best light. However, he looked cool and composed in central defence against Ipswich and with Harlee Dean returning on Tuesday against Forest, one would expect him to be taking the bench as the substitute centre back in the place of his Danish team-mate.
Reflecting on the match, it’s amazing to see how far Brentford have come in three seasons in the Championship. I remember our first visit to Portman Road three season ago. It was an adventure. And the Bees were delighted with the point gained in a 1-1 draw. This season, the Bees fans left the stadium disappointed at taking only four of six points from Ipswich this season. Their disappointment was not unfounded as the Ipswich fans on the Pride of West London Podcast (below) commented saying that they felt the Bees were well worth 3 points this match and felt fortunate not to have conceded a second goal in a second half where the Bees piled on the pressure.
Brentford Head Coach Dean Smith was pleased with the performance.
“We did the other side of the game today. We were committed and won challenges and I was pleased with that. In the second-half I thought we were the better team and the more likely to win the game. Our use of the ball was better. We recycled it and spread the play which we thought that we had to do against Ipswich with their system”
Meanwhile Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy was very positive of Brentford’s performance.
“They were very, very good. We weren’t particularly good with the ball at all. They deserved a point, they probably deserved to win it, they were the best team. Why that is I don’t know. Probably because they’re a good side. But then we’ve played a lot better in the last five games and probably deserved more points than we’ve got. And today we’ve had to scrap and fight and stick at it and if there’s a bright spot or a positive point then that’s just what we did and we got a point when eight weeks ago I would have been sat here with a face like thunder and we probably have lost that 3-1. You look for positives and that’s the case, but they were excellent today, very good.”
Football is full of ups and downs. There are some games your team should have won but didn’t. There are other games where your team steals a lucky win. More often than not, it balances itself out over the season.
Compared to losing against 3-2 to Reading a few weeks ago at The Madjeski – where we completely dominated them in the 2nd half and lost to a late Reading winner – and drawing against Brighton – where we were 2-0 up, missed a penalty and were subject to a 97th minute Brighton equaliser after dominating them for most of the match, this Ipswich draw was much easier to swallow.
Yes we dominated the opposition – especially in the 2nd half – but compared to other games this season where we were so ridiculously dominant, I felt that this game could have still gone either way – especially with Brentford always prone to the odd defensive error.
Mick McCarthy – for all the criticism he gets – is no mug.He’s knows this division inside out. And decided not to fight fire with fire by playing Brentford at their own passing game.
Instead he opted to go for our achilles heel – playing the direct ball, hoping our central defenders were unable to cope with the pressure and just grinding away at us hoping we would make a mistake.
Overall we coped well. Which is a good sign for the future. At the same time, Ipswich were not easy to break down. And if Brentford are to challenge for playoffs next season, we not only do we have to be able to combat teams like your Brightons, and your Huddersfields and your Readings with the passing game, we also need to be able to break down tough teams like Ipswich, Blackburn and Birmingham City and score the goals to win the game.
Saturday was a lesson for the Bees. And a good lesson. And as much as dropping two points was disappointing, for me it was not that much of a downer. It looks like we’re learning to dig in and start to compete across the board against teams playing all sorts of different styles of football in this division. All we need now is more consistency.
The Ipswich fans on the podcast commented that we seemed to be building again nicely after dipping off somewhat following that surprise playoff season. And even Mick McCarthy seemed to think that we had something going on down at Griffin Park.
And if good olde “been around the block Mick McCarthy” is out there giving the Bees props, we must be doing something right.