Martin off the mark as Blues win

Brentford 1 Ipswich Town 3LEE Martin marked his first Blues appearance with a goal and Connor Wickham netted his first senior strike as Ipswich did just about enough to beat Brentford in an entertaining enough friendly.

Derek Davis

Brentford 1 Ipswich Town 3

LEE Martin marked his first Blues appearance with a goal and Connor Wickham netted his first senior strike as Ipswich did just about enough to beat Brentford in an entertaining enough friendly.

As you might expect this early in pre-season, this was not totally convincing but there were plenty of decent things, mingled in with some not so good, and manager Roy Keane will know there are areas that still need marked improvement.

Keane stood chatting and joking with his opposite number Andy Scott before the game and the Irishman looked relaxed as he also kept on eye on Town's players warming up.

Scott took the Bees to promotion as League Two champion last season, helped by Jordan Rhodes, Billy Clarke and Dean Bowditch and was awarded the BBC London Manager of the Year accolade ahead of Arsene Wenger, Harry Redknapp and Guus Hiddink.

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Rhodes got a special 'thank-you' in the programme and there is no doubt Scott would love to have the striker, who has recovered from a fractured metatarsal, back on loan and it is possible that the 19-year-old will return to further his education in League One.

Much will depend on who claims the regular starting spots up front and although Rhodes went on as a second-half substitute it was 16-year-old Connor Wickham who kicked off up front with Jon Stead.

Wickham put Town back in the lead five minutes before the break when he capitalised on a defensive error and showed, as young as he is, he has great power and beat Lewis Price with a blistering shot from just inside the area.

The Blues had initially gone ahead when Lee Martin, a �1.5million acquisition from Manchester United, showed after just eight minutes why Keane brought him in with a slick, angled finish from 12 yards.

Martin ghosted into the box from the right wing and was unmarked when Stead found him with a neat reverse pass and former Town keeper Price, who has signed on a season-long loan from Derby, was well beaten.

Price's old Portman Road training partner Shane Supple saved well at close range from Sam Wood following another long throw from David Hunt.

But there was little Supple could do on 20 minutes when new signing from Notts County Myles Weston sped around Gareth McAuley and crossed low for Ben Strevens to equalise with a simple tap-in.

Strevens went desperately close again when he got on the end of a low diagonal ball in from Sam Saunders but his effort looped over the bar.

Both new boys impressed in their own way. Martin covered a lot of ground, took the corners, got back to defend and generally showed glimpses of quality. Once his new team-mates start reading his runs he will get better service.

Irish full-back Damien Delaney, the �700,000 signing from QPR, slotted in effectively at left-back and little in the way of danger, apart from long throws, came down his side.

Keane made three changes at half-time, all in defence and probably pre-planned but Town still looked less than convincing at the back and Richard Wright was forced to make a good save from Hunt and then Saunders.

Another four changes were made on the hour as Town tried to wrest control of the game and their quality eventually re-emerged.

Owen Garvan might have done better with either the left-foot shots he had after neat work from Walters and Kevin Lisbie. There was nothing wrong with Garvan's cross five minutes from time that allowed Rhodes to nod in with a stooping header and mark his return to Griffin Park with a goal.

There was a sense of d�j� vu as the heavens opened just after the sprinklers had been turned off before kick-off, just as they did a year ago when Town won here in pre-season with Pim Balkestein heading in the winner just before the Blues set off for Ireland.

This time it is the south rather than the north of the Emerald Isle they are making for but the anticipation and expectation among supporters will be just as high for the forthcoming campaign.

Brentford: Price (Holloway, 78) O'Connor, Phillips (Ferrell, 78) Bennett (Blake, 78) Dickson (Osborne, 69) Foster, Saunders, Hunt (Bean, 69) Wood (Elder, 69) Weston (Williams, 78) Strevens (Legge, 78). Subs: Bean, Elder Osborne, Ademola, Williams, Blake, Holloway.

Ipswich Town: Supple (R Wright, 46) D Wright, McAuley (Bruce, 46) Smith (Balkestein, 46) Delaney, Walters, Trotter (Shumulikoski, 60) Norris (Garvan, 60) Martin, Stead (Lisbie, 60) Wickham (Rhodes, 60). Subs: All used.

Referee: Keith Hill.