Match report: Brentford 2 Ipswich Town 0 – Corner kicks are Blues’ undoing

Conor Grant's reaction after being denied by a save from Daniel Bentley at Brentford

Conor Grant's reaction after being denied by a save from Daniel Bentley at Brentford

Corner kicks were Ipswich Town’s undoing as they lost 2-0 at Brentford this afternoon, centre-back John Egan netting both goals.

After Town enjoyed the better of a first half short on goalscoring chances, but the hosts broke the deadlock in the 48th minute when Egan – a summer signing from Gillingham – was left completely unmarked in the box to head home a looping corner delivery.

The second goal came in the 56th minute when, after the Blues failed to properly clear their lines at another corner, Nico Yannaris’ shot proved too hot to handle for Bartosz Bialkowski and the alert Egan smashed home the rebound.

You could see the confidence drain from the visiting players after that and a comeback never looked likely.

Blues boss Mick McCarthy was once again left fuming at goals being conceded from set-plays – something that always used to be their strong suit, but has recently seemed to become an Achilles heel.

Having started the season with an exciting 4-2 home win over Barnsley, Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to League Two side Stevenage in the EFL Cup, another injury to David McGoldrick, and this follow-up result has brought everyone back down to earth with a bump ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Wolves and Sunday’s home East Anglian derby against Norwich City.

McCarthy made two changes to the team which started win over Barnsley – new boys Grant Ward and Conor Grant, who both made such an impact off the bench in that match, handed their full league debuts for the Blues. They replaced David McGoldrick (ankle) and Teddy Bishop.

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There was no place on the bench for Luke Varney after the forward’s return to the club on a short-term deal the previous day.

Brentford started their campaign with a 2-1 loss at Huddersfield. Dean Smith then made nine changes to his team and they subsequently lost 1-0 at League Two side Exeter, after extra-time, in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night.

He made two changes to his original league line-up, the fit-again duo of Maxime Colin and Yannaris returning to the team at the expense of Josh McEachran and Konstantin Kerschbaumer.

Town started with a 4-4-2 system which often became a diamond – Cole Skuse rarely venturing forwards and Kevin Bru taking up the No.10 role.

The Blues had the first chance of the game when, in the third minute, Ward pounced on a loose ball and hit a low shot from the edge of the box that keeper Daniel Bentley comfortably held.

Brentford began to press high up the field and, when they did turn over possession, looked to move the ball quickly. Their final pass or cross was never quite up to standard though and Town defended solidly when required.

Jonas Knudsen was one of the players who had stood firm, while he also looked to get forwards whenever possible. When the left-back won a free-kick 25-yards from goal it was Bru who quickly snatched the ball, but Skuse appeared to gesture that Grant should take it and the Everton loanee duly whipped a lovely curling left-footed effort over the wall and just past the post.

Grant went close again four minutes later when, after some strong hold-up play by Daryl Murphy, he squeezed his way along the by-line and almost caught out Bentley at the near post. The ex-Southend custodian scrambled the shot against the post and wide.

From the subsequent Grant corner, Christophe Berra headed just over after climbing highest in the box.

Town’s purple patch continued when Knudsen’s low cross from the left caused havoc in the box. Brentford players threw their bodies on the line though and efforts from Grant and Freddie Sears were blocked.

It was Brentford who were then on top for a spell. Ryan Woods’ perfectly-weighted through ball looked to have sent Josh Clarke racing clear, but Knudsen did enough to stay with him and force the winger to slice an angled effort badly wide.

When the Bees countered quickly from a Knudsen long-throw, Adam Webster had to charge forwards and make a desperate lunge on Scott Hogan near the halfway line. He won the ball, but clattered the man and was booked as a result.

Five minute slater, Webster was turned by Hogan on the edge of the box and, after Luke Chambers’ tackle saw the ball spin free, Lewis MacLeod pulled his shot wide from a golden position. That was the Bees’ first attempt on gaol of note.

Town continued to give the home side something to think about with their balls in behind. Murphy beat the offside trap and saw his low cross cut-out just ahead of Sears. It was then roles reversed when Murphy flicked on a long ball and Sears, running at the defender, pulled his shot wide after trying to make half a yard of room.

Less than two minutes after the restart, right-back Colin sent a sublime diagonal ball into the box from deep and, with Bartosz Bialkowski racing off his line, Webster took no chances and headed behind.

Lewis Macleod’s subsequent delivery wasn’t anything special, a looping effort, but Town gave centre-back Egan the freedom of the box to head into the bottom corner. He barely had to jump.

Brentford’s tails were suddenly up and MacLeod, after tricking his way down the outside of Chambers in the box, hit a rasping angled effort which was beaten away by Bialkowski at the near post.

The west London hosts duly doubled their lead in the 56th minute as Town, once again, failed to deal with a corner kick. This time the first delivery was headed away, but Sears failed to clear his lines on the edge of the box and, after Yennaris’ fierce shot proved too hot to handle for Bialkowski, the alert Egan gobbled up the close-range rebound.

In response, Ward sent a sweet right-footed volley just over the bar after meeting Knudsen’s looping cross first time, but it was Brentford who stayed on the front foot as Bialkowski made sure Macleod’s volley went over the bar with a fingertip save.

Ipswich finally produced some incisive play in the final third when, after sharp one-touch passes from Chambers and Sears, substitute Teddy Bishop – asked to operate on the right again – sent a low cross flashing across the six-yard box.

That proved to be a rare moment of hope for the Blues though and it was Brentford who looked the far more likely to score in the closing stages as Woods curled a shot just wide. Indeed, when Murphy’s ambitious long-range effort sailed over towards the end, Blues fans ironically chanted ‘we’ve had a shot’.

BRENTFORD (4-2-3-1): Bentley; Colin (Saunders 67), Dean (cpt), Egan, Elder; Woods, Yannaris (McEachran 90); Clarke, Sawyer, Macleod (Kerschbaumer 88); Hogan.

Unused subs: Bonham, Bjelland, Ledesma, Hofmann.

IPSWICH (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (cpt), Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Ward, Skuse, Bru (Douglas 78), Grant (Bishop 66); Murphy, Sears.

Unused subs: Gerken, Smith, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Dozzell.

Booked: Webster (39)

Attendance: Xxxx

Referee: Stephen Martin