‘I don’t get just playing the game to be mid-table’ – Lambert previews Town’s trip to Brentford

Collin Quaner scored twice in Saturday's 2-1 win at Bolton. Photo: Pagepix

Collin Quaner scored twice in Saturday's 2-1 win at Bolton. Photo: Pagepix

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert says he doesn’t think the way his team finish this campaign will have any bearing on how they start the next one.

Alan Judge spent five years at Brentford before moving to Ipswich Town for a nominal fee in January.

Alan Judge spent five years at Brentford before moving to Ipswich Town for a nominal fee in January. Photo: Pagepix

The rock-bottom Blues’ long impending relegation to League One could be sealed at Brentford this evening, though that would require them to lose at Griffin Park and for both Millwall (at home to QPR) and Reading (at Norwich) to win.

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Town have certainly been much-improved of late – Saturday’s 2-1 at Bolton on Saturday made it only two defeats in nine. After tonight the season concludes with games against Birmingham (h), Preston (a), Swansea (h), Sheffield United (a) and Leeds (h).

Asked if it was important to take some momentum into the summer, Lambert replied: “I’m not a great believer in that because once the last ball’s kicked in the season, people go away for six weeks or so and they won’t give it a thought. When you come back for pre-season, that’s when you think ‘this is it now’.

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“So whatever happens this season, I’m never one to look back on what happened, good or bad. Let it go and we move on to the next one and then let’s see what happens.”

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Brentford have finished inside the top 10 for four successive seasons since claiming promotion from the third-tier in 2014. They started this season in fine form, but their 1-1 draw at Portman Road last September proved to be the start of a run which included just two wins in 20 games across all competitions.

MORE: ‘That doesn’t bother me... it will definitely be a smaller squad’ - Lambert on streamlining and using free agent market

Thomas Frank replaced Dean Smith in the hot-seat, after the latter moved to Aston Villa in October, with the Dane enjoying some mixed fortunes. The Bees, currently 14th in the standings, have swept aside several teams at home, putting five goals past Blackburn and Hull in 2019, but are currently on a five-game winless streak.

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When it was put to him that the West London club have done well to consolidate their Championship status in recent years, Lambert replied: “I’m pretty sure they’d want to make a dent in the top six. I don’t get just playing the game to be mid-table.

MORE: Nolan out, Keane a doubt and changes on the way as Town travel to Brentford

“You try and play the game to be successful and when you don’t have success it eats away at you. So, you’d probably have to ask them that, how they feel, but I think moving to a new stadium (at the end of next season) is going to be really good for them.”

Opposition lowdown

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Last five finishes: 9th, 10th, 9th, 5th (all Championship), 2nd (League One)

Manager: Thomas Frank (Oct’ 18): P32 W11 D7 L14

Home form: W11 D4 L5 F43 A23

Last game: D 3-3 Derby (h)

Last attendance: 12,225

MORE: ‘I had someone tweet me saying they were going to get my name tattooed on their backside if I signed!’ – Judge on staying at Ipswich Town

Last 10 games: DLDLL WWLWL

Margins of victory: 1 (x6), 2 (x7), 3+ (x4)

Margins of defeat: 1 (x10), 2 (x5), 3+ (x2)

Top-scorers: 24: Maupay; 11: Benrahama; 9: Watkins; 8: Canos

Most league starts: 38: Maupay, Sawyers; 37: Dalsgaard; 33: Bentley; 30: Barbet, Watkins

Stat attack

+20 – Brentford’s home goal difference

James Bree could return to the Ipswich Town side tonight. Photo: Steve Waller

James Bree could return to the Ipswich Town side tonight. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

140 – Games Alan Judge played for Brentford

20 – Goals over the last six games between Brentford and Ipswich

Last meeting

Ipswich Town 1 Brentford 1

Date: Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A classic tale of two halves. The in-form Bees utterly dominated the opening period and led through Neal Maupay’s looping header (31). A wing-back system was abandoned by Paul Hurst at the break. Town vastly improved and fully deserved Kayden Jackson’s fine headed leveller (73). Jackson, who had already hit the bar with an overhead kick, could have won it at the death.

Ipswich Town team news

– Jon Nolan will again be available with the Achilles injury he suffered in the first half against Hull.

– Will Keane has missed the last six games with a hamstring injury. He travelled to Bolton on Saturday, but was not name on the bench. Paul Lambert says he is still not ready to return.

MORE: Town introduce ticket restrictions to stop Leeds fans flooding Portman Road on final day

– Lambert says he decided last week what team to play against Bolton and what team to play against Brentford. He has confirmed that Toto Nsiala will replace James Collins and there will be several changes.

– Callum Elder, Matthew Pennington, Emyr Huws, Tom Adeyemi, Grant Ward, Jack Lankester, Freddie Sears, Ben Morris and Ben Folami all remain unavailable.

Brentford team news

– Luke Daniels will again deputise in goal as Daniel Bentley remains sidelined (shoulder).

– Asked if he would make changes to his side, following Saturday’s 3-3 home draw with Derby, manager Thomas Frank said: “Good question. I need to sleep on this one, look the players in the eyes and see. But I guess there will be a couple of changes, but there could also be none. I will look at that.”

Opposition key man

Neal Maupay

French striker has scored 24 goals in all competitions for the Bees this season, 15 of them at Griffin Park and another coming at Portman Road. A test for Toto Nsiala as he returns to the heart of the Town defence.

MORE: Signing strikers is a summer priority for Lambert... and he wants to keep Keane at Town permanently


Brentford – 18/35

Draw – 15/4

Ipswich Town – 7/1


Andy Davies (Hampshire)

Games: 32, Yellows: 110, Reds: 6

Stu’s prediction

Brentford 3 Ipswich Town 1

Brentford score plenty at home. This is a big step up from Bolton.

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