Report: Brentford 2 Ipswich Town 2 – Late heartbreak as Blues concede two stoppage-time goals
There was late heartbreak for Ipswich Town as they conceded two goals in injury-time to draw 2-2 at Brentford on the opening day of the 2015/16 season.
The Blues had produced a classy away day counter-attacking display to lead through fine goals from Kevin Bru and Ryan Fraser, scored right at the end and start of each half respectively.
But, with the job seemingly done, they collapsed dramatically at the death – Andre Gray and James Tarkowski netting in the second and fifth minutes of added on time respectively.
First Gray shrugged off the attentions of Tommy Smith to latch onto a long ball and coolly finish, then Tarkowski stooped to nod home on the goalline after keeper Bartosz Bialkowski had flapped at a corner and the ball inadvertently hit Smith’s head before coming back off the post.
It was particularly hard to take give that Mick McCarthy’s men had produced a counter-attacking display filled with panache, the new-look Blues soaking up any pressure well and constantly looking a menace thanks to the pace and trickery of new men Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Fraser on the flanks.
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The story of the first half was one of Brentford continually probing and Ipswich always looking a threat on the counter.
Freddie Sears saw a shot deflected just wide in the ninth minute, following Ryan Fraser’s quick throw, with the home side responding when Jota skipped inside and saw his effort deflected past the post.
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The Bees’ game plan was clear – overload down the left side and really test out Town’s 17-year-old debutant right-back Josh Emmanuel. The latter stood firm though and, though the hosts continued to enjoy more possession, Ipswich kept giving them plenty to think about.
After Konstantin Kerschbaumer gave the ball away cheaply in the middle of the park, Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ low cross hit Toumani Diagouraga in the box and almost wrong-footed keeper David Button.
Moments later, Alan Judge’s curling free-kick from the edge of the box – following Emmanuel’s foul on the tricky Andy Gogia – flew just wide of the left post.
It required a fine saving challenge from Tommy Smith to prevent Jota pulling the trigger in the box after the right-winger had run on to a well-weighted Kerschbaumer pass and burst past Luke Chambers.
At the other end, Cole Skuse nicked the ball off of Harlee Dean in a dangerous position but couldn’t pick out a Town team-mate with his cut-back. Then Bru saw an angled side-footed effort easily saved by Button.
Bartosz Bialkowski produced a magnificent save to keep the scores level in the 35th minute, adjusting in midair to somehow keep out Jota’s close-range header following Judge’s cross from the left.
Town responded superbly and ended the half on top.
Dean produced a late tackle on Sears in the box, sand flying everywhere as a poor playing surface continued to cut up badly.
Maitland-Niles fired one effort from the edge of the box well over then put a self-won free-kick straight into Button’s arms.
The latter then matched Bialkowski’s earlier eye-catching stop, somehow keeping out Sears’ stabbed close-range effort. That chance came after Tarkowski had produced a lunging block on Daryl Murphy following Fraser’s low cut-back.
Ipswich’s momentum finally paid off seconds before the half-time whistle.
Fraser’s dipping shot from the edge of the box hit the inside of the left-hand post low and spun out on an acute angle to the right. Emmanuel picked up the loose ball and dinked it back into the box, Bru – in acres of space – producing a fine scissor kick finish from 10 yards out.
Town doubled their lead five minutes after the restart, breaking a poor offside trap just inside the home side’s half.
Bru’s reverse pass suddenly saw Town attacking two on one. Sears raced forwards, slipped the ball left of on-rushing keeper Button at the last minute and Fraser – who first had to adjust and take a touch of a ball that was slightly behind him – coolly finished into an unguarded net as defenders were rushing back.
A packed away end was bouncing, but Brentford came within a whisker of pulling a goal back when Alan McCormack’s wicked delivery from the right flew just past the head of Jota in the six yard box.
Star striker Gray – left on the bench amidst continued transfer interest from Hull City – was introduced for midfielder Kerschbaumer in the 55th minute, the home side changing to a 4-4-2 system.
With Brentford beginning to grow frustrated, Ipswich had a golden chance to turn the screw when Sears burst past Diagouraga. Unfortunately, the Blues striker decided to shoot into a crowded area instead of slipping the ball left to an unmarked Fraser.
Brentford did provide Town with a reminder of their threat not long after the hour mark when Gray lifted an angled shot over a stranded Bialkowski and just over the bar.
In the 67th minute Ipswich were forced into a change after Bru fell to the ground in pain immediately after hitting a ferocious drive that stung the palms of Button. After a delay in which he was seen to by the physio, Town’s goalscorer was replaced by Giles Coke.
Blues boss McCarthy brought on Jonathan Douglas for Fraser in the 78th minute, the former Bees skipper given a standing ovation by the home fans.
Town’s second goal had taken the wind out of Brentford and it wasn’t until the final 10 minutes that they really staged any sort of a figthtback.
Bialkowski produced a brave stop at the feet of substitute Lasse Vibe after Gray had drifted inside from the right, with Judge firing a volley over following Gray’s left wing cross moments later.
Then came the late drama.
Tarkowski’s long punt up the field led to Gray pulling a goal back from nowhere.
Then, after a corner was forced, Brentford sent up the keeper and – with the home crowd sucking the ball in – Tarkowski got the vital touch following an inswinging delivery.
BRENTFORD (4-2-3-1): Button; McCormack (Vibe 72), Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Diagouraga, Kerschbaumer (Gray 55); Jota, Gogia, Judge; Hofmann.
Unused subs: Bonham, Bjellend, O’Connell, Yannaris, Barbet.
Booked: Jota (83).
IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Emmanuel, Chambers, Smith, Knudsen; Maitland-Niles (McGoldrick 82), Skuse, Bru (Coke 69), Fraser (Douglas 78); Sears, Murphy.
Unused subs: Gerken, Yorwerth, Toure, Pitman.
Attendance: 10,789 (1,662 away).