REPORT: Ipswich Town 1 Brentford 1

Ipswich town v Brentford
Teddy Bishop for Ipswich

Ipswich town v Brentford Teddy Bishop for Ipswich - Credit: Lucy taylor

Ipswich v Brentford: Ipswich Town had to make do with a draw against top-six rivals Brentford, the Blues’ second half profligacy costing them in a 1-1 draw at Portman Road.

Championship leading scorer Daryl Murphy hooked home his 22nd league goal of the season in the ninth minute, but that was cancelled out by Jonathan Douglas’ stooping header midway through the first period.

Murphy then stabbed over an unguarded net from inside the six yard box soon after the restart, an unfortunate contender for miss of the season, the Irishman also seeing a one-on-one chance well-saved by keeper David Button.

In addition to that, Christophe Berra fired a good opening across the face of goal, while Button made a smart near post stop from sub Teddy Bishop.

It was a thoroughly entertaining game – Brentford’s exciting attacking talent always keeping the hosts on their toes – a draw meaning the sixth-place Bees stay a point above Mick McCarthy’s men in the table.

It took Town just 18 seconds to break the deadlock in the reverse fixture – a 4-2 win at Griffin Park on Boxing Day. This time they had to wait until the ninth minute, Murphy again the man to sting the Bees.

Jake Bidwell’s poor throw-in back towards keeper Button allowed Town to put their visitors on to the back foot. A corner was eventually forced and, after Richard Chaplow’s deep delivery from the right was nodded back into the danger zone by Berra, Murphy hooked home – in off the left post – from close range.

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The goal lifted the anxious pre-match feel inside the stadium and Town pushed for a second.

Freddie Sears couldn’t quite shake off the attentions of Liam Moore following Tyrone Mings’ raking ball over the top, then Murphy fired into the side-netting from the acutest of angles after nipping in between hesitant keeper Button and defender Moore. Shortly afterwards, the over-lapping Jonathan Parr fired a shot across the face of goal following a neat one-two between Chaplow and Jay Tabb in the centre of midfield.

Brentford rode the storm and were able to find a foothold in the match thanks to a series of minor errors by the Blues at the back.

Mings’ loose header led to Pritchard curling a shot that Dean Gerken comfortably held. Then, after Stuart Dallas’ clever dink just evaded Douglas’ head, Gerken inexplicably fumbled the ball behind for a corner.

You could sense the west London side growing in confidence and they duly equalised in the 25th minute. Alan Judge’s cross from the right was met by a clean Dallas volley, Gerken reacted superbly to keep out the strike but could do nothing to prevent the alert Douglas from nodding home the rebound.

Brentford could, and perhaps should, have turned the match on its head in the 31st minute when Judge headed over from six yards following Pritchard’s sumptuous outside of the boot cross.

Town then wrestled back the momentum and finished an entertaining first half as the team on top.

Murphy’s spin and shot inside the box was charged down by Moses Odubajo, that chance coming following a fine Cole Skuse pass and low Sears cross.

At the other end, Andre Gray curled just over after another loose Mings header was seized upon by Pritchard.

It then required a smart stop from Button, to deny Chaplow inside the area, that opening eventually coming after was Tabb guilty of delaying his pass to Sears a little too long following a rapid breakaway.

Town carried that momentum into the start of the second period and missed a golden opportunity to restore their lead within seconds of the restart.

Parr robbed a hesitant Odubajo of the ball high up the field and delivered a pin-point low cross that, having taken out keeper Button, left Murphy with a seemingly simple tap-in from inside the six-yard box. Somehow, the Championship’s leading scorer contrived to stab the ball over the bar.

Ipswich passed up another good opening in the 57th minute after a half-cleared Chaplow corner allowed Tabb to pick out an unmarked Berra in the box with a crisp low pass. The shot suddenly opened up, but Berra – instead of putting his foot through the ball – put an indecisive side-footed cross-cum-shot across the face of goal.

It was a similar story of profligacy in the 65th minute, Murphy latching onto Mings’ long ball, racing clear one-on-one, only to delay his effort and allow on-rushing keeper Button to make the save.

Town sub Chris Wood headed Luke Chambers’ cross wide under pressure in the 76th minute, the home crowd having booed when the lively Sears was given the hook soon after the hour mark.

With the game on a knife’s edge, both teams threatened in the closing stages. A slick move by Brentford down the right ended with Ipswich scrambling the ball clear amidst away shouts for handball in the box. At the other end, sub Teddy Bishop saw a fierce near post effort well-saved by Button after Mings’ cross had been poorly defended.

IPSWICH TOWN (4-4-2): Gerken; Chambers (cpt), Smith, Berra, Mings; Chaplow (Bishop 64), Skuse, Tabb, Parr; Murphy, Sears (Wood 64).

Unused subs: Bialkowski, Clarke, Anderson, Connolly, Varney.

BRENTFORD (4-2-3-1): Button; Odubajo, Moore (Dean 71), Tarkowski, Bidwell; Douglas (cpt), Diagouraga; Judge (Jota 67), Pritchard, Dallas; Gray (Long 75).

Unused subs: Bonham, McCormack, Toral, Smith.

Booked: Pritchard (37), Douglas (52), Diagouraga (81), Odubajo (84).

Attendance: 20,132

Referee: Scott Duncan.

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