BRENTFORD 2 IPSWICH TOWN 0

Bill Hagerty sees the Bees return to winning ways in a lacklustre Griffin Park encounter

 

It was hardly a night to remember. Indeed, following the thrills of the high-scoring draw against Derby, the despairing visit to Griffin Park of the Tractor Boys might well have been forgotten before one reached the end of Braemar Road but for the spirited presence of 1,600 fans from East Anglia.

Indefatigable in support of a team that would slide into Division One if they lost and fellow relegation candidates won, such as Reading at table-toppers Norwich, their fans brought good humour and voluble enthusiasm to a game that as a football spectacle didn’t really deserve it.

More of them later, but first observations on a stuttering Bees’ performance that made hard work of despatching a side that had already conceded 65 goals as it ploughed its way towards the drop.With Josh Dasilva called up in place of Kamohelo Mokotjo and Henrik Dalsgaard on  the bench, Brentford still looked a threatening outfit on paper. But on the pitch they struggled to establish cohesion in the last evening fixture of the season and made no impression at all on the visitors for twenty minutes devoid of incident other than Ipswich striker Colin Quaner chipping the ball beautifully over Luke Daniels only to see it rebound from an upright.

Rotten luck, especially as the near miss spurred the Bees into immediate action. Said Benrahma, regaining his familiar fizz, fed Neal Maupay neatly and at his second attempt the prolific goalscorer racked up his twenty-fifth of the season. 

And worse was to follow for Ipswich. Midfielder Flynn Downes slipped and fell on a wet pitch – using sprinklers on it during the interval was like Ella Fitzgerald’s Hard-Hearted Hannah pouring water on a drowning man – allowing Romaine Sawyers to plunder the ball and then Benrahma to set up Ollie Watkins for a neat finish.

Come the second half and we settled in anticipation of Brentford increasing a goal difference that by then stood at nine – better than any other side outside the top six. A chance came for Watkins, moving at speed into the opposing penalty area before he also slipped on the wet grass. Then Benrahma, seizing upon a chip from Sawyers that deserved to be framed and hung on the wall, clipped the ball against the angle of post and crossbar before ballooning another chance over the bar.

Meanwhile, Reading were ahead at Carrow Road and the writing reading 'Goodbye' was on the wall for Ipswich. A packed visitors’ end responded magnificently. ‘Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be, we’re going to Shrewsbury,’ they sang. And, as their team rallied and began to penetrate Brentford’s defence, ‘If we score, we’re on the pitch’.

Alan Judge, much-loved Bees’ stalwart until earlier in the season, did his best to please, drawing a classy save from Daniels with a curling drive and then shooting wide with a familiar pot-shot from the edge of the area.

At Carrow Road Norwich – Ipswich’s perpetual rivals – scored twice and relegation rivals Millwall were drawing at QPR. Next year's visit to Shrewsbury was deferred and relegation put, almost certainly only temporarily, on hold, even though Reading snatched a draw in the dying moments. ‘We never deserved to take anything from the game,’ Ipswich manager Paul Lambert told the BBC. ‘We were up against a good side.’

They can be, I mused to my mate Charlie. It’s fascinating how the stiffer the opposition, the more the Bees often can raise their game to be super-competitive.

‘Leeds had better watch out then,’ said Charlie.

 

Brentford: Daniels, Konsa, Jeanvier, Mads Bech Sὃrensen, Odubajo, Dasilva, Sawyers, Henry, Watkins (sub Forss), Benrahma (Canos), Maupay (Marcondes).

Ipswich Town: Bialkowski, Bree, Chambers, Nsiala, Kenlock, Bishop (Nydam), Chalobah (El Mizouni), Downes, Dozzell, Quaner (Jackson), Judge.