There was a home debut to remember for John Egan as Brentford got their 2016/17 Sky Bet Championship season up and running. The centre half marked his first competitive appearance at Griffin Park with two goals in ten second half minutes. And that was enough to give Brentford a fully deserved victory over Ipswich Town. The Irish defender headed in a corner and then lashed in a second to ensure Brentford got the win.
And over the course of the 90 minutes, The Bees were well worth it. There was a tough start for the hosts as Ipswich’s physical style and energetic approach enabled them to have the upper hand in the first quarter. But once Brentford started to pick their passes and play through midfield, there was some fantastic football on show on a warm summer afternoon in West London. It ended 2-0 and could have been even more emphatic for a Brentford side that ended a week that had seen away defeats at Huddersfield Town and Exeter City with a home win.
There was no real pattern to the early stages of the game. Ipswich looked to get the ball from back to front quickly, using the physicality of Daryl Murphy and the pace of his strike partner Freddie Sears. The visitors produced an all-action start, harrying Brentford whenever The Bees had the ball and forcing the hosts to play long balls more often than they would have liked. It was a midfield battle in the first 15 minutes and the only chance came when Ryan Woods misplaced a pass and presented it to Grant Ward, the Ipswich man shot from 20 yards but Daniel Bentley got down well to save.
Brentford were the team trying to get the ball down in the first quarter but there was a lot of head tennis and exchange of long balls with few good passing moves. Nico Yennaris was the man on the Brentford team looking to take a touch and bring others in to the game but it wasn’t happening often enough for The Bees. It was Ipswich that looked most likely to get the first goal in the opening exchanges. Conor Grant curled a free kick narrowly over and then forced Bentley in to a low near post save after good work from Murphy.
Christophe Berra headed over for the visitors before, on the break, a near post cross from Jonas Knudsen nearly led to a goal for either Ward or Sears, both arriving, but a combination of Egan, Callum Elder and Bentley kept it out. Brentford best chance in the first half hour fell to Josh Clarke. The wide man was in the right place to meet a Lewis Macleod cross but miss-hit his effort from 12 yards. Clarke had a better chance when Yennaris put him away just past the half hour but he blazed wide with Scott Hogan screaming for the ball in the centre.
Bentley saved a weak Grant header but as half time approached Brentford started to take control. Romaine Sawyers and Macleod were linking well with Yennaris and The Bees were finding space in Ipswich territory. It took a last ditch clearance to prevent Sawyers reaching an Egan nod down from a free kick and Macleod dragged a shot wide from 18 yards after Hogan almost wriggled his way through on the edge of the penalty area. Sears also shot wide late in the half for Ipswich but neither team could find a way through before the break.
It was a completely different story after half time, however, as two goals from Egan inside the first ten minutes of the second half put Brentford in complete control. The first came from a Macleod corner, won when Byron Webster was forced to head a Maxime Colin cross out of the hands of goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski with Hogan arriving late. The delivery found Egan unmarked 12 yards out and he powered a header in to the bottom corner. The header was expertly placed and gave Brentford the lead less than two minutes after the break.
The second arrived only nine minutes later from another Macleod corner. This one was cleared but only as far as Yennaris who beat two men and let fly from 18 yards, Bialkowski could only palm it out and Egan was waiting to smash home with his left foot to double Brentford’s tally. Brentford had come close to a second before that when Macleod wriggled free on the left side of the penalty area and let fly with a fierce shot that Bialkowski palmed out, when the ball was delivered back in to the box, Sawyers headed down and Yennaris’ shot was blocked.
Brentford’s early second half blitz caught Ipswich cold. The Bees built on their opening goal and started to play with real confidence. Ipswich’s early energy had gone and there was space for Yennaris, Sawyers and Macleod, in particular, to express themselves. Yennaris almost added a third when a Clarke cross was half cleared but his shot, and the follow-up, were both blocked by a desperate Ipswich defence.
The visitors did try to respond. Berra headed a corner wide and Ward then narrowly missed with a volley on the stretch. But the better chances were still coming at the other end. Bialkowski tipped a Macleod volley over the top after a Clarke cross dropped at the far post. The Ipswich goalkeeper then repositioned himself well to save a lofted Macleod effort after he had cleared poorly. Macleod shot over and Sam Saunders then volleyed well over after meeting a Sawyers cross on the run.
At the other end, Teddy Bishop lashed in a cross that just eluded his attackers before Bentley saved from Jonathan Douglas after the former Brentford man had wriggled free in the penalty area. Murphy then missed the target with a shot from a narrow angle. But if there was to be a third goal, it looked more likely it would come for The Bees. Macleod had a shot blocked before Woods curled a shot wide and then blasted over from slightly further out. Murphy tried to halve the arrears with a shot on the turn but failed to trouble Bentley and that was the story of the afternoon. Brentford’s defence were largely untroubled and Egan’s double gave the hosts the win.
Brentford: Bentley; Colin (sub Saunders 67 mins), Dean, Egan, Elder; Woods, Yennaris (sub McEachran 90 mins); Clarke, Sawyers, Macleod (sub Kerschbaumer 89 mins); Hogan
Subs (not used): Bonham, Bjelland, Ledesma, Hofmann
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Chambers, Webster, Berra, Knudsen; Ward, Bru (sub Douglas 78 mins), Skuse, Grant (sub Bishop 66 mins); Sears, Murphy
Subs (not used): Gerken, Smith, Dozzell, Emmanuel, Kenlock
Bookings: Webster (38 mins)
Attendance: 10,089 (1,646 away fans)