Neal Maupay’s eighth goal of the season was not enough for Brentford to record a third straight Sky Bet Championship win. The striker scored with a header as The Bees led Ipswich Town 1-0 at half time at Portman Road but that goal was cancelled out in the second half. Kayden Jackson scored with a header of his own, in to the same corner of the net, to earn his team a point and prevent them going the same way as Nottingham Forest and Wigan Athletic in recent weeks.
Although Ipswich had their spells of control in the second half, it would be hard to argue they deserved their point. The Bees had more possession, dominated territory, had more chances and Dean Gerken was by far the busier goalkeeper. But Brentford could only score once and that wasn’t enough to get them the win.
The game started at a frenetic pace with Brentford doing most of the attacking. Ollie Watkins was almost on to a raking Yoann Barbet pass inside the first two minutes but was beaten to it by Ipswich goalkeeper Gerken, who then got down to his left to save from Saïd Benrahma. Gerken was in the action again soon after when Maupay went clear through the middle and rounded the Ipswich goalkeeper before falling to the ground but referee Darren Bond decided the Brentford attacker had simulated contact and cautioned him.
That all came within the first five minutes, as did an Ipswich opening. A loose back pass from Henrik Dalsgaard almost allowed Ellis Harrison a run at goal, Daniel Bentley came out and this time the Ipswich attacker went to ground. Mr Bond decided Bentley had got a touch and awarded a corner. And the action continued at breakneck speed for the rest of the opening 20 minutes, with chances at both ends.
It was to be expected that the game was played at a high pace given the emotion on display at Portman Road. The home side marked the death of one of their greatest players – Kevin Beattie – before kick-off and their fans backed the team from the first whistle. And Ipswich responded with a high-energy display, albeit Brentford repelled it for long periods.
The Bees came close to the opening goal when, after a corner was half cleared, Romaine Sawyers played a one-two with Watkins and drilled in a cross-cum-shot that took a couple of deflections and bounded inches past the far post. Gerken was beaten and it was just out of the reach of Maupay as Ipswich survived. Moments later another fine move enabled Dalsgaard to get on the overlap and deliver a cross, Maupay’s header was cleared deep inside the six-yard box, Kamohelo Mokotjo failed to connect with an acrobatic effort and Sawyers fizzed a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Jonas Knudsen saw a shot deflected over the bar at the other end when a free kick was half cleared, and the resulting corner should have led to the opening goal. The delivery was met by Matthew Pennington eight yards out but he headed straight at Bentley. The Brentford goalkeeper reacted quickly to save that and to dive on the ball as Luke Chambers was waiting for anything loose.
As the first quarter of the game came to a close it started to quieten a little. Ipswich’s attempts to get players high up the pitch to try and stop Brentford passing in to midfield was having some success but the inconsistent nature of their play was leaving gaps. Josh McEachran, at the base of the Brentford midfield, would sometimes have yards of space and on other occasions find himself surrounded. The Bees were not always able to get the ball in and out of the centre of the park quickly but had joy when they did. With Mokotjo and Sawyers getting close to the lively Maupay and forcing Ipswich in to mistakes when they got the ball, Brentford had the upper hand.
And just past the half hour, they turned that in to the first goal. It was Maupay who got it and his eighth of the season had been coming as Brentford moved up a gear just past the midway point of the first half. The Bees should have scored from a low McEachran corner which reached Sawyers 15 yards out but he failed to make an effective connection. A clever turn, run and pass from Maupay then looked as if it had set Benrahma clear but Janoi Donacien made a fine recovery tackle. Moments later, however, there was nothing Ipswich could do.
The swarm of attacking Brentford players could not be repelled and won the ball again after Benrahma’s chance had gone. This time they overloaded on the right and Dalsgaard delivered a cross, Watkins attempt was blocked but looped up perfectly for Maupay to arc a header in to the net. The ball took a perfect parabola over Gerken and just underneath the crossbar as Brentford’s pressure finally turned in to a goal.
And it could have been two soon after when Benrahma got on to a chipped pass from Yoann Barbet, played a one-two with Sawyers and let fly from 25 yards but Gerken saved low to his left. There may have been an expectation of a response from Ipswich, but they could hardly get the ball. The effort of the hosts could not be faulted but they could not deal with the movement and efficiency of passing of their visitors. Brentford found gaps in a packed defence and midfield and there were always men over. Benrahma was denied again by Gerken as half time approached, this time at full stretch, and Brentford’s only concern at the break was that they only led by one.
And that lead could have been erased within ten minutes of the restart. Ipswich made changes at the interval, both in terms of personnel and system. They bought on attack-minded Jon Nolan and Gwion Edwards, went more direct and moved to a more traditional 4-4-2 shape. With fresh legs and new ideas, they went on the attack from the start of the second period and although an early shot from Trevor Chalobah was so wide it went out for a throw in, the home side were suddenly more threatening.
A fine turn from Grant Ward enabled him to set up Knudson for a shot that Bentley saved well at the near post and Brentford escaped again from the resulting corner. Bentley was unable to claim a high ball, an overhead effort from Jackson hit the crossbar and Chambers’ follow-up effort was blocked inside the six-yard box. Another corner caused confusion soon after and a Chalobah header had to be blocked before it was scrambled away.
The Bees had been forced to defend for most of the opening ten minutes of the second half but they appeared to have weathered that storm as the hour mark approached. McEachran and Sawyers were once again able to find space and they were able to get Brentford playing again. They linked particularly well with each other as The Bees went searching for a second goal that would knock the stuffing out of the home side.
A superb break involving Maupay and Benrahma led to a shooting chance for Watkins, but his effort was saved by Gerken and when the ball was recycled, a shot from Sawyers was blocked. Another fine move that saw Barbet and Sawyers link before the former burst forward led to Mokotjo setting up Maupay, he drew Gerken and looked to have beaten him but the goalkeeper saved with his legs. Barbet then fired a free kick against the crossbar from 22 yards with Gerken beaten all ends up before McEachran’s ball in to the box was scrambled away.
Maupay had another sight of goal when set up by McEachran, who had picked up a loose ball, and it seemed Brentford had complete control. But, out of nothing, Ipswich levelled. The Bees were unable to fully clear a free kick and the ball was worked back to Chalobah, he delivered a superb cross from the right that Jackson met with a powerful header that flew over Bentley and in to the net. It was a superbly executed goal and Jackson tested Bentley again later in the half with a shot from 25 yards that he saved low.
Brentford responded well to the goal and spent most of the rest of the game on the attack. But Ipswich had worked hard to be level and battled to hold on to it. Maupay had a shot blocked before he was replaced by Alan Judge and Brentford pushed men forward looking for a second goal.
Ipswich held a solid defensive line and looked to counter-attack. That meant The Bees were unable to create a clear-cut chance and, indeed, Ipswich could have run it. Jackson was able to break free in the inside right channel and had only Bentley to beat but Konsa raced back to push him wide and the strike missed the target. That proved to be the last chance for either side to win it and the spoils were shared.
Ipswich Town: Gerken; Pennington, Chambers, Knudsen; Spence (sub Edwards h/t), Skuse, Chalobah (sub Downes 83 mins), Donacien; Ward; Harrison (sub Nolan h/t), Jackson
Subs (not used): Bialkowski, Graham, Edun, Kenlock
Bookings: Knudsen (90 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Dalsgaard, Konsa, Mepham, Barbet; McEachran (sub Yennaris 69 mins); Benrahma (sub Canós 59 mins), Mokotjo, Sawyers, Watkins; Maupay (sub Judge 79 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Clarke, Jeanvier, Macleod
Bookings: Maupay (5 mins), Barbet (57 mins) (second of season)
Attendance: 14,897 (453 Bees fans)