Bees strike late to earn a share of the spoils
If Brentford have another 45 Sky Bet Championship games like their opening day clash against Ipswich Town, there will be no-one complaining about a lack of drama.
The Bees looked down and out when they trailed Ipswich 2-0 in stoppage time.
After starting brightly The Bees fell behind late in the first half to a Kevin Bru goal and were then hit early in the second period as Ryan Fraser scored.
They tried to respond but a well-drilled Ipswich side were able to largely keep them at arms’ length.
A few chances came and went but the visitors never really looked likely to lose their lead once they had established it, until the death.
Andre Gray raced clear to halve the arrears and, scarcely believably, James Tarkowski nodded home an equaliser with the last touch of the game to level it up.
A draw did not look likely with even 300 seconds remaining but over the 90 minutes, Brentford might claim to have done enough to earn a share of the spoils.
They started the game brightly, they were on the front foot from the first whistle and their midfield played in Ipswich’s half.
The busy Alan Judge was making the play, with almost everything going through him as he popped up on both flanks.
Andy Gogia provided an outlet on the left flank but was hindered by the Griffin Park pitch cutting up badly on his side very early in the match.
Brentford had an early chance when Harlee Dean headed a Judge corner over and a Jota shot deflected wide inside the first quarter hour.
Judge also pulled a shot wide after linking with Gogia, and the pair showed good understanding throughout, but the best chance of the first 15 minutes came at the other end.
Freddie Sears got away from Dean after Jonas Knudsen had quickly thrown the ball down the line, he cut inside but the low shot was tipped around the post by David Button.
Daryl Murphy missed the target for the visitors after getting on to a long ball and Konstantin Kerschbaumer fired wide at the other end after exchanging passes with Judge.
Philipp Hofmann headed wide for The Bees and Bartosz Bialkowski saved from Gogia before Judge curled a free kick inches wide.
Brentford had dominated the first quarter but Ipswich were showing the resilience that had served them well in reaching the Play-Offs last season.
They were very solid at the back and their midfield was quick to get back in to position and prevent Brentford overloading in midfield.
Toumani Diagouraga was able to link with Kerschbaumer and Judge for Brentford but often with a wall of blue in front of him.
Button had to be alert to prevent Diagouraga turning a cross from Ainsley Maitland-Niles in to his own net and then the Brentford goalkeeper saved from Bru but most of the action was at the other end.
Tommy Smith made a superb recovery tackle as Jota prepared to pull the trigger after nutmegging Luke Chambers and Brentford’s Spanish attacker went closer still moments later.
Judge got on to a long cross field pass and fed in a cross that Jota met with a header from six yards but Bialkowski somehow managed to claw it away and keep his team level.
Kerschbaumer and Jota missed the target with shots but Ipswich ended the half stronger and Brentford were made to pay for not getting their noses in front.
Dean made a fine recovery tackle to prevent Sears going away and Button saved a Fraser header.
Maitland-Niles fired over after cutting inside and then curled a free kick straight at Button.
The visitors should have gone ahead when, after a corner was half cleared, Fraser drilled the ball across to Smith five yards out but Tarkowski somehow made a tackle and Sears’ follow-up shot was saved outstandingly by Button.
But they did not have to wait much longer.
Fraser picked up a quick free-kick and let fly from 25 yards with a shot that cannoned off the inside of the post and rolled across the goal-line, Josh Emmanuel reacted quickest to cross for Bru to meet it with an acrobatic volley and bounce it past Button.
The goal came seconds before half time and Ipswich doubled their lead within five minutes of the second half.
After a flicked effort from Jake Bidwell was gathered by Bialkowski, the Ipswich goalkeeper propelled the ball down field to Sears, who had beaten the offside trap on the right, he drew Button and squared for Fraser to tap home.
It could have been worse for Brentford, Button saved from Bru before Sears and Fraser had shots blocked.
Jota had a shot blocked at the other end and then was just unable to stretch to head a superb Alan McCormack cross home at the far post.
Gray, introduced early in the second half, got in behind on to a Tarkowski ball but lifted his effort over.
However, Ipswich were in control of the game, despite a formation switch from Brentford that saw Gray partnering Hofmann in attack.
Button went full stretch to palm away a Bru shot before follow-ups from Fraser and Maitland-Niles were blocked.
Brentford Head Coach Marinus Dijkhuizen handed a debut to Lasse Vibe as he went to an ultra-attacking 3-4-1-2 system in the final 15 minutes, trying to salvage something from the afternoon.
And it proved to be a masterstroke.
Vibe volleyed over when Gogia headed a Judge corner down and Jota then had a shot blocked.
Gray was starting to look lively and when he got on to a Jota ball he got away from the defence and set up Vibe but Bialkowski saved bravely.
Gogia shot wide and Judge fired a Gray cut back over from 12 yards as chances started to come and Ipswich got deeper and deeper.
Gray had a header saved and, from a corner, Jota and Bidwell both saw efforts blocked.
When Gray raced on to a Tarkowski ball and slotted past Bialkowski, it appeared to be in vain.
And when Hofmann saw a shot deflect wide moments later, Brentford’s chances looked to have gone.
But there was still time.
Judge delivered a corner from the left, Bialkowski came, got impeded by his own defender and flapped at it, the ball cannoned off the post before Tarkowski stooped to conquer, nodding in from inches out to give The Bees a share of the spoils.
Brentford: Button; McCormack (sub Vibe 73 mins), Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Diagouraga, Judge, Kerschbaumer (sub Gray 55 mins); Jota, Hofmann, Gogia
Subs (not used): Bonham, Yennaris, Bjelland, Barbet, O’Connell
Bookings: Jota (83 mins)
Ipswich Town: Bialkowski; Emmanuel, Chambers, Smith, Knudsen; Maitland-Niles (sub McGoldrick 82 mins), Bru (sub Coke 69 mins), Skuse, Fraser (sub Douglas 78 mins); Sears, Murphy
Subs (not used): Gerken, Pitman, Yorwerth, Touré
Attendance: 10,789 (1,662 away fans)
By Chris Wickham