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Brentford recorded their first ever victory over Ipswich at Portman Road – and their first win against Town since 1955 – with an emphatic 3-1 win. But what should have been a celebration was a rather muted affair as the Bees finished the game with yet another long-term casualty to add to their increasingly long list – this time chief playmaker Alan Judge – who had his leg broken in two places by a rather reckless (to say the least) challenge by Luke Hyam who received a mere yellow card as punishment.

The challenge has been discussed endlessly over the past few days, so we won’t long that conversation out any more, with Mick McCarthy and a surprisingly large number of Ipswich fans justifying the challenge by saying Hyam got the ball.

For us it was less about the legality of the challenge and more about the recklessness. As former player and manager Andy Scott tweeted, that type of challenge was only likely to end up with one result. Football is a contact sport yes. But such a horrendous challenge is plain unnecessary and dangerous.

Was it malicious? Probably not. But to me it was like a bungled burglary. Mick McCarthy gave Hyam his instructions – “Hit Judge early. Let him know we’re here.” Unfortunately for Hyam like the hapless burglar, he botched the job. Instead of robbing the till and making a clean get-away, he ended up shooting the shop-owner in the process. That may not have been his intention. But then … if you carry a gun … you always are in danger of doing someone damage.

With the Bees on such a good run of form, this whole injury business could have distracted the team. But instead, what it seemed to do is galvanise them even more – Brentford showing a level of fight that many Bees fans have been saying has been missing from the team over the last five months or so.

Once the game restarted, on the pitch there was only one team playing football as the Bees moved the ball around the park, while Ipswich had no real answer for the Bees’ passing game. But it was a move on 29 minutes which typified how Brentford as a team has really turned a corner as of late.

Kerchbaumer, bought on for the injured Judge after eight minutes, gave the ball away easily whilst in possession. It would be fair to say that KK (as the fans call him) is not exactly flavour of he month with many of the Bees fanbase who frankly don’t think he’s good enough, or see how he fits into a playoff-chasing Championship side.

However, fair play to KK, he chased down the Ipswich players, robed a lethargic Skuse of the ball, charged down the wing, held the ball up. Turned, picked out Saunders, who then curled the ball into the back of the net.

Justice was doled out to a certain extent when Hyam was red-carded deep into the injury-time in the first half that he created for squaring up to Woods after a strong challenge from the ex Shrewsbury midfielder.

1-0 Bees with a well taken goal on the break.

Lots of accusations have been flying around from Ipswich fans saying Woods should have gone for the challenge. The fact is, the referee had completely lost control of the game by not sending off Hyam in the first minute. If he had asserted his authority, there would have been none of this ‘post-leg break niggling’ going down. The two incidents are not in the same league though, and Hyam’s foolishness did the referee a favour in the end.

Ipswich had to reshuffle their pack in the second. They were looking awful up until that point. On comes Jonathon Douglas – dropped after a number of below-par performances – replacing Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The dangerous McGoldrick, returning from injury, also came on for Ben Pringle.

And to be fair to Ipswich – they looked a better team in the second half – putting Brentford under a bit more pressure with their more direct style of play. But it was the Bees who once again had the more clear-cut chances.

Another player who’s constant inclusion in the squad has been questioned by a number of fans had an outstanding game – Sam Saunders was excellent and had an air of ‘elder statesman’ about him

Saunders laying the ball off for Canos who has a dipping shot from 25 yards that should have hit the back of the net but hit the crossbar instead – Vibe unable to take advantage of the rebound.

Great movement again for the second goal, with the excellent Colin crossing for Vibe to take the p!ss with a lovely cushioned header.

And the third goal saw Vibe robbing the ball off Ipswich defender Berra before curling the ball past keeper Bialoswkiwith the outside of his foot… a superb finish!

McCormack is another player who had an excellent game – controlling his patch in the holding midfield role. Faultless all game except for one error – giving the ball away deep in Brentford’s own half with a ‘tekkers gone wrong’ two minutes from time allowing Ipswich to score an easy consolation goal.

Putting the Judge injury aside, if there was one positive one could take out of this game was the way the team picked itself up and raised its game despite the sh!t that was thrown at them. You would have laughed if, six month ago, someone told you that you would be slightly concerned after seeing Nico Yennaris’ name left off the team sheet.

But the pre-match pub chat was how were we going to cope without our newly-found midfield maestro?

But Brentford did cope. And when Judge went off, they coped again – re-shuffling the pack with each player taking full responsibility and playing with passion.

Maybe Judge coming off completely confused Ipswich. They had no idea who to look out for now. Saunders the danger-man? Surely, that wasn’t part of their pre-match briefing.

Kerchbaumer running at their defenders. That wasn’t chalked up on the white-board at the training ground last week.

Vibe – evading defenders and robbing the ball from the feet of the opposition. “There must have been a missing page in the Brentford bible” said Mick McCarthy after the match.

It’s very easy to say Ipswich were rubbish. No they weren’t great. But neither were Charlton. Or Rotherham. Or Blackburn when we played them in the last month. But they all beat us fair and square.

In last few weeks, we have finally been getting the results. And the same players who were lauded as ‘not good enough’ since the new year weeks have show that, at the very least, they can hack it with the middle-ground nearly-teams in the Championship. The top-12 finishers.

Many teams with much higher playing budgets than us.

Would we have given our right arms for that 18 months ago?

The fact that on the TWTD message board, one poster expressed he was more distraught by the fact that they had been beaten by Brentford than the fact that their team was generally not performing probably sums up where we are still.

Brentford are that itch that refuses to go away. No matter how much cream is applied.

This season, on paper, we should have been finished.

After the catastrophic 12 months we’ve had with bad business decisions, injures, the pitch farce, the manager hiring nonsense, a hit-and-miss player recruitment period, more injuries, player strikes, players leaving, no players coming in, more injuries. The fact that we could still be pushing for a top ten finish is truly remarkable.


Who takes the credit for that I ask? The way the season has gone, I’m not sure if too many people will actually put their hand up to claim that one. What to me is more encouraging is the future.

With this victory against Ipswich, who have been hovering in and around the playoff places all season, we can now truly put this season behind us and prepare for the next campaign.

How will the new summer signings fit in with the key players from this season – many of whom will be bedded in with their 1st Championship season under their belt?

Who knows … but exciting times ahead.

Now lets just enjoy the rest of this season and hopefully the team can finish as high as they can do in honour of their team-mate Alan Judge.

Billy Grant