MURPHY’S MISS PROVES COSTLY
Bees are happy to accept lifeline
MICK McCarthy refused to blame the man with the Midas touch for this defeat after Daryl Murphy proved he was human after all with a contender for miss of the season that cost Ipswich Town a crucial three points against fellow play-off contenders Brentford.
Murphy has done more than anyone to propel McCarthy’s men into contention for a top-six spot – his ninth-minute opener at Portman Road yesterday making it 22 goals in a prolific season.
But just three days after he fluffed a penalty in Town’s 2-1 defeat at Leeds United, Murphy was again culpable after missing an open goal from four yards out.
McCarthy refused to make his leading marksman a scapegoat after Murphy slid in to meet Jonathan Parr’s low cross but scooped the ball over the bar.
“He has been remarkable this season and has scored some unlikely goals along the way,” said the Ipswich boss.
“That was one you never would have expected him to miss but that’s football.”
In between Murphy switching from hero to villain, Jonathan Douglas nodded a 24th-minute equaliser as Brentford kept their own promotion dreams on track.
The absorbing 90 minutes brought a real contrast of styles under the Suffolk sun.
Brentford’s short, intricate passing, typified by Alex Pritchard, came up against a welldrilled Ipswich side whose first thought was the ball over the top to get defenders turning.
The contrast was not lost on Brentford boss Mark Warburton, whose side proved they could match the physicality of Ipswich.
Warburton said: “We have been in the top six since November, something that speaks volumes for my players.
“I thought we looked good when we got the ball down but this league is all about tough challenges. This is a very tough place to come, they are a fantastic club with an excellent manager.
“We are not a big physical team but the players stood up to Ipswich. I have told my players they are just ten games from the Premier League, the promised land. We are in the home stretch and that’s how they have to look at it. When we do what we do well, we are more than a match for any team in this league.”
After sharing six goals at Griffin Park, chances were plentiful and it was Murphy who got the game going.
Having scored after just 18 seconds when the two sides met on Boxing Day, Murphy had to wait a shade longer, hooking his foot around Christophe Berra’s knock-down to fire the ball in off a post with nine minutes played.
After a run of five defeats in ten, the early goal was welcomed by the nervous home fans, but Ipswich were soon pegged back by Douglas’ equaliser after Stuart Dallas was brilliantly denied by Dean Gerken.
With parity restored, both sides had chances with Alan Judge and Andre Gray going close for Brentford.
After Murphy’s gaffe in front of goal, the second half belonged to Bees goalkeeper David Button who made a brilliant block as Murphy broke through the away defence and then another great reaction save to deny Teddy Bishop late on.
After seeing his team create, but miss, the majority of chances, McCarthy admitted he was frustrated rather than disappointed.
He said: “Their keeper made some good saves and I am delighted rather than disappointed with our performance.
“If we keep playing like that, we will win more than we lose and we will probably be in the top six.
“It is a bonkers league with Derby drawing and Middlesbrough losing. It is going to go to the last game, the last minute.”
OPENER: Daryl Murphy celebrates scoring Ipswich’s first goal with team mates
ARM-IN-ARM: Cole Skuse, left, and Brentford’s Alex Pritchard get up close and personal