Bees are happy to ac­cept life­line

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dave Good­er­ham

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

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

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