|Brentford 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Wednesday, 10th April 2019 Kick-off 19:45
Town Visit Brentford Targeting First Back-to-Back Wins
Tuesday, 9th Apr 2019 12:48
Town visit Brentford on Wednesday evening looking to record back-to-back wins for the first time this season (Sky Sports red button, iFollow Ipswich, KO 7.45pm).
The Blues won their first match in 13 at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday but remain 13 points plus goal difference from safety with relegation to third tier for the first time in 62 years confirmed if they lose to the Bees and Millwall, who are at home to QPR, and Reading, who are at Norwich, and Wigan, at Hull City, all win.
Despite Town’s hopes of staying up having long been over barring a miracle, Lambert says recording back-to-back victories for the first time under his management would be a step forward.
“Yes, and we’ll go there to try and win,” he said. “But the young ones are going to make mistakes, they’re going to have to learn their job, which is important.
“That’s why I think the crowd have been brilliant because the young ones need them. They need that development stage of their careers where they have to go through certain aspects of their game.
“As I’ve said before, the crowd have got a big part to play in the young players’ development and I think they’re playing as well as they can or as well as they’re being allowed to.
"No criticism or no booing or things like that, they’ve just gone and played with freedom, I think that's been vital.”
Lambert doesn’t feel a strong end to this season would play much of a part in the way 2019/20 begins.
“I’m not a great believer in that because once the last ball’s kicked in the season, people go away for six weeks or so and they won’t give it a thought,” he added.
“Then when you know you’re coming back in a couple of days’ time for pre-season, you think, ‘This is it now, this is when the season [starts]’.
“So whatever happens this season, I’m never one to look back on what happened, good or bad. Let it go and we move on to the next one and then let’s see what happens.”
Having been serious automatic promotion contenders when the teams drew 1-1 at Portman Road in September, the Bees subsequently drifted into mid-table and they go into Wednesday’s game in 14th, 11 points off the play-offs and 12 from the relegation zone.
While hardly a disastrous season for a team without a huge budget by Championship standards who have lost plenty of their top players over the course of the last few seasons, Lambert feels they will have wanted more from the campaign.
“I’m pretty sure you’d want to make a dent in the top six,” he said. “I don’t get just playing the game if you want to be mid-table. I don’t get that, I’ve not been used to that.
“You try and play the game to be successful and when you don’t have success it eats away at you. So, you’d probably have to ask them that, how they feel, but I think moving to a new stadium I think is going to be really good for them.
“I think Griffin Park’s a hard place to get a result because of the way the pitch is and their new stadium might take a little bit of time to get going to that, but I’m pretty sure if you asked most of the Brentford lads or anybody else there, you’d probably want to make a little go at it rather than being mid-table.”
The Bees have established a reputation for attractive football since their promotion to the Championship in 2014 with Lambert’s Blues similarly looking to play the game in a manner which is easy on the eye.
“They have, and they’ve got a lot of foreign lads in their team,” the Blues boss continued. “It will be a difficult game but I’m looking forward to it because we’re playing well ourselves.”
Bartosz Bialkowski will be in goal, while Lambert has said he will recall Toto Nsiala for James Collins, who hasn’t played a lot of football recently due to his calf injury, alongside skipper Luke Chambers at the heart of the defence.
James Bree will probably return to the team for Josh Emmanuel for similar reasons at right-back with Myles Kenlock continuing on the left.
In midfield, Lambert seems likely to stick with Cole Skuse but will probably swap Teddy Bishop and Andre Dozzell for Trevoh Chalobah and Flynn Downes with the Blues having three games in eight days.
Alan Judge and Gwion Edwards again look set to be the wide men in the front three with Collin Quaner, who has scored three goals in his last two starts, the central striker. Will Keane looks likely to be among the subs.
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank is wary of Town’s recent form, despite their lowly position in the table.
“They are in a massive relegation battle, we know that,” he told the Bees official site. “They’re fighting for their lives and we know when people are fighting for their lives it’s very, very difficult to play against them.
“Maybe it’s only one win in 13, but I see they have only lost two in nine. That means that is a team, you can see the results are 1-1, 1-1, 1-1, lost 0-2, then winning 2-1 against Bolton.
“So we know it’s a team that will give everything and they need to do everything. Even though it seems hopeless, they need to give the biggest go every single game.
“It [wouldn't be] the first time in the history of football that a team that everybody thinks are done, they’re over, turn it around and made a miracle. So, they will do everything they can to make that miracle continue on Wednesday.”
Reflecting on the Blues’ predicament, he added: “I feel for the club, for the fans, for Paul Lambert, for the owners because we know how football is. It’s very emotional, it’s very tough to take and when you are in a situation like this, it’s extremely difficult.
“But it’s football and every year somebody needs to go down and somebody needs to be promoted.”
The Bees are again set to be without keeper Daniel Bentley (shoulder), while defender Yoann Barbet (ankle) and midfielder Lewis Macleod (hamstring) are also still out.
The sides have only met on 17 previous occasions with the Blues having had the better of the West Londoners overall, although not in league competition.
Town have won six of the games between the teams (three in the league), the Bees four (four) with six (six) ending in draws.
In September at Portman Road, Kayden Jackson nodded his first Championship goal as the Blues held then-second-placed Brentford to a 1-1 draw.
Neal Maupay gave the Bees a deserved 31st minute lead in a first half the visitors dominated but Town were much better after the break as they came back to claim their fourth home draw of the campaign with Jackson heading the equaliser on 73.
In April last year at Griffin Park in Mick McCarthy’s penultimate match in charge of Town, Neal Maupay’s 72nd minute penalty saw Brentford to a 1-0 victory, Jonas Knudsen having been harshly adjudged to have fouled Bees sub Sergi Canos.
The Blues rarely looked like getting back on terms, although Grant Ward’s powerful shot was stopped by home keeper Daniel Bentley, then Chris Mepham blocked Martyn Waghorn’s effort from the rebound.
Blues midfielder Judge spent five years at Griffin Park between January 2014 and January 2019, initially joining the Bees on loan from Blackburn.
Overall, the Irishman, who signed a new contract with Town last week, made 106 starts and 34 sub appearances for Brentford, scoring 26 goals. He remains a popular figure at Griffin Park.
Blues midfielder Tom Adeyemi, who recently returned to training having missed the whole of the season up to now due to an achilles injury, was at Griffin Park on loan from Norwich in 2012/13 when he made 29 starts and 10 sub appearances, scoring three goals.
Wednesday’s referee is Andy Davies from Hampshire, who has shown 110 yellow cards and six red in 32 games so far this season.
Davies’s last Town match was the opening day 2-2 draw with Blackburn at Portman Road in which he booked Chambers and Ellis Harrison as well as three visiting players.
Prior to that he was at Portman Road for the 1-0 defeat to Cardiff in February 2018 in which he booked only one Bluebird.
He also took charge of the 0-0 home draw with QPR on Boxing Day 2017 in which he dismissed visitors midfielder Josh Scowen in the closing stages for a second yellow card and booked Knudsen.
Davies was also the man in the middle in the game between the Blues and Rangers at Loftus Road in September of the same year when he booked Callum Connolly, Downes and one home player as well as making an error for Rangers’ opening goal when he failed to spot an obvious handball by Massimo Luongo as the home side ran out 2-1 winners.
A month earlier he refereed the 2-1 Carabao Cup defeat at Crystal Palace in which he again booked Downes but otherwise kept his cards in his pocket.
Before that he took control of the 3-0 loss at Nottingham Forest on the final day of 2016/17 in which he cautioned Christophe Berra and Emmanuel.
He was also in charge of the 3-0 home victory over Wigan in April 2017, in which he yellow-carded Ward, Kenlock, Toumani Diagouraga and two Latics, and the 2-0 defeat at Huddersfield three months earlier in which he booked Berra, Kevin Bru, Tom Lawrence, Jonathan Douglas, Paul Digby and no home players.
Davies has only taken charge of two other Town matches, both of which ended goalless and saw the opposition reduced to 10 men.
He officiated in the 0-0 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion in September 2016, in which he showed eight yellow cards, two of them and then a red to Seagulls midfielder Dale Stephens. Chambers, Emmanuel, Douglas and Lawrence were the Town players cautioned.
Prior to that, he was in charge of the 0-0 home draw with Huddersfield in October 2015 when he red-carded Terriers striker James Vaughan for a second bookable offence in the final minute.
Squad from: Bialkowski, Gerken, Bree, Emmanuel, Kenlock, Collins, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Nsiala, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Dozzell, Bishop, El Mizouni, Edwards, Dawkins, Judge, Quaner, Jackson, Keane.
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