Sunday, 23 November 2014

Brentford U18 2 v 1 Ipswich Town U18

Saturday 22nd November 2014
Professional U18 Development League 2
Jersey Road Training Ground, Osterley
Admission: Free
Programme: None
Attendance: 36 (head count)
Match Rating: 3

With arguably Charlton's biggest home league match of the season to come in the afternoon, I decided to double up today with a morning youth team game, having been encouraged by a message on Brentford's website that spectators were welcome to attend - not always the case for youth team matches of professional clubs.

The Jersey Road training complex is about a five minute walk from Osterley tube station, which is on the Piccadilly line and about a half hour's ride westwards from central London in the direction of Heathrow Airport. It is a fairly typical training ground complex, with a dozen immaculately maintained pitches in close proximity of each other, with a clubhouse just inside the entrance. There is little to be savoured here, although in fairness it was one of those days, overcast with frequent spells of drizzle, that would make places seem more unattractive than they otherwise might. This game took place on pitch 7, at the far side of the complex from the entrance, with an Under 16 game on the adjacent pitch 6, with the goals backing onto each other. One length of the pitch was roped off, and was the only area that spectators were permitted to watch from. No team sheets were prepared for this game.

Brentford came into this game top of the table, with six wins and three draws from their twelve games played, whilst Ipswich were in fifth place, having won five and drawn one of their eleven games.

The first half of this match was dominated by Brentford, and they deservedly took the lead on 35 minutes. Ellis Bellamy, son of Craig Bellamy, received the ball on the right edge of the penalty area, and pulled the goal back from the byline, and Bradley Clayton kept his cool to drive the ball low into the net. The goal sparked the game into life, as Ipswich started to look a little more threatening, forcing an excellent flying save from the Brentford keeper, although Brentford also created some good chances to extend their lead, most notably when Bellamy showed some excellent skill to jink his way through the defence into the area, only to blaze his eventual shot over the bar.

Brentford continued where they left off after the interval, continuing to dominate, although a triple substitution on 55 minutes by the visitors gave them fresh impetus. It looked a matter of time before Ipswich would equalise, which they did on 77 minutes. Sub Ronaldo Jones sent in a perfectly flighted cross from the right wing, and fellow sub Connor McLaughlin headed home at the far post from about 8 yards. The game could have gone either way in the remaining quarter of an hour, but just as it looked like the game would finish all square, Brentford keeper Nik Tzanev launched a free kick down the middle, and as the Ipswich defence hesitated and let the ball bounce, Seita Jatta stole possession, knocked the ball around the oncoming keeper, before slotting the ball into the empty net on the slide. There was little doubt Brentford deserved the lead, with the strikers looking strong and powerful throughout, and they certainly look a good bet to make the end of season play-offs.

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