2017-18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Neal Maupay (72' PEN)

Brentford maintain play-off hopes

Brentford kept their slim play-off hopes alive with a hard fought 1-0 win over Ipswich thanks to top scorer Neal Maupay's second half penalty.
The French striker sent Blues goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski the wrong way from the spot after Jonas Knudson's needless shove on Sergi Canos after 72 minutes.
Maupay's 12th goal of the season from the spot always looked like being the decider in a scrappy game marred by a series of niggly challenges.
Ipswich's misery was compounded when they lost centre-back Luke Chambers to injury inside 20 minutes after a collision with the Blues keeper, to be replaced by Myles Kenlock.
The first reunion of Bees midfielder Alan Judge and Luke Hyam, who broke his leg in a horror tackle at Portman Road two years ago, saw the pair rarely clash in a stop-start affair.
Mick McCarthy's side always looked happy to sit back and hit Brentford on the break and it was a tactic that almost reaped rewards despite a dogged Bees rearguard.
The hosts' Yoann Barbet was first to hit the target, forcing Bialkowski to tip his angled drive wide after 10 minutes.
Losing Chambers minutes later did not affect the visitors' and they continued to bank up on the edge of their area and invite the Bees to unlock them, while Connolly's speculative effort which flew just over the bar gave the Londoners something to think about as they pressed for the opener.
Dean Smith's side's best chance came on the half hour, a quickly taken Barbet free-kick finding Romaine Sawyers, who chested it down and sent his half volley on the run fizzing just past the far post.
Adam Webster tried to respond at the other end minutes later but sliced well wide after a two-minute spell of concerted pressure from the Tractor Boys.
Judge almost had the perfect response to Hyam and his team-mates just before the break - but his fierce dipping drive was parried clear by Bialkowski into the path of Maupay, who could only divert it over.
Connolly thought he had given the visitors the lead almost on the whistle but his backheeled effort was ruled out for handball in the build-up.
At the finale of an open but scrappy first half, Ollie Watkins should have done better when he got a sight of goal - but his side-footed effort lacked the power to trouble the Town keeper.
After the break Martyn Waghorn was first to show, racing clear and firing in a low drive that Daniel Bentley did well to tip round the near post.
The penalty changed the game and Ipswich began to press more - and Bentley knew little about his point-blank stop that denied Grant Ward's thundering volley in the dying minutes.
Brentford, who moved up a place and stay five points adrift of the play offs, had the final word though when Canos' measured shot forced a full length stop from Bialkowski.

English League Championship Standings

1 Norwich City 24 +12 50
2 Swansea City 24 +16 46
3 AFC Bournemouth 24 +18 42
4 Brentford 22 +15 41
5 Watford 23 +10 40
6 Reading 23 +6 40
7 Middlesbrough 23 +9 36
8 Stoke City 24 +4 36
9 Bristol City 23 +1 36
10 Barnsley 24 -4 34
11 Blackburn Rovers 24 +11 33
12 Luton Town 24 -5 33
13 Preston North End 24 -3 32
14 Huddersfield Town 24 -6 31
15 Cardiff City 23 +3 29
16 Millwall 23 -4 26
17 Coventry City 23 -9 26
18 Birmingham City 24 -11 26
19 Nottingham Forest 24 -8 25
20 Queens Park Rangers 23 -8 24
21 Sheffield Wednesday 23 -8 19
22 Rotherham United 21 -9 19
23 Derby County 23 -11 19
24 Wycombe Wanderers 23 -19 15