ROTHERHAM United slipped to a disappointing defeat at the hands of fellow promoted outfit Brentford- despite striking the woodwork twice in the first-half.
The Millers came within a whisker of drawing first blood when Kirk Broadfoot and man of the match Paul Taylor had efforts which rattled the bar and they were made to pay when Andre Gray struck on the stroke of half-time.
With the game on a knife-edge, sub Nick Proschwitz made sure the points made their way back to the capital when he tapped home from close range in injury-time.
Following their polished performance at Millwall last weekend, the Millers made just two changes to their league starting line-up with ex-Forest poacher Matt Derbyshire returning to the starting eleven at the expense of Ipswich loanee Anthony Wordsworth, who dropped to the bench as gaffer Steve Evans reverted to a 4-4-2 formation.
The home side were dealt a blow in the build-up to the game when talisman Craig Morgan was ruled out because of an ankle injury paving the way for ex-Owl Richard Wood to make his first league start at the heart of the Millers’ rearguard with Lee Frecklington taking the captain’s armband.
The visitors had the first sight of goal when a lucky ricochet on halfway fell invitingly for Gray, who showed the home defence a clean pair of heels before firing an early shot which was parried to safety by a quick footed Adam Collin, who initially looked to have misjudged his whereabouts as he backtracked to goal.
In a quick opening, the Millers came within a whisker of the breakthrough with their first foray of note when Kari Arnason’s bullet throw into the box saw Broadfoot climb highest to power a header which cannoned against the upright and the ball rebounded to Ben Pringle, who nodded goalwards from point-blank range but ‘keeper David Button was quick on his feet to smother the ball from his own line.
The home side had their hearts in their mouths when Stuart Dallas ghosted past Broadfoot with a minimum of fuss before pulling the ball back into the path of Alan Judge, who appeared to fall under the challenge of Frecklington in the box but referee Stuart Attwell waved away visiting appeals for a spot-kick.
Following the scare, the Millers turned defence into attack with the blink of an eye with a swift counter attack and Paul Taylor’s inch-perfect pass bisected the visitors’ defence giving Derbyshire a run of goal but his cross-cum-shot failed to trouble the away goal.
Moments later, Taylor tried his luck from distance but his daisycutter failed to trouble Button before Alex Pritchard’s inviting free-kick saw James Tarkowski glance a header harmlessly wide at the other end.
In an enthralling opening, Frecklington had to be on-hand with a timely tackle to prevent a lightning Brentford counter attack which had the Millers’ short of numbers initially before Rotherham swept forward moments later and Taylor’s snap cross was not cleared decisively by the visitors’ defence and Pringle had time to weigh up his options before firing a goalbound effort which was blocked on-route to goal by Jake Bidwell.
Minutes later, Taylor’s eye-of-a-needle pass gave Derbyshire a shooting opportunity and the ex-Olympiakos striker blazed an effort narrowly over the bar before Judge’s delicate ball over the top caught the Millers’ defence square and Pritchard powered a header over when he should have done better.
With neither side on top, Jota Peleteiro dragged a skimming effort from distance wide before the Spaniard turned provider in the next phase of play when his cute corner caught the home side napping but Judge failed to make them pay with a tame effort.
Just past the half-hour mark, Alex Revell’s clever flick-on almost put Derbyshire in the clear but he could not get the ball under his spell before the hitman missed a gilt-edged chance to put the Millers’ ahead when Taylor had the visitors’ in a spin before floating a superb cross into the path of the unmarked striker, who misjudged his header despite no pressure around him.
At the other end, the lively Peleteiro had the home side on the backfoot with a marauding run before playing a slide-rule pass which saw Andre Gray get on the wrongside of Arnason before being appealed to be hauled back by the Icelandic international but Attwell again failed to point to the spot despite vociferous appeals from the Londoners.
With half-time approaching, the home side came within inches of the opening goal when Frecklington’s threaded pass found Taylor on the edge of the box, who worked a yard of space on his marker before striking a fierce effort which smashed against the crossbar before rolling to safety.
The Millers’ woes continued moments later when Brentford took the lead in first-half stoppage time.
Frecklington’s weak header on halfway saw the Londoners sweep forward and Judge advanced menacingly towards the Millers’ defensive line before playing a timely pass which saw Gray judge his run to perfection to avoid the offside trap and despite facing an acute angle and the last-gasp attentions of Wood, he struck a superb effort which arrowed into the top corner and went in off the post giving Collin no chance.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Brentford 1
Following the restart, the visitors were quick out of the blocks and after promptings in and around the home box, Pritchard fired a rasping effort which had Collin at full stretch before the Bees launched the ball upfield following a Rotherham attack and Richie Smallwood’s wayward header paved the way for the Tottenham loanee to torment Joe Skarz before screwing an effort wide of the target.
Just shy of the hour mark, Rotherham spurned a superb opportunity to equalise when Collin’s punt upfield saw Tarkowski miscue his attempted clearance and Derbyshire pounced on the error to advance on goal but with just Button to beat, his tame effort was blocked by the legs of the visiting ‘keeper.
With 20 minutes to go, Smallwood worked hard to win possession on halfway before giving Pringle the opportunity to curl a delightful cross which saw sub Jordan Bowery climb highest but his header failed to trouble the target.
Button became the first to see yellow when he took too long for the liking of the referee to restart play before the visitors missed a great opportunity to double their advantage when Dallas’ timely offload saw Judge skip to the byline before playing an inviting cross for Gray, who looked certain to make it two but he couldn’t direct the ball goalwards from close range.
With the game in the balance, Bowery and Broadfoot combined on the right flank to good effect paving the way for the former to fire a deflected cross which spun invitingly into the path of Taylor on the edge of the box, who calmly stroked a volley towards the bottom corner forcing Button into a smart flying save.
Minutes later, Pringle’s clever pass saw Smallwood jink past his marker on the edge of the box before fizzing an effort which stung the palms of Button before Pritchard’s fantastic cross saw Proschwitz come within inches of sealing the game for the capital side.
With time running out, Wood rose highest from Pringle’s corner but he couldn’t control his header before Taylor’s mazy run had the Bees at sixes and sevens but he was crowded out as he looked to shoot goalwards.
The home side were running out of ideas and after Pritchard struck a free-kick which hit the side netting, the Londoners sealed the deal in second-half stoppage time when sub Jon Toral showed fleet of foot to waltz past a couple of half-hearted home challengers and after drawing Collin from his line, his perfectly weighted pass across the six-yard box gave fellow sub Proschwitz the simple task of tapping into the unguarded goal.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 Brentford 2
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Skarz, Arnason, Broadfoot, Wood, Frecklington (Wordsworth 46), Revell (Bowery 55), Pringle, Taylor, Derbyshire (Brandy 67), Smallwood. Unused:- Loach, Brindley, Newton, Swift.
Brentford- Button, Bidwell, Dean, Douglas, McCormack, Dallas, Judge, Gray (Toral 82), Pritchard, Peleteiro (Hogan 67, Proschwitz 82), Tarkowski. Unused:- Lee, Craig, Tebar, Diagouraga.
Referee:- Stuart Attwell
Attendance:- 9016 (611).