ROTHERHAM UNITED suffered their first defeat in seven games as they were edged out by play-off chasing Brentford.
Despite a strong start by the Millers’, Steve Evans’ men were undone by Stuart Dallas’ well-taken strike just before the hour.
Paul Green came closest to levelling matters late on with a point-blank header which was well-saved by home ‘keeper David Button.
Following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Bournemouth last weekend, the Millers’ made five changes to his starting line-up for the trip to London.
There were Rotherham debuts for Leicester loanee Jack Barmby and Huddersfield pair Adam Hammill and Danny Ward, who put pen to paper on temporary deals during the week while Leeds right-back Scott Wootton returned to the fray at the expense of last week’s scorer Richard Brindley.
Matt Derbyshire was entrusted with leading the line for the Millers’ as Jonson Clarke-Harris and Jordan Bowery had to be content with places on the bench.
The visitors’ had the first sight of goal when fine interplay involving Green and Derbyshire paved the way for Barmby to try his luck from distance but the ball fizzed harmlessly wide of the target.
Moments later, Ward had a speculative effort deflected over following Hammill’s pass before Barmby almost had a moment to forget when Jota’s inswinging corner saw the ex-Manchester United winger take a wild swipe in attempting to clear the ball but he failed to make contact as it whistled through the danger area.
At the other end, Derbyshire curled an effort over from the edge of the box before the ex-Forest striker advanced menacingly towards goal after being played in by Smallwood’s delicate chip over the rearguard but as he looked to strike, James Tarkowski made a superb last-ditch tackle to block his progress.
The Millers’ were looking the most likely and Hammill had home hearts’ fluttering with a dipping effort from distance which whistled past the post before Barmby’s ambitious effort failed to trouble Button moments later.
However, the visitors’ had a lucky escape when Moses Odubajo got the better of Reece James to clip an inviting ball to the far post which saw Dallas’ goalbound header strike Jonathan Douglas en-route to goal but fortunately for the Millers’, the ball bobbled narrowly wide of the target.
The home side were finding their rhythm and one-time Millers’ loanee Toumani Diagouraga played a threaded ball into Andre Gray, whose smart lay-off saw Jota strike goalwards but Icelandic international Kari Arnason was well-stationed to block his effort before Dallas’ fired a fierce effort which curled away from goal following clever set-up work by Gray and Alex Pritchard.
Just shy of the half-hour mark, Rotherham missed a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock when Barmby cleverly feigned a pass before superbly giving the on-rushing Richie Smallwood an opportunity to strike but he fluffed his lines with a tame effort which was comfortably gathered by Button.
At the other end, the Millers’ were grateful for an offside flag after Jota’s perfectly weighed pass saw Gray fire a snap effort into the bottom corner of the goal but any joy was tempered by the assistant referee.
Moments later, Pritchard showed fleet of foot to jink past the attentions of Green but despite spotting Adam Collin slightly off his line, his delicate chip from the edge of the box flew narrowly over the bar before Douglas’ had a goalbound shot blocked by a retreating defender after fine approach play from the home side.
With half-time approaching, Smallwood became the first to see yellow for a desperate lunge at Pritchard, who had raced into a gaping hole in the Rotherham defence and the Tottenham loanee almost made the Millers’ pay from the resultant free-kick with a superb curling effort which fizzed past the upright with Collin purely a spectator.
Half-time:- Brentford 0 Rotherham United 0
Following the restart, the Bees’ had faint appeals for a spot kick when Douglas’ was ushered away from the ball from skipper Craig Morgan as he looked to strike but referee Paul Tierney waved away home protests.
However, just shy of the hour mark, Brentford made the decisive breakthrough when Jake Bidwell’s flighted cross was met by the volley of Jota and although the Spaniard was crowded out on the edge of the box, Dallas pounced on the loose ball before executing a well-struck effort on the half turn which beat the outstretched hand of Collin before finding the corner of the net.
The goal sprang Rotherham into life and Derbyshire beat the attentions of his marker to fire an effort which had Button at full stretch before Hammill was the next to test the home ‘keeper with a left-footed effort from the edge of the box which was saved at the second attempt.
However, the home side missed an opportunity to double their advantage when Button’s clearance fell invitingly for Gray, who shrugged off the presence of Arnason before bearing down on goal but Collin stood up tall to block his goalbound effort and with Rotherham struggling to clear their heads, Jota blazed over with the goal at his mercy.
Moments later, Dallas’ snap shot stung the palms of Collin before Douglas looked to bulldoze his way through the rearguard but the visitors’ snuffed out the danger.
At the other end, Derbyshire’s rasping effort fizzed over the bar before the Millers’ had Wootton to thank for keeping them in the game as his last-ditch clearance prevented Douglas from tapping into an empty net following Gray’s pullback.
The Millers’ were living on the edge as Pritchard made something out of nothing to punch an effort from just outside the box which smashed against the upright.
With time running out, sub Conor Newton screwed a snap shot harmlessly wide of the target before Hammill’s mazy run on the edge of the box had the home side backtracking nervously but he was crowded out by sheer weight of numbers.
The visitors’ then came within a whisker of the equaliser when Wootton’s superb delivery from the right flank saw Green rise highest to power a point-blank header which was arrowing towards the roof of the net but Button produced a superb acrobatic save to preserve the home side’s slender lead.
In the dying minutes, sub Frazer Richardson was handily placed to hack Douglas’s fierce drive from his own line before Hammill had Rotherham’s last opportunity to level matters with a cross-cum-shot which failed to trouble the home goal.
Full-time:- Brentford 1 Rotherham United 0
Brentford- Button, Bidwell, Dean, Douglas, Odubajo, Dallas, Gray (Smith 80), Diarouraga, Pritchard, Jota (Toral 75), Tarkowski. Unused:- Bonham, Craig, Saunders, Tebar, Yennaris.
Rotherham- Collin, Arnason, Green, Morgan, Ward (Bowery 73), Hammill, Barmby (Newton 57), Derbyshire, Wootton, James (Richardson 76), Smallwood. Unused:- Loach, Wood, Pringle, Clarke-Harris.