Joe Mattock’s second-half screamer proved in vain as Rotherham United slipped to a narrow defeat at the hands of Brentford in Neil Redfearn’s first game in charge of the Millers.
Redfearn’s reign got off to the worst possible start as Danny Ward withdrew following an injury in the warm-up before Alan Judge netted in just the second minute of the clash but the Millers responded superbly to the early setbacks as they had the better of the proceedings either side of the interval as Mattock levelled matters with a superb long-range strike.
However, the Millers’ joy proved shortlived as Judge put the West Londoners back in charge and despite a spirited display from the visitors, they were unable to claim a share of the spoils.
Following the international break, the Millers made three changes to their starting line-up as Republic of Ireland international Paul Green returned to the visitors engine room following injury at the expense of Grant Ward, who had to settle for a substitutes berth.
Chris Maguire was handed an opportunity to impress as Joe Newell was unavailable because of injury while Ward was initially recalled to first-team action but the ex-Huddersfield striker suffered an injury in the warm-up and he was replaced by Aidy White in the starting line-up while Greg Halford was promoted to the substitutes bench after initially being omitted from the squad.
The home side fielded three former Millers loanees in their squad as John Swift was handed his first start for the ‘Bees while Toumani Diagouraga and Jack O’Connell were named amongst the substitutes.
Lee Carsley’s men were quick out of the blocks and they stunned the Millers’ travelling contingent when they broke the deadlock with their first foray of note in just the second minute when fine interplay saw Nico Yennaris skip to the byline to fire a tantalising cross which was only half-cleared by Farrend Rawson into the path of Judge, who kept his nerve to fire a controlled dipping volley from just outside the box which was inch-perfect to beat the desperate dive of Lee Camp and arch just beneath the visitors’ crossbar.
The Millers responded positively to the early setback and Maguire’s inswinging free kick saw Matt Derbyshire rise highest to glance a looping header which had David Button backtracking nervously as he tipped the ball over the bar before skipper Danny Collins headed wide from the resultant corner.
Moments later, the home fans had their hearts in their mouths when a threaded ball found Maguire with his back to goal but he cleverly worked a shooting position to fire a rasping drive from distance which whistled narrowly wide of the upright.
Just past the quarter hour, Jonson Clarke-Harris’ sweeping pass saw White jink past the attentions of Yennaris to advance into the box but his effort with his weaker right foot was straight down the throat of Button before Jake Bidwell’s underhit backpass almost saw Derbyshire sneak in but Button hacked the ball clear just in the nick of time.
In a rare foray by the home side, Alan McCormack’s mazy run and pass had the Millers’ rearguard on the backfoot and Marco Djuricin worked a yard of space but he fluffed his lines with he scooped his effort well wide of the target before the home side were thankful for Harlee Dean for a timely clearance after Derbyshire had sneaked behind the home defence to plant an inviting centre across the face of goal.
Just past the half hour mark, the home side almost doubled their lead when Swift gave a glimpse of his emerging talent when his jinking run left a trail of Millers defenders in his wake before he pulled the ball back to Djuricin, who looked a certain scorer from just yards out, but his goalbound effort was seemingly blocked en-route to goal by Camp as the ball fizzed past the upright.
Half-time:- Brentford 1 Rotherham United 0
With the words of new boss Redfearn ringing in their ears, the Millers made a lightning start to the second half and they levelled matters just 57 seconds in when Mattock pounced on a loose ball and after striding with purpose towards the home goal, he unleashed a rasping left-footed effort from distance which gathered pace as it arrowed past the outstretched hand of Button to nestle in the top corner of the goal.
Minutes later, Richie Smallwood became the first to see yellow as he upended Canos in full flight as he had previously got the better of Mattock in a tussle for possession and the home side almost made the visitors pay from the resultant free-kick when Swift almost latched onto Judge’s centre before being crowded out.
Just before the hour mark, Brentford regained their lead when Maguire conceded a free-kick deep in the home half and a long punt upfield was not cleared decisively by the Millers backline and Jake Bidwell pulled a tantalising cross back into the danger area and Judge, who had ghosted away from his marker, steered a powerful header into the roof of the visitors net.
The Millers responded bravely to the goal and Derbyshire had a glimpse of the target when he struck a low effort which Button just managed to smother to safety as the ball squirmed tantalisingly wide of the goal before the home ‘keeper was again called into action when Maguire’s free-kick was inch-perfect for the run of Green, who powered a header which brought the best of the ex-Tottenham stopper, who parried the ball to safety following a full-length dive.
Minutes later, McCormack became the next to see yellow for a clumsy tackle on Maguire by the touchline before the Bees only half-cleared Lewis Buxton’s clipped cross which paved the way for Smallwood to smash a long-range effort which whistled narrowly over the home bar.
With time running out for the visitors, the Millers were indebted to Camp for keeping them in the game as he denied Judge a hat-trick with a smart save low to his left before Diagouraga was fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a late tackle on sub Emmanuel Ledesma.
Full-time:- Brentford 2 Rotherham United 1
Teams- Brentford- Button, Bidwell, Dean, Djuricin (Hofmann 64), McCormack, Woods, Judge, Swift (Diagouraga 79), Tarkowski, Yennaris, Canos (Gogia 68). Unused- Bonham, Kerschbaumer, Vibe, O’Connell.
Rotherham- Camp, Buxton, Mattock (Ledesma 82), Collins, Maguire (Bowery 74), White (G Ward 64), Green, Clarke-Harris, Rawson, Derbyshire, Smallwood. Unused- Collin, Broadfoot, Halford, Andreu.
Referee:- I. Richardson
Attendance:- 10293 (565).