ALAN Stubbs earned his first victory at the Rotherham helm as Danny Ward’s first-half strike proved the difference against Brentford.
In an enthralling encounter at the AESSEAL New York Stadium, Ward latched onto Scott Allan’s perfect through ball before calmly stroking the ball past Daniel Bentley in the game’s decisive moment.
Following their midweek defeat at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion, the Millers made three changes to their starting line-up for the visit of the Londoners.
The Millers faithful were given their first glimpses of recent recruits Tom Adeyemi and Izzy Brown, who joined the club from Cardiff and Chelsea respectively, on season-long loans.
Playmaker Allan was also given an opportunity to impress in the No.10 position as Joe Mattock, Anthony Forde and Richie Smallwood had to settle for berths on the substitutes bench.
Following a slow start by both sides, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Jon Taylor fought hard to win a corner which paved the way for Allan to float a delightful centre which saw Dominic Ball rise highest to plant a downward header towards goal but the referee adjudged the ex-Tottenham defender had climbed illegally.
Moments later, Brown pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box to fire goalwards but Ryan Woods bravely blocked his effort before Woods turned creator in Brentford’s first foray of note. The Bees midfielder clipped a delicate pass which saw Maxime Colin race clear down the right flank before picking out the advancing run of Lasse Vibe, who carefully stroked a low effort which whistled past the home upright.
The Danish forward, who was recently part of his national side’s Olympic squad, then threaded a pass which gave Hogan a sight of goal but his effort failed to trouble the target before Ball’s timely tackle prevented the ex-Rochdale striker shooting goalwards in the Bees’ next attack.
Hogan was in the thick of the action but the highly-rated striker lost his footing as he looked to shoot after being put clear by Romaine Sawyers before Rotherham came within a whisker of the opener on 22 minutes.
Vibe was caught in possession by Brown, who showed fleet of foot to race through the static Brentford defence and the England youth international struck an effort which was deflected by Daniel Bentley and the ball tantalisingly spun towards goal to strike the underside of the visitors crossbar before falling to safety.
The game was swinging end to end and Ward fired over from the edge of the box before the AESSEAL New York Stadium faithful had their hearts in their mouths when Lewis Macleod curled a delightful effort from the edge of the box which shaved the home upright.
Just past the half hour mark, the Millers took the game by the scruff of the neck with the opening goal when Adeyemi started a move on halfway to plant the ball at the feet of Allan, whose perfectly-weighted pass put Ward in the clear as he beat the offside trap and the ex-Huddersfield striker kept his composure to calmly slide the ball past the advancing Bentley into the bottom corner of the visitors net.
The visitors responded positively to the setback and Macleod exchanged passes with Nico Yennaris to strike goalwards but Will Vaulks put his body on the line to deflect his effort wide before John Egan rose highest from the resultant corner but Lee Camp was well-stationed to smother his point-blank header.
At the other end, Ward was inches away from meeting Taylor’s mouth watering centre from the right flank with the goal at his mercy before Kelvin Wilson had to be on his toes to divert Macleod’s centre to safety with Hogan lurking for a tap in.
Half-time- Rotherham United 1 Brentford 0
The visitors were quick out of the blocks at the second half and Sawyers’ slide-rule pass gave Macleod a glimpse of goal as the ex-Rangers midfielder curled an effort which looped narrowly wide of the target before Wilson’s timely intervention prevented Hogan from baring down on goal in the next phase of play.
Hogan was proving a threat for the visitors and a snappy one-two with Vibe saw the Bees frontman strike an effort which forced Camp into a reflex save before Brown showed his class with a superb piece of skill from Ball’s diagonal pass which outfoxed Colin but the ball skipped off the wet surface into the grateful hands of Bentley.
Just past the hour mark, Vibe headed harmlessly wide of the target from Callum Elder’s hooked cross before Smallwood became the first to see yellow following a lunge on Woods.
Colin soon joined him in the book for hauling over Ward as Rotherham looked to counter quickly and Allan almost made them pay from the resultant free-kick when his hanging centre swirled in the wind but a backtracking Bentley managed to keep the ball out.
Brentford introduced a familiar face to their ranks as ex-Miller Emmanuel Ledesma joined the fray and the Argentine winger almost came back to haunt his former club with a delicate cross which was inch-perfect for Hogan, who steered a header back across goal but fortunately for the home side, the ball grazed the outside of the upright.
Minutes later, Woods’ deflected effort forced Camp into a sprawling save before Taylor almost raced clear to ease home nerves but a timely tackle by a retreating defender halted his progress.
In stoppage time, Ledesma brought the best out of Camp with a low drive which flew through a ruck of bodies to leave the Rotherham stopper unsighted but he managed to palm the ball to safety before sub Sam Saunders headed over from the resultant corner in the last action of the game.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 1 Brentford 0
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Rotherham- Camp, Kelly, Vaulks, Ward, Taylor, Ball, Wilson, Fisher, Allan (Forde 84), Adeyami (Smallwood 46), Brown (Mattock 88). Unused- Price, Wood, Forster-Caskey, Yates
Brentford- Bentley, Colin, Elder, Macleod (Saunders 58), Dean, Yennaris, Hogan, Egan, Woods, Sawyers (Ledesma 77), Vibe (McEachran 84) Unused- Kurasik, Bjelland, Kerschbaumer, Clarke.
Referee- J Adcock
Attendance- 8367 (459).