Rotherham 3 v 0 Brentford - ReportROTHERHAM UNITED boosted their faint automatic promotion hopes by putting high-flying Brentford to the sword in a pulsating encounter at the New York Stadium.
The Millers extended their unbeaten run to 14 games after Agard struck from the spot before finishing a fantastic move to add a second on the stroke of half-time.
Sub Haris Vuckic came off the bench to add a third late in the game as the Millers closed the gap on the second-placed Londoners to seven points following the win.
Following their impressive victory over Peterborough United at the weekend, gaffer Steve Evans kept faith with his starting line-up with London Road hero Agard continuing to partner Alex Revell in attack with Nicky Adams being asked to provide the ammunition from the right hand side of midfield.
The visitors settled into the game the quicker but it was the hosts, who had the first sight of goal when Adams floated a delicate cross which was comfortably gathered by David Button.
At the other end, James Tavernier was well-stationed to snuff out a dangerous cross from Alan McCormack before Jake Reeves had home hearts’ fluttering with a fizzing effort from distance which was tipped around the post by Adam Collin.
However, the Millers were given the ideal opportunity to make the breakthrough on 14 minutes when fine interplay from the home side paved the way for Adams to hook the ball to the right flank where Tavernier cleverly cut inside Alan Judge, who left a trailing leg whereby the Newcastle loanee was felled and the referee after initial hesitation over whether the foul was committed in the box pointed to the spot.
Agard stepped up to take the spot-kick and he kept his nerve to send Button the wrong way in sliding the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
The home side were buoyed by the breakthrough and following another incisive move, Tavernier’s slide-rule pass gave Ben Pringle, a sight of goal and after working a yard of space on his marker, he curled an effort from the edge of the box into the grateful hands of Button.
Just shy of the half hour mark, Adams curled a delightful cross which saw Revell get a run on his jump to tower over McCormack but his bullet header narrowly cleared the crossbar.
In a rare foray by the visitors, Reeves tried his luck from distance and his rasping effort took a wicked deflection off the retreating Arnason but the ball looped over the bar.
After Tony Craig was harshly adjudged to have bundled over Agard on the edge of the box, the Millers came within a whisker of doubling their advantage when Tavernier curled a superb free-kick which sailed over the Brentford wall before crashing against the outside of the post with Button anxiously scurrying across goal.
Minutes later, Brentford failed to deal with a knockdown from Revell in the box and Adams fired an instinctive effort from an acute angle which fizzed across the face of goal but failed to trouble Button.
With half-time approaching, Marcello Trotta drilled a low effort which stung the palms of Collin before Agard fired a snap shot from the edge of the box which was bravely blocked by a retreating visitors’ defender.
However, the Millers took a stranglehold on the encounter when they extended their lead as the half drew to a close.
A superb move saw the home side work a position on the edge of the box and Pringle played an eye-of-a-needle pass into the path of Adams, who calmly ushered the ball into the path of the on-rushing Agard, who stroked the ball past the outstretched hand of Button before it nestled in the roof of the visitors’ net.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 2 Brentford 0
Following the restart, Rotherham launched a lightning counter-attack and Adams left McCormack in his wake before skipping to the byline to stand a cross to the far stick which Revell headed into the danger area but Agard was unable to turn the ball goalwards as he was crowded out by a number of visiting defenders.
The home side felt aggrieved when Lee Frecklington’s speculative punt upfield saw Agard in a footrace with Button, who raised his foot to clear the danger, with the Rotherham staff proclaiming the ex-Spurs ‘keeper had done so illegally but the referee waved away home protests.
Minutes later, Joe Skarz’s clearance saw Adams break the visitors’ offside trap but despite cutting inside Jake Bidwell, he was unable to get his shot away before Agard came within inches of claiming the matchball when Adams drilled a fantastic centre which saw the ex-Yeovil striker climb highest but his powerful header from point-blank range shaved the crossbar.
Just past the hour mark, Arnason was unnecessarily cautioned when he kicked the ball out of the stadium after Brentford were caught offside.
With twenty minutes remaining, the visitors had their best effort to date when Judge’s fine cross to the far post gave Jonathan Douglas an opportunity to power a header goalwards and although Collin spilled the effort, Craig Morgan was on-hand to blast the ball clear.
At the other end, Pringle’s quick corner caught the visitors’ napping and Tavernier paved the way for Frecklington to strike goalwards but his curling effort fizzed narrowly wide of the target.
With time running out for the visitors, Clayton Donaldson worked an opening out of nothing to fire over the bar from the edge of the box before the Millers wasted an opportunity to notch a third when Adams latched onto a throughball from Revell to advance menacingly on goal but he dragged his effort wide of the target when he should have done better.
Craig became the latest to see yellow when he tripped Adams in full flow before Frecklington joined him in the book for lashing out at McCormack, after the visiting player took a theatrical tumble to earn a free-kick.
The Millers put the icing on the cake with a third in injury time when sub Vuckic picked up possession just inside the box and after cleverly working a shooting position, his right-footed effort sneaked in at the near post with Button wrongfooted.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 3 Brentford 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Tavernier, Arnason, Morgan, Skarz, N Adams, Smallwood, Frecklington, Pringle (Milsom 88), Revell, Agard (Vuckic 90). Unused:- Shearer, Davis, M O’Connor, Addison, Hitchcock.
Brentford- Button, Forshaw (Yennaris 66), Craig, Dean, Douglas, Donaldson, McCormack, Judge (C Adams 87), Reeves, Bidwell, Trotta (Grigg 75). Unused:- Lee, K O’Connor, Dallas, Tarkowski.
Referee:- G Eltringham