Millers slip to heavy defeat...
ROTHERHAM United’s Championship return ended in defeat at the hands of highly-fancied Brentford, who cruised to an opening day victory at Griffin Park.
The Millers were given a mountain to climb early on when Neal Maupay tapped home before Sergi Canos doubled the Bees lead, on the stroke of half-time.
Following the break, Ollie Watkins effectively sealed the deal with a well-taken third. Maupay and Lewis Macleod added further goals for the home side before Will Vaulks fired home a late consolation goal – in a sobering afternoon for Paul Warne’s side.
The Millers boss handed a second Rotherham debut to ‘keeper Marek Rodak, who re-signed for the club on a season long-loan from Fulham while Zak Vyner was given a chance in the right-back slot, following his close season arrival, on the same terms, from Bristol City.
Fellow new recruits Clark Robertson, Kyle Vassell, Sean Raggett and Billy Jones were named among the substitutes at Griffin Park – with Warne employing a 4-4-1-1 formation in the capital.
In the opening minutes, the breakdown of a Rotherham free-kick led to a lightning counter attack from the home side involving Sergi Canos and Maupay but fortunately for the Millers, Watkins was adjudged offside, as he lined up a shot.
However, the visitors failed to heed the warning as the home side broke the deadlock, in their next attack, on four minutes when Brentford switched play to great effect and the ball found Yoann Bardet, who played a delicious ball across the face of goal and Macleod got on the wrong side of his marker, to divert the ball goalwards forcing Rodak into a reflex save but the ball fell kindly for Maupay, who made no mistake to tap home into the unguarded goal.
The Millers early frustration boiled over when skipper Richard Wood became the first to see yellow for hauling back the lively Watkins and the home side almost punished Rotherham to the full from the resultant free-kick, when an innocuous ball into the box was met by Maupay, who failed to make a clean connection but Chris Mepham was the quickest to react to the loose ball, as he looked to turn the ball home but Rodak was on his toes, to block his goalbound effort en-route to goal before the ball was diverted to safety.
Minutes later, Watkins left Vyner in his wake with a clever piece of skill and the ex-Exeter City striker bared down on goal but Semi Ajayi struck out a timely leg to divert his shot to safety before Rotherham were caught napping, from the resultant corner, and Romaine Sawyers took aim with a powerful drive, from just outside the box, which Rodak appeared to get a hand to, as it smashed against the crossbar, before being belatedly cleared by the Rotherham rearguard.
Minutes later, Bardet got the better of Matty Palmer near the touchline before firing a cross which struck the body of Will Vaulks – with the home fans and players vainly appealing for a spot kick before a training ground corner from Macleod presented Sawyers with the chance to volley goalwards, from the edge of the box, but Wood bravely put his body on the line to keep the ball out.
In the Millers first attacking foray of note, the Bees were indebted to Daniel Bentley for preserving their lead when good work involving David Ball and Michael Smith in the build-up paved the way for Palmer to clip a cross which was met superbly by Joe Newell, on his weaker right foot, and the ball was arrowing into the heart of the home goal until the ex-Southend stopper intervened with a superb, acrobatic save, which saw the ball palmed over the goal.
The Millers were heartened by the move and Wood embarked on a marauding run from the back which ended when David Ball was upended on the edge of the box by Mepham but the pressure was released on the hosts from Jon Taylor’s resultant free-kick – with the referee penalising the visitors, before Newell could get his shot away.
In the dying minutes of the half, Canos left Joe Mattock grasping at thin air before drilling a cross which Rodak initially kept out before Ajayi scrambled the ball clear via the body of Mattock. In the aftermath of the attack, Vaulks incurred the wrath of the referee, seemingly with a wrong word or two, to earn a yellow card.
However, Canos was in the thick of the action and Brentford took a firm grip on the game in the next phase of play when Macleod drilled a short corner into the path of Spanish playmaker, who had ghosted away from his marker, before powering an effort into the heart of the Millers goal giving a motionless Rodak, no chance.
Half-time:- Brentford 2 Rotherham United 0
The afternoon went from bad to worse for the Millers, just minutes into the second half, when Vaulks failed to take charge in the middle of the park and Maupay pounced on the hesitation to inject pace into a move to find Watkins, who worked a yard of space on Vyner, before striking a fierce left-footed effort, which struck the underside of the crossbar before finding the Rotherham goal.
Moments later, Warne’s side came within a coat of paint of reducing the arrears when Newell curled a tantalising corner into the danger area and Wood towered above his marker to plant a header which had Bentley nervously scurrying across goal, but the ball shaved the wrongside of the upright.
At the other end, Henrik Dalsgaard threaded a ball which was flicked on by Sawyers into the path of Maupay, who under pressure from Vyner, could only scoop the ball into the grateful hands of Rodak before Vyner went up the other end to deliver an inviting centre which was met by the head of Vaulks, but Bentley plucked his header out of the sky.
Minutes later, Canos continued to pull the strings and he forced Rodak into a smothered save with a low drive from distance before Newell clipped a lovely ball over the top which saw Smith in a footrace with Mepham and the Millers frontman got their first to unleash a fierce effort which was blocked by the home defender.
On the hour mark, Brentford rubbed salt into Rotherham wounds with a fourth goal when Macleod waltzed into the visitors’ box to drill a low effort which was parried by Rodak into the path of Maupay, who was alert to the rebound to tap home his second goal of the afternoon.
Minutes later, Maupay almost sneaked in around the back before Watkins’s slide rule pass gave Sawyers the chance to fire a low footed effort, from the edge of the box, which stung the palms of Rodak.
At the other end, Mattock delivered an outswinging cross which was inch-perfect for the head of sub Vassell, who almost crowned his Rotherham debut with a goal, but Bentley showed fleet of foot to keep his downward header out.
To their credit, the Millers refused to throw in the towel and Vassell made something out of nothing to strike a fierce effort which initially squirmed out of the hands of Bentley, who picked up the pieces, at the second attempt.
In the next Millers attack, Vassell was felled by Mepham on the edge of the box but Taylor failed to make it count from the resultant free-kick when his curling effort sailed harmlessly over.
In a day to forget for the Millers, Brentford added a fifth goal when sub Alan Judge tried to bulldoze his way into the box and although the Irishman’s run was halted, Macleod latched onto the loose ball to fire a low effort which beat the outstretched hand of Rodak to find the bottom corner of the net.
Despite the deficit, Rotherham had the final say when Brentford failed to clear their lines and Vaulks showed his shooting prowess with a superb long range effort which flew past Bentley to find the home goal and give the large travelling Millers contingent something to cheer – on a disappointing afternoon for all those concerned.
Full-time- Brentford 5 Rotherham United 1
Rotherham United 1
Teams:- Brentford- Bentley, Macleod, Mepham, Canos (Benrahma 68), Maupay (Judge 68), McEachran, Watkins (Mokotjo 80), Sawyers, Dalsgaard, Konsa, Barbet. Unused- Daniels, Yennaris, Clarke, Jeanvier.
Rotherham- Rodak, Vyner, Mattock, Vaulks, Ajayi, Wood, Palmer, Ball (Vassell 57), Taylor, Newell (Williams 71), Smith (Wiles 67). Unused- Price, Robertson, Raggett, Jones.
Referee- O Langford