It was a story of what might have been for Brentford as they conceded a dubious goal and failed to take advantage of their domination of territory and possession to lose to a single goal against Rotherham United. The Bees had control almost from start to finish but Rotherham scored when they had a good spell and defended superbly. Brentford could not quite find the right pass in the final third or get the bit of luck they needed in front of goal to earn a share of the spoils, which would have been the least they deserved.
Rotherham were on the front foot from the first whistle, winning a corner – which came to nothing – inside the first 30 seconds. The hosts looked to press Brentford when The Bees had the ball in defensive areas. The visitors were forced deeper and deeper when they tried to keep the ball in their own half and Rotherham probably had the territorial advantage in the first 15 minutes. They also had the first chance of note when a half cleared corner dropped to Izzy Brown but his shot was blocked.
Brentford did not abandon their principles in the face of Rotherham’s tactics. They looked to play through midfield and when they were able to find Nico Yennaris and, in particular, Ryan Woods in space they looked like creating chances. Two or three times in the first 15 minutes there were opportunities for a crucial final pass or cross that came and went but as the game headed past the quarter hour, Brentford looked the most likely team to score.
Lasse Vibe came within a whisker of that first goal when he pulled a Maxime Colin cut back inches past the far post. Scott Hogan also went close when he shot wide after a nice turn and when Colin went down the right again soon after, the same player had a shot blocked. As Vibe went to block the clearance, it cannoned off him and flew over the crossbar. Will Vaulks fired over for the hosts but Brentford had the initiative and wanted the lead to go with it. They should have scored when a quick break involving Vibe and Yennaris led to Romaine Sawyers squaring to Hogan ten yards out but his legs became tangled, he slipped and the chance disappeared.
Rotherham almost made Brentford pay for that when Brown robbed Vibe 30 yards out and sped through a gap in the defence, he was left with only Daniel Bentley to beat but the Brentford goalkeeper spread himself and tipped the shot on to the crossbar and over. From the resulting corner, Tom Adeyemi headed down and Danny Ward fired over on the turn. Macleod curled a shot just over for The Bees before Rotherham took the lead with a controversial goal. Ward got away from the Brentford defence and on to a Scott Allan pass, the striker looked like he might have been offside but was allowed to go on and slotted low past Bentley to open the scoring.
It could have been two as Ward was inches away from turning home a Jon Taylor cross but Brentford responded well to going behind and pressed forward. The home side sat deeper as half time approached and it looked a little like a siege in the later stages of the first period. Macleod saw a shot deflect over the bar after great interplay with Yennaris cut Rotherham’s midfield apart and from the resulting corner Lee Camp saved a John Egan header. Hogan missed his kick when he found space from another Macleod corner soon after and when it was recycled an Egan shot was blocked. Macleod also had a shot blocked following a short corner in first half stoppage time as Rotherham hung on to their lead until the break.
The game continued in a similar pattern after half time. Brentford continued to attack and while Rotherham had some menace on the break, they were largely happy to defend. Macleod lifted an effort just past the post and a Woods shot deflected wide before Hogan exchanged passes with Vibe following a quick break and fired straight at Camp. Egan should have levelled when he met a Macleod corner unmarked ten yards out but he headed wide and a shot from substitute Sam Saunders deflected fortunately in to the arms of Camp soon after.
The pattern of the second half was now established. It was attack against defence as Brentford knocked on the door but failed to find a way through a well-drilled back line. Vibe headed a Saunders cross wide before a corner from Emmanuel Ledesma was scrambled away. When the winger returned the ball back in, Hogan found space but directed his header a fraction wide.
A deep free kick from Allan nearly resulted in a lucky second for Rotherham but a combination of Bentley and the crossbar kept it out. Taylor also had a shot blocked late in the half but all the action was at the other end. Vibe blasted well over after talking a Saunders pass and a curling shot from Woods was pushed past the post by Camp after taking a deflection. Camp then saved well from Ledesma and Saunders flicked a header over. And eventually, Brentford ran out of time. They just couldn’t find a way through and had to head home with nothing to show for their efforts.
Rotherham United: Camp; Fisher, Ball, Wilson, Kelly; Taylor, Adeyemi (sub Smallwood h/t), Vaulks, Brown (sub Mattock 88 mins); Allan (sub Forde 84 mins); Ward
Subs (not used): Price, Wood, Forster-Caskey, Yates
Bookings: Smallwood (70 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Colin, Dean, Egan, Elder; Woods, Yennaris; Vibe (sub McEachran 84 mins), Sawyers (sub Ledesma 76 mins), Macleod (sub Saunders 58 mins); Hogan
Subs (not used): Kurasik, Bjelland, Kerschbaumer, Clarke
Bookings: Colin (74 mins) (second of season)
Attendance: 8,367 (459 Bees fans)