Two goals from Kamohelo Mokotjo set Brentford on their way to their first away win of the Sky Bet Championship season, completing a double over Rotherham United in the process. Mokotjo scored the first and the third of Brentford’s four goals in South Yorkshire as they picked up all three points with a 4-2 victory. Saïd Benrahma scored Brentford’s second and a customary goal from Neal Maupay sealed the win late on.
The victory was one that was fully merited by The Bees. While they might not have played the scintillating football they did in the 5-1 win over the same opponents in August, they created the baulk of the chances and controlled the game for long periods. Rotherham levelled at 1-1 in the first half and 2-2 in the second but were limited to counter-attacking football and playing for set pieces. Those created problems for The Bees but the visitors did enough to get the win.
The game could not have started better for The Bees, scoring with their first attack. Rico Henry received the ball on the left and nutmegged Zak Vyner with a pass that isolated Benrahma against Semi Ajayi. The Brentford wide man twisted his way past the defender and cut the ball back to the edge of the penalty area where Mokotjo arrived to stroke a shot home from 18 yards. The ball whistled past goalkeeper Marek Rodák and Brentford were ahead before two minutes had elapsed.
That should have been a platform for Brentford to build on and while they dominated possession, they failed to take complete control of the game. Romaine Sawyers and Mokotjo had space to play in midfield but Rotherham held a deep and solid defensive line and The Bees largely had the ball in front of them. Henry and Henrik Dalsgaard tried to add to the attack in wide areas, but The Bees were unable to create much.
Rotherham seemed content to let The Bees have the ball for long periods and look to break. Wide men Jon Taylor and Anthony Forde tried to use the space on the flanks and they had the support of their full backs. They did not create much but a cross from Forde narrowly eluded Michael Smith and when the ball was recycled a shot from Will Vaulks flew straight at Daniel Bentley.
When Rotherham equalised 20 minutes in, it was not completed unexpected, albeit a goal that came almost out of nothing. Brentford failed to get a corner from the right fully away and Taylor got on to it on the edge of the box, he created half a yard and whistled a shot from 20 yards in to the net. Bentley would not have seen much through a crowd of bodies as the ball flew past him to level the scores.
Brentford responded well to the goal. They continued to dominate possession but the tempo went up a notch and they started to find space in Rotherham territory, with Dalsgaard and Henry getting further forward. Maupay saw a shot blocked and there was good defensive work from Ajayi to prevent Ollie Watkins getting on to the loose ball. A Dalsgaard flick then released Watkins on the right and he tried to find Maupay, but Clark Robertson came across to prevent the Brentford striker getting a shot away.
A Yoann Barbet flick from a low corner was scrambled away and Benrahma struck a shot over from 25 yards as the half drew to a close, but it was the home side who should have gone it ahead at the break. A long throw was half cleared and when Vaulks delivered the cross, Robertson met it with a powerful header that Bentley saved superbly. The ball dropped loose and Ajayi somehow contrived to screw it wide from four yards with the goal gaping.
Taylor also missed a good chance for the hosts as the game opened up in the dying moments of the half when a cross reached him at the far post, but he screwed a first-time shot wide. Robertson headed another long throw off target and Rodák saved from Benrahma as both teams pressed in the later stages. But neither could find a second goal before the interval.
Brentford had played well in stages before the break but had lacked tempo at times and their spells of possession had, often, been in front of a well-drilled Rotherham defence. But The Bees went up a gear after the interval. Sawyers, in particular, was higher up the pitch, looking to play the final pass and Brentford were immediately creating chances.
Maupay almost scored a spectacular goal within two minutes of the restart when he killed a long Barbet pass with one touch and, without breaking stride, poked a shot inches wide with his next. Rodák was well beaten and the shot might have clipped the outside of the post as it rolled wide. Watkins had a shot blocked on the turn when he got on to a Henry cross soon after and within eight minutes of the break, Brentford were ahead.
The goal came after another long spell of possession with the home side unable to do anything to stop Brentford building. The ball was eventually worked to the inside right area and an incisive pass from Watkins found Sawyers, he shaped to shoot and fooled the defenders with his eyes as he picked out Benrahma 15 yards out and the finish was low and true. Benrahma’s shot gave Rodák no chance and he had his second goal in two games.
It could have been even better moments later as Benrahma exchanged passes with Watkins but shot wide from 20 yards. And Brentford continued to build. With Sawyers and Mokotjo dominating the centre of the pitch, they controlled the game, looking to create the chances to put the game to bed. Henry got away on the left in one attack and fired across the face of goal as Brentford went for the jugular.
But Rotherham were still in the contest. They had been rocking at the start of the second half but stayed in the game and had an ever-present danger when they threw the ball in to the penalty area. A deep cross from the left was nodded down by Smith for Ben Wiles to see a shot deflected wide and the resulting corner was met powerfully by Robertson but headed straight at Bentley.
When they equalised with 17 minutes to go, it came from another set piece. A long throw from the left flew across the penalty area and ended up at the far side. It came back in to the box and was met by Robertson before taking a deflection and rolling past Bentley. The home announcer gave the goal to the Rotherham defender but it was officially, unlucky, given as an Ezri Konsa own goal.
After leading twice and dominating most of the game, that second goal could have knocked Brentford out. Instead, within seconds, The Bees were back in front. Watkins played a one two and fed Henry on the left, he cut the ball back to the arriving Mokotjo – who had played the earlier exchange – and he slotted pasty Rodák to restore the lead. The midfield man played his part to perfection twice, both with the one-two and the finish, and celebrated the goal that knocked the stuffing out of Rotherham.
The home side tried to respond, and Taylor had a shot blocked, but Brentford had the crucial lead. That block led to a break that should been a fourth goal. Watkins delayed a pass that would have put Maupay clear of the defence but when the ball did eventually reach the French striker via Sergi Canós, he still only had Rodák to beat. The shot was lifted over the goalkeeper but bounced inches past the post.
Canós had a shot blocked after getting another incisive pass from Henry and tested Rodák with a low effort soon after. Maupay then stung the palms of the goalkeeper when he spun and fired in a fierce shot when a Dalsgaard throw in bounced over Robertson. And with those chances not taken Ajayi could have levelled when he met a cross from Jerry Yates, but he steered the header wide.
With five minutes to go Brentford didn’t have the game won but then Maupay had his say. Watkins fed Henry on the right and the ball went on to Canós, he fed Maupay and the striker flicked it past Robertson before lashing through the legs of Rodák. Maupay’s 17th of the season killed off Rotherham and gave The Bees the points as they saw the game out with a minimum of fuss to extend their unbeaten run to seven in all competitions.
Rotherham United: Rodák; Vyner (sub Yates 78 mins), Ajayi, Robertson, Mattock; Vaulks, Towell; Forde (sub Vassell 86 mins), Wiles (sub Crooks 59 mins), Taylor; Smith
Subs (not used): Price, Wood, Raggett, Jones
Bookings: Yates (81 mins)
Brentford: Bentley; Konsa, Jeanvier, Barbet; Dalsgaard, Mokotjo (sub Dasilva 88 mins), Sawyers, Henry; Watkins (sub Ogbene 88 mins), Maupay, Benrahma (sub Canós 76 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Sørensen, Odubajo, McEachran
Attendance: 8,319 (606 Bees fans)