Second half goals from Marcus Forss and Ivan Toney gave Brentford a third win in seven days. The Bees came in to the contest unbeaten in seven and with wins over Barnsley and Queens Park Rangers under their belt in the past week. This time Rotherham United were dispatched 2-0 as Toney set up the first for Forss and then stroked home a penalty to make the game safe.
It was another three points that The Bees fully deserved. They perhaps just shaded the first half, but Rotherham would have been happier at the break given the way they prevented The Bees building a head of steam. It was a different story in the second half, the visitors upped the tempo, scored before the hour and made the game safe late on.
There was a high energy start to the game, particularly from the home side. Brentford had more of the ball in the opening exchanges and looked to get men forward quickly. But Rotherham worked extremely hard off the ball, trying to prevent The Bees building through midfield and holding a high line to try and win the ball back in dangerous areas.
The hosts started the game with three central defenders and three men tightly packed in the centre of midfield. That left lots of space on the flanks and both Tariqe Fosu and Rico Henry looked to get forward to supplement the attack from full back. The final ball was not as it needed to be from either team and while there were sights of goal in the opening exchanges, no goalkeeper was really tested.
Ethan Pinnock probably had Brentford’s best chances in the first quarter of the contest. He met a deep Mathias Jensen corner inside the first five minutes, but his header lacked power and Jamal Blackman was able to save. Bryan Mbeumo delivered a free kick soon after that again found Pinnock in space, this header had more power but missed the target.
Vitaly Janelt blocked a powerful shot from Matt Crooks at the other end and a Michael Smith header landed on top of the net later in the half. Rotherham had an opening when Brentford cleared a free kick to the edge of the penalty area, Jamie Lindsay got a shot away but Toney was able to deflect it away from goal. The hosts looked dangerous when putting the ball in the penalty area and their strike pair – Smith and Freddie Ladapo – linked well but The Bees had a solid defensive shape.
The visitors were also creating the better chances. A superb pass from Jensen, who looked classy in everything he did throughout the match, released Henry on the left, his cross was half cleared as far as Mbeumo 15 yards out, but he fired over. The ball was bouncing in front of him, but he had the time to find the target. Janelt could have done likewise when Jensen drilled a corner low in to his path, but he bent a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Forss had a shot blocked late in the half for The Bees when he got on to a Toney pass, but it was probably the hosts who ended the first period slightly the stronger. Raya held on to a Smith header when a free kick was flicked on and made a better stop soon after. Brentford tried to break but lost the ball, Crooks burst down the left, cut inside and fired a shot powerfully across Raya, but he pushed the shot away to ensure the first half ended all square.
The hosts would probably have been happier at the interval. Their defence was exceptionally well organised, and Brentford mostly played in front of them. The Bees looked dangerous when they got multiple men in close proximity on the flanks, but that left them open to a potential counter-attack and Rotherham’s midfield players and full backs were working exceptionally hard up and down the pitch to prevent Brentford building momentum.
The first period suffered from a lack of tempo at times but that changed after the interval. Rotherham had an early free kick that caused some issues for The Bees and Raya had to save a Lindsay effort when a cross was cleared, but most of the action was at the other end. Brentford move up a gear after the break, moving the ball quicker and finding more spaces for players to progress up the pitch.
The Bees could have been in front just after half time when a Toney flick sent Mbeumo in to space, the pass found Forss inside the penalty area but his shot was saved by Blackman. Forss had to check a fraction to get the pass and that gave Blackman time to set himself and make a block. Forss had another shot blocked when he was picked out cleverly by Henry. The resulting corner was flicked to Pinnock at the far post, but his header was blocked.
The goal that Brentford were threatening came just before the hour mark. Fosu played a key role with a superb pass down the right that released Mbeumo, he delivered a superb ball that looked set for Toney inside the six-yard box, but Richard Wood was able to make a block. The clearance only, however, went as far as Fosu, he delivered a cross to the far post, Toney cut it back first time and Forss drilled it home.
The ball went from the right wing to the back of the net in three touches from three players. Fosu took his time before delivering his cross, Toney’s ball back was perfectly measured and unselfish and Forss’ finish was low and true. Blackman was beaten and The Bees had the lead.
It could have been two moments later when Toney found space on the right and Fosu delivered a cross that would gave been tapped in by Forss but for Blackman flying full stretch and pushing it out. Smith headed over for the hosts at the other end and they made a series of substitutions as they chased the game. But they had limited effect and Raya was mostly a spectator as his defence kept the hosts at bay, albeit he did have a few catches to make.
And inside the final ten minutes, The Bees made the game safe. The second goal was scored by Toney from the penalty spot, but it was a team effort. Henry won the ball back from Florian Jozefzoon inside his own penalty area and immediately turned defence in to attack. Jensen found Forss and his pass put Toney in behind on the left side, getting away from Wood. He played the ball across for Sergi Canós and as the Spanish attacker prepared to slot past Blackman, he was shoved over by Mickel Miller. Referee Tim Robinson pointed to the spot and showed Miller a second yellow card. The replacement left wing back had only been on the pitch for 11 minutes, had been booked twice and conceded a penalty. Toney stepped up and placed the penalty to Blackman’s right as the goalkeeper dived left to seal the game.
With a two-goal cushion and a man advantage, the game was just about done. There was time for Brentford B striker Aaron Pressley to come on for a professional debut, allowing Toney to have a rest for the final few minutes. There were chances for The Bees to break that they were unable to make the most of. A third goal would have put an unjust gloss on the score line but there was no doubt the points went to the right place.
Rotherham United: Blackman; Olosunde (sub Jozefzoon 71 mins), Harding, Wood, MacDonald, Mattock (sub Miller 71 mins); Lindsay (sub Vassell 80 mins), Wiles, Crook; Ladapo (sub Hirst 80 mins), Smith
Subs (not used): Johansson, Jones, Thompson, Clarke, Barlaser
Bookings: Crooks (22 mins), Wood (48 mins), MacDonald (73 mins)
Sent Off: Miller (81 mins) (second yellow card)
Brentford: Raya; Fosu, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Jensen, Janelt, Dasilva (sub Marcondes 79 mins); Mbeumo (sub Canós 74 mins), Toney (sub Pressley 87 mins), Forss (sub Ghoddos 87 mins)
Subs (not used): Daniels, Thompson, Sørensen, Stevens, Hammar