Alan Judge scored twice as Brentford recorded their first win under Head Coach Lee Carsley by beating Rotherham United 2-1. The attacking midfield player, fresh from time away with the Republic of Ireland squad, put The Bees ahead inside 70 seconds with a fine volley. He then headed the winner in the second half after Rotherham had levelled less than a minute after the break.
Brentford probably deserved the win overall but they had to work hard for it. Rotherham had a real attacking threat and created chances. But Brentford defended well, especially in the latter stages, and limited the clear cut openings. They did enough to get their first win since mid-September and the first since Carsley took the helm three weeks ago.
The game could not have started in a better fashion for Brentford as they took the lead with just 67 seconds on the clock. The ball was worked through midfield by Ryan Woods and Alan McCormack and Nico Yennaris delivered a cross from the right that Rotherham could only clear as far as Judge on the edge of the penalty area and he lifted a volley back past Lee Camp and in to the net. Many inside Griffin Park had barely taken their seats before the Irishman got them on their feet with a sublime piece of skill that gave The Bees something to build on.
If Rotherham had come to keep the game tight, any plans went out of the window immediately. They had been forced in to a late change with Danny Ward injured in the warm-up and Aidan White stepped in on the left of a midfield four. They looked to use the pace of Matt Derbyshire and Jonson Clarke-Harris in attack and had danger from set pieces with Chris Maguire providing excellent delivery.
Derbyshire could have equalised within five minutes with a looping header from a Maguire free-kick but David Button tipped it over and when the next ball came in, Danny Collins headed wide. Maguire went close himself soon after with a shot from 25 yards that flew wide with Button at full stretch and the Brentford goalkeeper then held on to a weak White chip after the midfielder had dribbled in to the penalty area.
Despite their early lead, Brentford were arguably second best in the first quarter of the match. They were threatening when they got the ball and there were a few dangerous crosses, particularly from the overlapping Yennaris, that caused danger, but the chances were mainly at the other end. Maguire was dictating play for the visitors and their wide men often tucked in leaving McCormack and Woods outnumbered. However, when John Swift, Sergi Canós and Judge linked up, Brentford looked capable of scoring.
As the half wore on, McCormack and Woods began to get hold of the midfield, Brentford’s attacking players got more of the ball and the home side dictated the tempo. Rotherham maintained an attacking outlook, needing to find a goal, and it was end-to-end at times. Derbyshire headed wide for the visitors and then produced a superb cross that Harlee Dean toe-ended away from the onrushing Clarke-Harris. Marco Djuricin shot wide for The Bees at the other end after good work by James Tarkowski and McCormack and the Austrian striker went even closer moments later. Swift was the creator as he weaved his way through, past three defenders and to the by-line, his cut back was met by Djuricin but somehow his shot was deflected away from goal by Collins a yard out.
Derbyshire had a shot blocked for Rotherham and Judge fired across the face of goal after Swift and Jake Bidwell had linked on the left. Maguire saw a shot blocked and Derbyshire a header saved before Djuricin missed his kick from a low Judge corner. As the half drew to a close Brentford seemed to have the initiative, Rotherham’s chances had been reduced late in the first period and The Bees were proving they could open the visitors up when they got their attacking players linking in the final third.
But within a minutes of the second half starting, the game was level. The goal came out of nothing, Brentford lifted the ball clear and Joe Mattock outmuscled Canós to win it before striding forward and smashing a shot in to the top corner from 25 yards. Button was left with no chance as the shot arrowed in to the corner of post and crossbar to make it all square.
Brentford, however, responded well to the goal and were back in front a little over ten minutes later. Woods was again involved, chipping a ball to the left side where Bidwell arrived to deliver a first time cross and Judge met it with a powerful header that Camp could not keep out. The Bees had been denied moments earlier when a low Judge free kick reached Swift at the far side but Maguire made a recovery tackle and a Tarkowski header was saved soon after.
Rotherham needed to press forward again looking for a second equaliser but the game was tighter than it had been in the first half. They created chances but Brentford held a solid line and there was little room for the visitors to work in. Clarke-Harris saw a shot blocked before Button went down to his right to save from Derbyshire in rather unconvincing fashion. The Brentford goalkeeper was, however, then imperious to go away to his left and push out a Paul Green header.
Substitute Jordan Bowery saw a shot blocked and Richard Smallwood fired over from 25 yards before Judge could have sealed it at the other end. After some nice interplay on the right, Yennaris fed Swift and he cut the ball back to Judge but Camp got down well to save. Judge hit a free kick in to a defensive wall and then shot wide as he sought a hat-trick but Brentford were also wary of Rotherham’s attacking threat.
The visitors had a lot of the ball in the final stages and delivered plenty of crosses but Dean and Tarkowski headed most of them away.
Rotherham threw men forward in the dying stages, ending with three men up front, but with McCormack, Woods and substitute Toumani Diagouraga protecting those behind them, Button was largely untroubled. The goalkeeper did have to palm out one cross from underneath his crossbar but he dealt with everything Rotherham could throw at him and Brentford did enough to take the points.
Brentford: Button; Yennaris, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell; Woods, McCormack; Canós (sub Gogia 69 mins), Judge, Swift (sub Diagouraga 79 mins); Djuricin (sub Hofmann 64 mins)
Subs (not used): Bonham, O’Connell, Kerschbaumer, Vibe
Bookings: McCormack (72 mins) (sixth of season), Diagouraga (88 mins) (third of season)
Rotherham United: Camp; Buxton, Collins, Rawson, Mattock (sub Ledesma 82 mins); Maguire (sub Bowery 74 mins), Green, Smallwood, White (sub G. Ward 64 mins); Clarke-Harris, Derbyshire
Subs (not used): Collin, Broadfoot, Halford, Andreu
Bookings: Smallwood (53 mins), Ledesma (90 mins)
Attendance: 10,293 (565 away fans)