VIDEO - Millers match verdict, reaction and highlights: Brentford 2 Rotherham United 1

New management team Neil Redfearn and Eric Black. Pictures: Jim Brailsford
New management team Neil Redfearn and Eric Black. Pictures: Jim Brailsford

After a narrow defeat, a loss biting even more deeply because his side deserved some reward for their efforts, the manager of Rotherham United calmly walked over to the three match officials on the pitch and shook hands with them all.

There might even have been a little shout for a penalty in the last few frantic seconds, a long shot at best, as Neil Redfearn’s men strove for an equaliser and the ball bounced up and appeared to clip a Brentford arm.

But the new man didn’t flinch and never mentioned it afterwards.

And so the Millers era post Steve Evans really began.

It couldn’t have got off to a worse start - Danny Ward named to play, at the ground where he made his debut last season, having to be helped off the pitch during the warm-up with a back spasm, barely able to walk, let alone run.

It couldn’t have got off to a worse start, the sequel - just 67 seconds on the clock when Alan Judge’s glorious dipping volley from 20 yards put the home side in front.

But the Millers showed encouraging signs in their subsequent fightback when they enjoyed plenty of territory and possession and engineered enough chances to have taken something from the game.

The new man thought his team could even have grabbed all three points. That would have been harsh on the West London side who had started the game with exactly the same record as Rotherham. That said, defeat was certainly harsh on the visitors who, after weekend events, are now back in the Championship’s bottom three.

Redfearn, in charge at Elland Road last season before being brought to South Yorkshire by chairman Tony Stewart, described himself as “upbeat” after being pleased with a lot of what he saw.

“Obviously it’s disappointing for us with the result but the most important thing for me was the performance,” he added. “I know if we go through the processes and start getting the performances right, we’ll start gettiing results.

“It was exactly the same at Leeds last year. They were a very fragile bunch because they’d been through a lot of changes. Then we started to get the performances right and the results started coming, We’ve got to do that here.”

Anything Judge could do, Joe Mattock could do almost better, the left-back’s stunning long-range strike drawing the Millers level with the second half barely a minute old before he departed proceedings late on with a damaged shoulder.

Joe Newell missing injured, Danny Ward not making kick-off, then Mattock ... Rotherham’s left-hand side is taking a real pounding,

The defender left Griffin Park with his right arm in a sling, defying his discomfort to still manage to sign his name for waiting fans in a manner even more awkward than his 82nd-minute fall, and will be a big loss if he is out tomorrow night against Reading.

Joe Mattock scores

Joe Mattock scores

Rotherham stepped up a gear after the break and it was against the run of proceedings when Judge buried a header from Jake Bidwell’s 57th-minute cross. The finish was another classy one, but Redfearn won’t be happy with the marking which allowed him a free effort.

The Rotherham boss spoke of games on the Bees’ tight pitch in their tight, little stadium always producing chances, and this match was as tight as you like.

Seven minutes after Judge’s second, Jonson Clarke-Harris, quieter than he has been of late, looked set to score only for his fizzing goalbound shot to be blocked, then Matt Derbyshire broke clear on the right side of the penalty area and should have tested goalkeeper David Button more with his shot.

The big moment came in the 71st minute when Paul Green found himself alone in the penalty area with an inviting cross coming his way and only Button to undo.

There was nothing wrong with the downward header, but the home keeper, who had denied the Rotherham midfielder in exactly the same circumstances last season, was brilliantly equal to the task.

Emmanuel Ledesma came on as a late sub but four times out of four his delivery didn’t beat the first man and, with that, Rotherham’s last chance was gone.

Redfearn, in his first week of impressing everybody and making friends, had talked of different methods, a new way of playing, but no amount of planning could stop a goal like the Bees’ opener.

Click here for Paul Green’s ‘nemesis’

Farrend Rawson’s header away was adequate enough, but the Brentford man returned it with breathtaking interest.

Just how good? Well, let Green, brought into the side by Redfearn for only his second league start of the season, be the Judge of that.

“Fair play to the lad. It’s great technique,” he reflected.

Brentford’s attacking midfielder, called up to the Republic of Ireland’s last squad and full of vision and deft touches, was the difference between the two sides. Put him in the Rotherham line-up and Redfearn would have been marking his first match in charge with a win.

Derbyshire, with a flicked header, and Chris Maguire, shooting from distance, went close for the visitors in the first half, while Lee Camp, blameless for both Brentford goals, produced a smart save down at his near post to deny judge his hat-trick after the interval.

John Swift, on loan at AESSEAL New York Stadium last season, produced one lovely, dribbling run, in the 34th minute, which almost brought a goal for Marco Djuricin, but was otherwise a fairly peripheral figure.

The Millers’ new boss says it will take time for his influence to be properly felt, but acknowledges that is a commodity in short supply.

Steve Clarke’s high-fliers are at New York tomorrow and then on Friday it’s the big one. Sheffield Wednesday.

The Championship waits for nobody.

“I told the players at half-time to have that little bit more belief and a bit more of a front-foot attitude to go and get at Brentford,” he said.

“I think we showed little glimpses of it in the first half and I thought second half that we did have it. I thought we knocked them back a little bit.

“This group is right at the beginning of the process. It’s going to take time. But there were good signs there today. If we need to get a little bit of help in to help these boys then we’ll do it. But it will be players who come in to help rather than replace.”

There were also good signs from Redfearn himself.

It would have been easy for him to stick as closely as possible to the side which had won two of their last three matches and run promotion favourites Burnley close in the game prior to this one.

But he was brave enough to do it his way. The omission of Newell was enforced, but he made two other changes, bringing in Maguire for Grant Ward on the right of midfield and preferring Green in the middle to Tony Andreu.

His decisions before the game and his reaction after showed what the Millers are getting.

He will be his own man.

And, with the club moving in a new direction after Evans, he will be a different one.

Brentford (4-4-1-1): Button 7; Yennaris 6, Tarkowski 8, Dean 7, Bidwell 7; Canos 6 (Gogia 70), McCormack 6, Woods 6, Swift 5 (Diagouraga 78); Judge 9; Djuricin 6 (Hofmann 64, 5). Not used: Bonham, Kerschbaumer, Vibe, O’Connell.

Rotherham (4-4-2): Camp 7; Buxton 6, Rawson 7, Collins 6, Mattock 7 (Ledesma 82); Maguire 6 (Bowery 74), Smallwood 6, Green 7, White 5 (G Ward 64, 5); Clarke-Harris 6 Derbyshire 6. Not used: Collin, Broadfoot, Andreu, Halford.

Goals: Judge 2, 57 (Brentford); Mattock 46 (Rotherham).

Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire).

Attendance: 10,293 (565).

Chris Maguire shoots

Chris Maguire shoots