Millers match verdict: Rotherham United 0 Brentford 2

Kirk Broadfoot hits the bar
Kirk Broadfoot hits the bar

Manager Steve Evans suffers on a Saturday evening after a Rotherham United defeat.

So badly does he take it that he cancels any plans he has to go out, knowing he’d be poor company for those who don’t feel the pain the way he does.

He will have found it tough after this loss because all three points could so easily have gone to the Millers.

Brentford struck in the last minute of a first half when the best chances had gone to the home side. Then they grabbed a second in the dying seconds of the second when the more inviting opportunities had been Rotherham’s.

That’s not to say the Bees stole victory. They were comfortable in possession for long spells, passed well and, with the quick, twinkling feet of Alex Pritchard, carried threat and invention around the edge of the penalty area.

But the same match on another day could have produced a similar scoreline the other way.

“I’m delighted with the performance. I’d be more delighted if we were winning games,” Evans said. “The last two home games are particularly hard to take, Watford and today. Brentford have been absolutely battered from start to finish and they’ve gone away with a victory.”

After Andre Gray had given early warning signs of his pace up for Brentford, the Millers should have been ahead after six minutes. Kirk Broadfoot rose to meet Kari Arnason’s long throw and planted a header on to the bar and Ben Pringle would probably have scored had he got more power to his headed follow-up. Instead, David Button produced the first of several fine saves in the Bees goal.

Then Matt Derbyshire found himself free on the right of the penalty area. It needed a shot or a cut-back to the waiting Alex Revell but the recalled striker produced neither, rolling a cross harmlessly across goal.

Pritchard crept in at the back post and headed over before Derbyshire was equally wasteful, heading wide when controlling Paul Taylor’s cross and shooting would surely have brought more reward.

Two minutes before half-time, Taylor, fed by Richie Smallwood’s pass, measured his shot from the edge of the area and looked to have given the Millers the lead at the perfect time. His superb effort cannoned back off the bar.

In the last minute of the half, Gray, who’d had a shout for a penalty turned down earlier, found himself free on the left. The striker, who was playing non-league with Luton Town last season, bent a beauty round Adam Collin and it was the visitors in front.

Fine margins at this level, eh?

After a slow start to the second half, the home side started to push, and it should have been a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man. Literally.

It was bang on 60 minutes when a rare slip from centre-half James Tarkowski let in Derbyshire.

After a frustrating start to his Millers career which has seen him spend much of his time on the bench, Derbyshire was clear on goal and New York Stadium held its breath in anticipation of a top-flight finish from a striker with a Premier League pedigree.

He shot straight at the keeper.

Who knows what might have happened had Rotherham found themselves level, with crowd and momentum with them, and a good half an hour left to find a winner.

Three points here and they could, conceivably, have been in a play-off place. Defeat sees them in 17th in the Championship table going into the international break with two wins from their opening five matches.

All five of the teams they have faced sit in the top eight, so that’s a solid, respectable beginning from a promoted team new to a demanding higher division.

The Millers have been competitive in every match and Evans knows how close his team have been to a few extra points and turning an encouraging start into a flying one.

What was that about fine margins?

Rotherham know they need to pick up results in matches like this away from the parachute-payment powerhouses.

Taylor can now add Brentford to the list of teams who haven’t been able to handle him since his move from Ipswich, and the loan ace who had twisted and jinked the visitors to distraction came so close to an equaliser in the 77th minute.

A Jordan Bowery cross from the right was deflected and dropped on to Taylor’s foot. His low volley was heading into the bottom right corner and only a top-drawer save was going to stop it. Sadly for Rotherham, the keeper was right on the Button.

Evans’ men pressed in the closing stages and, with the game opened up and the home side committing more men to attack, in the final 10 minutes either side could have scored.

The fact that Brentford did, with Nick Proschwitz’s tap-in in the seventh of eight minutes added on, after efforts by Smallwood, Richard Wood and Taylor, summed up the Millers’ afternoon.

Brentford boss Mark Warburton knew his team had been in a game.

“It was a magnificent performance. We knew what to expect,” he said.

“They are a very organised side, with some very talented players and the physical talent of Alex Revell.

“I thought Harlee Dean and James Tarkowski were excellent. We played very, very well with some great patches of play.”

Evans reflected: “We dominated them for long periods. We hit the woodwork and we had it cleared off the line.

“We had a succession of chances. They broke away a minute from half-time, then we are pushing everyone forward in injury time when they get the second so we discount that.

“We surely cannot keep missing the chances we’ve missed today.

“Goals win matches. Our performance was magnificent from start to finish.”

Then, pointedly, he added: “But I don’t include the striking department in that because we have missed a succession of chances.”

So a horrible, unhappy Saturday night for the Rotherham boss. Probably a sleepless one for Derbyshire.

Hero: Kari Arnason. Again. Sorry if you’re tired of reading this, but the Icelandi international centre-half has been a class act all season. Good on the ball and a strong, clever defender. Long throws a great weapon too.

Key moment: Matt Derbyshire’s 60th-minute miss. A striker of his quality has to be looking to put the ball in the net in a one-v-one. An equaliser could have turned the match in Rotherham’s favour.

Viewpoint; Best wishes to Brentford striker Scott Hogan who was stretchered off with what looked a bad knee injury. Well known round these parts as an ex-Stocksbridge Park Steels player. Good luck, fella.

Referee watch: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire). No real feel for the game, and seems to have joined the ‘No Fouls On Alex Revell’ club. The big man is being given nothing. Missed some major stuff, blew for minor things and angered both camps.

Manager’s view - Steve Evans: “You can’t miss those type of chances and win a football match. Some of the passages of play were wonderful. Some of things we work on on the training ground were great. We had great energy levels. If that’s the standard, then we’ll do all right. We’re crying out desperately for somebody to put the ball in the net. We brought Matt Derbyshire in today and he misses three.”

Manager’s view - Mark Warburton: “A special mention for David Button who has made two or three tremendous saves and really dominated the box in the second half.”

Rotherham United: Collin, Broadfoot, Arnason, Wood, Skarz, Taylor, Frecklington (Wordsworth H-T), Smallwood, Pringle, Revell (Bowery 55), Derbyshire (Brandy 66). Subs not used: Loach, Brindley, Newton, Swift.

Brentford: Button, Bidwell, Dean, Douglas, McCormack, Dallas, Judge, Gray (Toral 82), Pritchard, Peleteiro (Hogan 66, Proschwitz 82), Tarkowski. Subs not used: Lee, Craig, Tebar, Diagouraga.

Attendance: 9,016 (611).