Match Report: Brentford 0 Rotherham United 1

Matt Tubbs gets the better of Shaleum Logan but fires just wide of the near post.
Matt Tubbs gets the better of Shaleum Logan but fires just wide of the near post.
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It wasn’t the Bees but all those connected with the Millers who were buzzing after this!

Make no mistake, this was some win. Not just any old win. They had a near-enough complete performance to go with it.

In all aspects, they were excellent against a good side who are strong, clever and dangerous.

In fact, I’d decided at half-time - with Brentford having indicated towards the end of the half what might well be in store - based on what I’d seen already from the Millers that, win, lose or draw, they’d be getting some plaudits.

I also decided at half-time that the second half would give us a real idea of where this team might be, both collectively and individually. The second half was going to sort out the men from the boys.

Well, the Millers manned up all right. Defensively, mentally, physically and, in terms of attacking intent, positively as well.

All they’d shown in the first half was confirmed in the second and, to such an extent, that Brentford ran out of ideas (not my favourite saying) in the last 15 minutes.

It doesn’t do to get carried away. It’s foolish so we’ll leave that to the fools. And it’s dangerous, so we’ll leave that to those who subsequently fail.

But, while making allowances for the early-season momentum a promoted side can often carry, this was further compelling evidence that the Millers are capable of being serious challengers.

One thing’s for sure - in the mood of the past two matches, they are certainly going to be a handful for any team in this division.

Yes, it is still early days and newness can quickly wear off. But on days like this great pretenders go under. They start to crack and then crumble when the pressure comes on.

What’s more, they may not be sure how to respond or have a willingness to go toe to toe when required.

But right from the start - having binned last week’s 1-0 defeat against Peterborough but not the confidence gained from the performance - they were on their game; working hard, competing; taking knocks, getting up, giving it back; foraging for openings.

It got spiky at times but there were no shrinking violets in grey shirts.

A key, too, is having some composure even when under pressure or coming under it. Rotherham had that too. They wellied it when they had to but always tried to have some calmness about them.

Of course, you need some good example-setters, often at the back. They had them.

Skipper Craig Morgan and Kari Arnason, at the heart of the defence, were magnificent.

Arnason, nicknamed by some ‘The Prince’ for his stately demeanour, was a king here. The way he would step forward, reading things superbly, showing great intelligence, betrayed his international pedigree with Iceland for whom he plays at the back.

How he often stepped in early, curbing threat before it got to the next stage - even the way he fouled once or twice - was taken straight from the international stage. It was top-class stuff.

Morgan has his own domain. He was Mr Solid whether attacking balls thrown forward or inside the penalty area where he popped up time and again.

But you also need full-backs to back it up. They did.

Mark Bradley and Joe Skarz were excellent. Bradley can no doubt ponder football’s vagaries - near-miss agony three times last week and a 14th- minute winner here earned very much through a sheer determination to get on the end of Ben Pringle’s telling free-kick.

But they need help as well from those in front. They got it.

Kieran Agard certainly ploughed a furrow up and down the right, constantly getting back to assist, prompting boss Steve Evans to remark: “He covered every blade of grass and if there’s a harder-working player in the league, then introduce me to him and I should sign him.” Pringle was splendid too.

Midfield has to function. It did. Lee Frecklington was involved in plenty and so was Rob Milsom even if it was harder this week to emboss matters with the same extent of skill as the previous week.

And you certainly need willingness up front. They had it.

Alex Revell took a fair old buffeting at times but really stuck at it. Matt Tubbs (first start since August 17) caught the mood and is certainly sharper than when last seen.

And you may need substitutes to contribute too. That happened as well.

Danny Hylton finally got his debut, played out on the left in a changed formation and showed the sort of skill and touch he’s renowned for, prompting Evans to say “he was our best player in the last 20 minutes”.

Behind it all you need a goalkeeper to make important saves. Scott Shearer did so.

The only time, just on the half-hour, Rotherham were stripped bare saw Clayton Donaldson sent clear into the area. Shearer denied him.

Then, in stoppage time, a rocket strike by sub George Saville from fully 25 yards was flying into the top corner until Shearer’s spectacular tip over. And, amidst all that, there has to be something going forward. There was.

Counter-attacks saw Tubbs and Revell shoot wide and both Pringle and Hylton went close from self-made opportunities with Brentford in trouble.

All this while countering a home side whose movement asked serious questions.

They were dangerous, never more so than the ominous spell before half-time which meant the second half started with an air of threat and menace.

But they never quite got up a head of steam; they couldn’t find or work a way through; couldn’t force a way either, although they always did pose a threat. Rotherham matched them and more.

An excellent performance. Next benchmark please!