Mbuemo makes the difference for Bees as Rotherham miss their chance
Brentford 1 Rotherham United 0
Julian Taylor at Brentford Community Stadium
A Bryan Mbuemo header was enough to seal all three points as Brentford warm up for the play offs in their bid for the Premier League.
The Bees winger scored his seventh goal of the season in the 26th minute to see off spirited Rotherham, who suffered from a clinical presence up front.
There may have been just one goal between the sides but Brentford were generally consummate and dominated the second half. A 30th goal of the term still, curiously, eludes Ivan Toney.
Michael Ihiekwe almost levelled at the end for the Millers only to see home keeper David Raya clutch his header on the goal line. Fortunately for the Bees, they held on and, overall, deservedly so.
Three was a minutes’ applause from the players and staff pre-match, in memory of Brentford legend Peter Gelson, who had passed away. The former centre half, born in west London, had played over 500 games for the club in the late sixties up until 1975.
For the Bees, with their play-off berth secured, it was an opportunity to tweak things. Head coach Thomas Frank made five changes from the side that beat Bournemouth 1-0 at the weekend, in what was a scintillating display on the south coast. Ethan Pinnock, for instance, featured on the left of a back three with Mads Bech Sorensen in the middle.
It was probably no surprise though, to see Rotherham set the pace early on. The Millers, third bottom of the Championship table and four points adrift of Derby County with a couple of games in hand, had all the incentive in their late bid to escape the drop. A win would clearly prove to be pivotal for Paul Warne’s team. Their best opportunity fell to Angus MacDonald who fired over from the edge of the penalty area – but the lack of cutting edge from the Yorkshire outfit was to cost them in 26 minutes.
Brentford, in what was virtually their first proper threat going forward, went ahead in neat fashion. Mbuemo managed to ghost into space, flicking home a header from eight yards out after Sergi Canos cut in from the left where his cross was laced with precision. The breakthrough was certainly unfortunate for Rotherham at this point with attacker Mbuemo helping himself to a second goal in succession.
The Bees looked to add to their lead, but Canos, having done very well to turn inside MacDonald, was frustrated to see his left footed effort palmed away by Millers’ keeper Jamal Blackman amid some resourceful defending. And the Spaniard, increasingly threatening, saw another shot go wide a minute before half time.
Newly-crowned London Football Association EFL player of the year Toney stretched the Rotherham defence with seconds remaining of the opening forty five, but the Championship’s leading marksman struck a low drive against the base of the post.
Chances were at a premium after the restart, and although Rotherham’s industry was admirable, their lack of incision inside the Bees’ penalty area was fair evidence of their struggles at the wrong end of the table.
Eventually, Toney went close for the hosts just before the hour mark, but his powerful 12 yard header from an accurately slung Mads Roerslev cross from the right was again met by Blackman. Emiliano Marcondes lacked composure immediately thereafter when he swirled a shot wide when he really should have hit the target.
Toney it must be said, was in customary, determined form, and had another effort which went wide. Rotherham’s opportunities to press forward were hampered by the fact they had to keep a major watching brief on the former Newcastle United man.
With the normal responsibilities of earlier in the campaign gone, this was a game in which Frank could experiment a little. And, to that end, made a triple switch in 72 minutes with young Dane Mads Bidstrup, Marcus Forss and Tarique Fosu replacing Mbuemo, Saman Ghoddos and Canos respectively.
Marcondes almost added a second with eight minutes to go only for busy Blackman to turn his shot away in fanciful fashion. With that, the west Londoners had to be content with the single goal, ahead of their next encounter at home to freshly promoted Watford on Saturday.
Bees: Raya, Goode, Pinnock, Canos (Fosu 73), Marcondes, Ghoddos (Forss 73), Janelt (Jensen 88), Roerslev, Bech Sorensen, Mbuemo (Bidstrup 73), Toney