Brentford’s game with Rotherham, due to be played on Saturday, has been postponed due to Covid cases in the Millers camp.
It has been rearranged for Tuesday, 27 April at 7pm.
The Bees’ next game is at Blackburn next Friday 12 March at 7.45pm, live on Sky.
Here is the preview written for Saturday, in case you want to read it.
Our third South Yorkshire visitors in four games – Rotherham – are once again battling for their Championship lives.
The Millers have changed division in each of the past four seasons, with two relegations followed by instant promotions from League One.
They have been in and around the relegation zone for all of this season and a home defeat by Barnsley at the end of December saw them drop to 23rd place.
But a run of four wins and a draw in six games in January and early February turned the tide and took them up to 20th.
However, they then slumped to five straight defeats, which dropped them back into the bottom three, before they snatched a dramatic 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Wednesday to stop the rot and also complete their first-ever double over the Owls.
That result means they will arrive in west London on Saturday in 22nd place, three points behind both landlords and tenants Birmingham and Coventry and with two games in hand on each of them.
There has been little distraction from the cup competitions this season, with Rotherham going out at the first hurdle in each one. They lost 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at Salford in the Carabao Cup, while in the FA Cup they took Everton to extra-time at Goodison Park, before losing 2-1.
Rotherham and Brentford are two of seven Championship clubs who have never played in the Premier League, with Bristol City, Luton, Millwall, Preston and Wycombe being the others.
Relegated from League One with us in 2006/07, they spent six seasons in the basement, before back-to-back promotions saw them promoted to the Championship with us, although in their case via the play-offs, in 2014.
They just avoided relegation in each of the next two seasons – finishing 21st each time – before starting on their four years of swapping between the second and third tiers.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Former Rotherham midfielder Paul Warne is the second longest-serving manager in the Championship, behind Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth, and the ninth longest-serving in all four divisions.
He took temporary charge of the Millers when Kenny Jackett left in November 2016 and was given the job until the end of the season the following January.
Although he could not keep the Millers in the Championship, he was appointed as full-time manager in early April, as soon as the Millers had been relegated, on a one-year rolling contract.
And he rewarded the faith shown in him by chairman Tony Stewart by leading Rotherham to immediate promotion the following May – signing a new three-year contract soon afterwards.
Warne made nearly 300 appearances for the Millers over two spells at the club, also playing for Wigan, Oldham and Yeovil, and joined Rotherham’s coaching staff when he retired from playing in 2012.
A year later, he was given a testimonial to recognise his 10 years’ service to the club.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford have met Rotherham nine times in the Championship since we won promotion together in 2014.
We hold the upper hand with seven wins and only two defeats, while we we still await the first draw.
Past meetings in the Championship (Bees scores first):
2014/15 – (H) 1-0 (A) 2-0
2015/16 – (H) 2-1 (A) 1-2
2016/17 – (H) 4-2 (A) 0-1
2018/19 – (H) 5-1 (A) 4-2
2020/21 – (A) 2-0
The two games in the 2018/19 season each featured six goals, as the Bees did the double over the Millers, and each was played in very contrasting circumstances.
The home match against the newly-promoted Millers kicked off what was thought to be potentially our last full season at Griffin Park in superb style as we earned a crushing 5-1 victory.
Neal Maupay and Sergi Canos put us 2-0 up at half-time, before Ollie Watkins and Maupay again both scored after the interval to end the game as a contest. Lewis MacLeod hit a late fifth for Dean Smith’s Bees, before Will Vaulks grabbed a consolation.
The result meant Brentford topped the Championship table after the opening day – the last time we would reach those lofty heights until last month’s win at Reading.
By the time of the return game in mid-January, Dean Smith had moved on to Aston Villa and Thomas Frank has taken over as the Bees’ new head coach. His side was just coming out an awful run of form and had started to climb the table, and finally got their first Championship away success of the season at the New York Stadium, as we ran out 4-2 winners in the “Jaffa Cake” away kit.
Kamo Mokotjo put us ahead in only the second minute, but Jon Taylor equalised for Rotherham midway through the first half. Said Benrahma restored our lead early in the second half, but an Ezri Konsa own goal levelled things up again in the 73rd minute.
However, two minutes later, Mokotjo restored Brentford’s lead, and Neal Maupay hit a late fourth.
This season’s first game, at the start of December, resulted in a 2-0 win for the Bees, thanks to second half goals for Marcus Forss and Ivan Toney, from the penalty spot.
For the third time in four home games, we face South Yorkshire opposition and once again, completing a hat-trick of opposition previews for us, is BBC Radio Sheffield’s reporter and commentator Adam Oxley, who this time turns his attention to Rotherham.
He looks at their season, the job Paul Warne has done at the club and the fortunes of the Millers’ two ex-Bees – Florian Jozefzoon and Chiedozie Ogbene.
Q – Rotherham seemed to be getting out of trouble, but what has gone wrong in recent games?
A – Fine margins and a lack of quality in front of goal have been the key difference, not just over recent weeks but for large portions of the season. Wednesday night’s dramatic win at South Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday ended a run of five straight defeats, all by a one-goal margin, and the last four by just one goal to nil. The Millers were well in most of those games, and should have taken some points. Some decisions went against Rotherham, but failure to take chances hurt them and that’s always what separates the top and bottom of the table.
Q – How confident are you that the Millers can beat the drop this time around?
A – What Rotherham may lack in quality – understandable with only Wycombe having a smaller budget – they make up for in endeavour, organisation and team spirit, and that’s what gives them a fighting chance of staying up. I wouldn’t say I’m confident, but I think they can survive and go one better than the last time they were in the Championship in 2018/19.
Q – What sort of season were Rotherham expecting this time around – another season of struggle or something more positive?
A – Any realistic Millers fan would have taken fourth from bottom before the season started, given the quality and additional financial clout of the majority of teams in the Championship. Rotherham have been relegated twice and promoted twice in the last four seasons under Paul Warne. Many will have hoped that Warne had learnt from these experiences to put the club in a better position to survive, and despite the Millers still being in the bottom three, it’s felt and appeared like they do have a more realistic chance of staying up this season.
Q – Paul Warne has been at the club a long time and sounds like a manager who does things differently to most others. How good a job has he done?
A – Paul Warne has done an excellent job and commands the backing of the majority of Millers fans. Clearly, as with most clubs, some fans only see the results and the league table, and have called for a change when times have got tough this season, but most recognise the financial constraints under which Rotherham operate, as well as the way Warne conducts himself.
He’s a people person, creating a real family feel within his squad; he talks differently to most other managers with bags of character, humility and humour; he’s got the club at heart having made over 250 appearances as a player, and he’s not afraid to make mistakes, admit them and learn on the job. You won’t find many people with a bad word to say about Paul Warne, and many would love to see him keep the Millers up this season.
Q – Florian Jozefzoon and Chiedozie Ogbene are well known to Brentford fans. I know Ogbene is injured at the moment but how have the pair done?
A – Chiedozie Ogbene has been one of a number of key first team players who have missed large parts of the season, something which really hasn’t helped a Rotherham side who were already up against it in the Championship. Ogbene has been missed as he’s a player who can do something different, make something happen, and offers genuine width on the pitch.
When Ogbene and Kieran Sadlier were both injured towards the start of the season, it was one of the reasons why Rotherham moved away from wingers to wing-backs with three in defence, a formation which has largely worked well for the Millers with the players available. Rotherham are hoping to have Ogbene and other key players like Jamie Lindsay and Joe Mattock back after the international break, which will be a timely and welcome boost for the home stretch.
As for Florian Josefzoon, the switch to a 3-5-2 has left him out of position and he’s found game time hard to come by, making only eight league starts. We’ve not seen the best from Josefzoon, but he’s a player who clearly has some ability and could yet provide some important moments as the Millers seek to avoid the drop.
Q – What do you remember about previous meetings between the sides?
A – I covered Brentford’s 2-0 win at the New York Stadium earlier this season, which, as with so many games, saw Rotherham battle hard but lose to a better team.
The fixture that stands out in my memory though is the opening game of the 2018/19 season when the Millers lost 5-1 to the Bees at Griffin Park. I remember travelling to the capital with much enthusiasm, the euphoria of winning the League One play-off final still fresh in everyone’s minds, but the emphatic nature of Brentford’s victory quickly brought all connected with Rotherham back down to earth.
I remember interviewing Paul Warne and Will Vaulks after the game and seeing the reality of the challenge they faced in the Championship etched on their faces and evident in their words. Thankfully, the team responded next game with a win, gave it a real go that season, and took it to the penultimate game at West Brom before being relegated just four points from safety.
Q – Which Rotherham players should Bees fans watch out for?
A – The Millers are still hit with some key injury absences but will welcome back Michael Ihiekwe from suspension this weekend, a player who has been really consistent at the back. Lewis Wing has made a positive impact in midfield since joining on loan from Middlesbrough in January, a player who looks comfortable on the ball and has an eye for a pass.
The partnership between forward Michael Smith and attacking midfielder Matt Crooks proved fruitful before the club’s recent run of defeats, with both scoring goals and assisting each other, and they’re two players still with the club from the relegation season two years ago.
Q – Finally can you give me a possible Rotherham line-up and formation please?
A – Michael Smith is able to play against the Bees after seeing his midweek red card at Hillsborough overturned, which is a real boost for the Millers.
A potential line up is 3-5-1-1…
CD: Ihiekwe, MacDonald (A), Harding
CM: Wing, Barlaser, Wiles
HOW TO FOLLOW THE GAME
The match is being played at the Brentford Community Stadium at 3pm on Saturday, behind closed doors. Season ticket holders who have frozen their tickets have free access to watch the match on iFollow, and others can buy a match pass for £10.