Brentford secured a third win on the bounce – and stretched their unbeaten run in the Championship to eight matches – with a 2-1 victory at Rotherham United on Tuesday night.
Marcus Forss and Ivan Toney got the goals and provided big positives for head coach Thomas Frank, as well the organisation which secured a fourth consecutive clean sheet on the road as they moved up to fourth in the table.
On a tricky first half
It was not all plain sailing for Brentford though – they were frustrated in the first half by a well-organised Rotherham side who prevented them from playing through into threatening positions, and as a result they had few chances.
“I think first half was, in a few spells, a bit too open for me,” Frank reflected. “I think we gave the ball away too easily, that created a few counters, and there were some second-ball situations where they created chances.
“But I also think we were dangerous in the other end and on set pieces. We know a team like Rotherham are very difficult to play against so if we kept going it would be more open throughout the game.”
On a perfect second half
So it would prove, as they took advantage of some extra space and a tiring Rotherham team to open the scoring through Forss, and then seal the result late on with a Toney penalty.
Frank said: “Second half, I thought we were unbelievable. Giving nothing away, defensively our high line helped us a lot. We were very aware of our second-ball game, good defending set pieces.
“But on the ball we took an extra level up. We played more behind them, The first goal we a fantastic example of that; the first ball for Bryan Mbeumo, (it) came back off Ivan who linked up with Marcus Forss (to score).”
After an inconsistent start to the season, last season’s Championship play-off finalists are now – in the imagery of boss Frank – motoring up.
“We feel like an engine,” he enthused, “we’re going at a good pace, we’re difficult to stop. But I still feel that we are only in gear four or five. We have one or two extra levels offensively where I’m still not satisfied.
“But eight games unbeaten in this league is very difficult, getting five clean sheets and only conceding three is showing signs of a team that is in a good place.”
On Marcus Forss
It was a particularly good night’s work for Forss, who was handed a first league start under Frank and only a second in his Brentford career, on the left side of the front three.
Assessing the performance of Forss, whose opening goal was a seventh of the season in all competitions having impressed in the EFL Cup and off the bench, Frank said: “First half our front three struggled a bit, mainly Marcus (struggled) to find his feet and find his role. But he was making some fantastic runs in behind.
“His interaction with other players was not (great) first half, but second half I think you could really see that counter, he gets the first big chances. The goal is just an example of how he is in the box, and then his work rate was unbelievable.”
On Ivan Toney
It was also another game for Toney, who contributed to both his goals with his link-up play as well as scoring the second for his 13th goal of the season.
He provided the clever and accurate knock-down for Forss to fire in the opening goal, and then played the pass to Sergi Canos which saw the substitute fouled, allowing Toney himself to wrap up the win.
Frank was pleased to see his all-round game coming to the fore, saying: “He’s growing massively. His work-rate and his strength in the duels is great. And his leadership is also growing. He’s a massive player for us.”