Football: Asaba in a different class

Brentford 4 Rotherham United 2
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Brentford 4 Rotherham United 2

There may not have been any Premiership football at the weekend but there was finishing of the highest quality at the new-look Griffin Park as Carl Asaba gave Brentford's best crowd of the season a performance to savour as they maintained their five-point lead in the Second Division.

After narrowly missing out on promotion to the First Division two seasons ago, Brentford are challenging again and are arguably much better prepared this time. Certainly in Asaba and Nicky Forster they have strikers who will make the step up comfortably, if Brentford can persuade them to stay.

Their stadium, too, is now ready for promotion since the opening of two new stands 10 days ago, and in David Webb they have a steady and loyal manager.

On Saturday they faced a spirited Rotherham side who took full advantage of uncertainty in a Brentford defence missing the injured and influential captain Jamie Bates. The Yorkshiremen might even have taken the lead themselves but for a smart save low down by Kevin Dearden from Trevor Berry.

But it was Asaba, who had looked a different class from the start, who opened the scoring. Moving into the penalty area to take Gus Hurdle's waist-high pass in his stride, he brought the ball under control and in the same movement delivered a powerful right-foot shot past Stephen Farrelly.

His second goal was equally impressive, shooting unerringly into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area when a foot to the right would have enabled Farrelly to make the save.

That put Brentford 3-1 up, Berry having equalised only for Bob Taylor to restore the lead just before half-time after more good service from the Barbadian full-back Hurdle.

Brentford's third might have knocked the stuffing out of Rotherham, but since Danny Bergara took over from Archie Gemmill last month the fortunes of the division's bottom club have taken a turn for the better. Their first victory of the season the previous Saturday had instilled some much- needed confidence, and Mark Druce scored his third goal in three games since his loan move from Oxford.

The outcome remained unresolved until five minutes from time when Forster, who had earlier drawn a spectacular save from Farrelly, finally put Brentford out of sight.

But there was no doubting the man of the match, who came off to rapturous applause a few minutes before the end, looking a touch miffed that he had lost the opportunity of his second hat-trick of the season. But the 23-year-old Asaba, who joined Brentford two years ago from non-League football, is now the country's leading scorer and his decision to give up a degree course in money, banking and finance at Middlesex University is looking a sound investment.

Goals: Asaba (24) 1-0; Berry (30) 1-1; Taylor (41) 2-1; Asaba (59) 3-1; Druce (62) 3-2; Forster (85) 4-2.

Brentford (4-3-3): Dearden; Hurdle, McGhee, Ashby, Anderson; Smith, Hutchings, Abrahams (Bent, 51); Taylor, Asaba (Harvey, 87), Forster. Substitute not used: Fernandes.

Rotherham United (4-3-3): Farrelly; Sandeman, Breckin, Richardson, Hurst; Crawford, Dobbin (Glover, 85), McGlashan; Berry (Roscoe, 65), Hayward, Druce. Substitute not used: Fearon.

Referee: S Bennett (Dartford).

Bookings: Brentford: Smith. Rotherham: McGlashan, Hurst.

Man of the match: Asaba.

Attendance: 6,137.