So, the playoff long-shot dream is over, and what we all knew in our heart of hearts has been clarified – Brentford are almost, but not quite good enough to be considered genuine promotion candidates.
The defeat at Barnsley was a disappointing, and unexpected, end to our hopes of extending the season – the players simply didn’t react to going behind to an, albeit, lucky cross that found its way into the net, despite starting the game brightly, and it looked as if it was an energy-zapping plug being pulled from our backs long before the second goal went in.
It was the same in the stands too – Brentford fans had made the trip north in impressive numbers, and there was belief among the supporters on the way up and in the pubs before kick-off – but the realisation of how big a task the Bees had set themselves to even take the season to the final game next weekend was palpable. The Bees didn’t really look like getting back into the game to be fair, and Barnsley fully deserved the victory. I’m not sure what the pitch invasion was all about though – the Tykes are not out of the woods just yet!
We all know that the start of the season, where we played well but couldn’t buy a win, cost us ultimately, and of course there are glaring results scattered throughout the rest of the campaign where, if we’d held out, or had dealt better with parked bus defences, our playoff berth would be secured already – QPR and Millwall away… and Burton and Derby at home being prime examples.
I will, however, repeat what I have said on the Pride of West London Podcast and Beesotted Radio Show several times in recent weeks; that it has been another excellent season where we have probably learned more about our team, and what’s required to mount a sustained promotion push, than in previous seasons. We have maintained a level of consistency and set standards of expectation from our players, and although we are frustrated that the ‘if only’ factor got us so close, yet so far, to another playoff attempt – I think we all know we weren’t quite good enough.
On our day, yes, we are capable of beating any team in the division, with Wolves being the exception, but I am confident that if we can keep hold of the majority of the team, then sprinkle one or two new faces from elsewhere and the B team, then we will be prepared to go at least one step further next time – the last full season at Griffin Park.
When the dust has settled on the campaign, after the match with Hull City next weekend, I think we will all look back on 2017/18 with real pride – our team have played some of the best football any of have ever seen from boys in red and white – and we have some genuinely outstanding players in our ranks.
I’ll be honest and say that, in many ways, Saturday’s result was a slight relief – of course we were right to continue to believe and dream of going all the way – but in my eyes at least, it is better to have fallen just short and know exactly why than endure the negativity of more playoff hell, whether in the semis or at Wembley… for this season at least.
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