I guess it was with a large helping of hope, a small portion of prayer, a decent serving of belief and a side order of thinking that events over the past week may just have it written in the stars that this was to be our season.
I went into last night’s game full of anticipation. For the first time in a long long time football had made me nervous for a few days. Time yesterday seemed to drag towards kick off. I woke early thinking of the game and it was in my mind all day. Absent mindedly I sang Andre Ayew’s name in my head – I think silently but maybe it was why I was getting funny looks on video calls – this was the play-offs and maybe a Kev Johns speech was just around the corner.
When you have become the last team to seal a play off place you know you are – by league positions alone – the weakest team in the play-off mix and by the nature of the structure of the competition you end up playing the best side for the right to reach the final. You cling to the hope that your momentum and their hurt from missing out on an automatic spot may more than cancel each other out. And then you look for positives from two previous meetings this season before you realise that they beat you comprehensively twice.
But then you remember an incredible half hour of football just a few days before where you have turned an impossible situation into glory and you come back to that thought that maybe it is just destined to be your year once again.
And then you win the first leg thanks to a top quality goal, the opposition lose a man for the second leg, you can even miss a penalty and still win and that thought grows in size that it really is your year. A thought that is pretty much eradicated from your mind within fifteen minutes of the second leg that sees you concede not once, but twice. That hurt. Brentford did what they needed to do in that first fifteen minutes and we didn’t The gaping hole that Ollie Watkins had to run into for the first showed our defensive frailties at not being able to cover a quick counter attack and the second looked like many of the goals that we have conceded this season – it was just too easy.
By the time the third was scored and the camera panned to Steve Cooper shaking his head you just knew that whatever he had said minutes before at half time it certainly wasn’t “give them an extra goal at the start lads” and we were a beaten team. I was deflated, as deflated as most of you reading this would have been. It wasn’t the fact we were being beaten we were being beaten in one of those games where we just weren’t at the races and that was tough to watch.
Football and the play-offs though have that ability to throw in a curve ball when you least expect it. That came courtesy of Pontus Jansson who simply created a moment of madness that allowed Rhian Brewster to score again with a great finish. I’ll come back to Brewster but it was at that moment that my mind flashed back 7 days to Reading and Routledge chipping a keeper to start the most incredible period of football I think I have ever seen. This was history about to repeat itself right?
Back to Brewster and I firmly believe that if we can retain him next season we have the player who will score goals from nothing that turn draws into wins and also rans into promotion winners. He has so much good about him and if we can get him into a team where service is good then he will do the necessary for us. Time to be very nice to Jurgen Klopp!
Back to the game though and sat at home I thought that having given us a goal Brentford would wobble. They had lost their last two games of the season where one win would have been enough and they had gone from a coasting position to knowing that one more Swans goal would see an extra 30 minutes as a minimum needed. We had to put them under pressure. But we really didn’t.
I don’t know whether we had just ran out of steam or whether even at that point the 11 point differential between us and them over 46 points was too big a bridge to gap in ability but the only side that threatened a goal was Brentford. We huffed and puffed a little but but we certainly didn’t have enough to bring the house down so Brentford will need the bulldozers to do it for them.
In the end that belief that it was to be our year was misplaced, the hope was extinguished and the curtain came down on the 2019/20 season five days short of a year after it started for us. The new season is six weeks around the corner, it will be a short while before we see the fixtures for them but for now it wasn’t to be. Was it a full roller coaster? The last seven days certainly was and getting into the top six is no mean feat but when all is said and done, at the end of the day, the best team won and that is the last cliches of a night that never lived up to my hope and expectations.