Any defeat is hard to take. Whether it be against Yeovil, as it was in our first home game, or Chelsea in our FA Cup tie that we were never meant to win. But this defeat hurts more than any of our defeats this season combined.
One kick away from promotion, 20 seconds away from the Play-Offs.
Not that the day was all bad. When two o’clock came the pubs were buzzing and the fans were in good voice. There was something in the air, something that felt like we actually believed that it would finally be our day.
Everyone seemed to be doing their best to get behind the team inside Griffin Park. Kevin O’Connor made sure to get the players to applaud the crowd after they had completed their warm-ups and one of our grounds men even went as far as being a cheerleader for all three sides of home support. I think that will stick in my mind, as well as other things.
And so the game began. The first half was nervy, as was expected before the game with very few chances. Doncaster came close when David Cotterill’s shot flew inches past Simon Moore’s post.
Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Doncaster tried to waste as much time as possible throughout both halves. I’m sure that Neil Sullivan had more time with the ball than anyone else on the pitch. That said, “Premier League” referee Michael Oliver did nothing to stop it, allowing Doncaster to pretty much do as they wished.
However, the deadlock was nearly broken in the first half by Bradley Wright-Phillips who poked his shot past Sullivan, only for it to hit the post. Before the game, Brentford had only hit the woodwork seven times – the lowest in League One.
There was also time for a defensive mix-up at the Bees’ end. Jake Bidwell very nearly headed the ball back past Moore after a communication blackout. Luckily for us, Shaleum Logan cleared it.
The Bees came out early for the second-half to a loud and very proud Griffin Park, knowing that in the next 45 minutes one of them could become a hero.
And so it was that Brentford dominated the second half. A very rough and Stoke-like Rovers side had no answer to the passing game that the Bees played in the middle of the park and before long it was like watching a game of bombardment.
Jonathan Douglas had the best chance of the second half when the ball dropped to him on the edge of the area, but the Irishman launched it high into the BIAS stand.
It looked like one of those days. Thanks to Donaster timewasting, the fourth official raised his board to signal five minutes of added time.
But then, Toumani Diagouraga was bundled down in the box, and, as if the footballing Gods themselves had intercepted to stop years of heartbreak for us, the Bees faithful, Mr. Oliver pointed to the spot.
There was a mix of celebration coupled with nerves as Marcello Trotta and O’Connor argued over the ball and who would take the spot kick that would end our curse.
Trotta stepped up and hit the bar. I can say no more about it. My head, like many of yours, immediately dropped into my hands as Doncaster took the ball up the pitch to score and win them the league.
Despair was all around Griffin Park and it was very clear to see. I myself could not move from my seat for about 20 odd minutes, my eyes completely transfixed on the Doncaster celebration unfolding right before my eyes and thinking “what if?”
But no more “what ifs?” Now we move onto the Play-Offs and our tie with Swindon. This really is last chance saloon and the team will need us to be behind them 100%. Especially Trotta.
We have the best team in the Play-Offs. We can do it this time.
See you at Swindon.