Beehive Yourself: Brentford pay penalty as play-off dream fades

12:00 24 April 2012

Sam Saunders missed a crucial penalty against Stevenage

Sam Saunders missed a crucial penalty against Stevenage

PA Archive/Press Association Images

“But no, as we have come to expect, Brentford go hiding on the big occasion”

Brentford’s Sam Saunders cut a forlorn figure as the final whistle blew at Broadhall Way on Saturday. If he could have apologised to each and every travelling supporter behind the same goal he had fluffed his second half spot kick, he probably would have.

Defeat to Stevenage seemingly brings the curtain down on the Bees late assault on the play-offs. The optimist inside us all will chirp up that if we beat Sheffield Wednesday this coming Saturday and Stevenage were to lose at Sheffield United, we would be going to Chesterfield with an outside shout of sneaking into the top six through the back door. That said, it would still be a slimmer chance than Fulham selling out an away end but it would still be a chance - so much more than we could have hoped for after grotesque defeats at Orient and Bournemouth.

Snap back to reality. We’re five points off with just two games to go - it’s not going to happen. This is Brentford we’re talking about. It was all set up for us to storm into the top six on Saturday. Notts County succumbed to a shock home defeat to Bury, courtesy of a brace from Mike Grella, and Carlisle suffered heartbreak in the dying moments at Hillsborough. Had we have put away the two penalties, we would be sitting pretty in sixth place.

But no, as we have come to expect, Brentford go hiding on the big occasion (reference Birmingham ‘95, Crewe ‘97, Reading ‘02, Stoke ‘02, Sheffield Wednesday ‘05, Swansea ‘06 and Carlisle ‘11 to name but a few). Troubled striker Clayton Donaldson strutted up to the spot in the first half, sporting fluorescent pink boots, before producing a powderpuff effort that barely rattled the crossbar.

Saunders’ effort had slightly more credibility, opting for placement over ‘power’. But at the end of the day, it still failed to bother the Stevenage keeper as it struck the post; an almost carbon copy of his penalty miss against Southampton in last season’s final home game. The former Dagenham midfielder looked distraught as the Bees squandered chances and ultimately their play-off hopes. But he did offer the game’s only Brentford highlight - a trademark free kick that left Chris Day rooted to the turf beneath his feet.

So into the summer we go, a time of pre-season optimism and comfortable victories against local non-league sides over-inflating our expectation levels. In typical Brentford fashion, it was on a plate for us and we blew it. But there is still plenty of reason for optimism in TW8 this summertime. In Uwe, we trust.

To follow Tom on Twitter, go to @griffinparktom

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