Brentford 1 Barnsley 2
The sheer agony of it.
QPR did their bit, denying West Brom the win that would have guaranteed the Baggies automatic promotion if the Bees could just maintain their composure and find another of the wins that have kept coming since the restart.
Instead they were unable to get it over the line.
They took an age to rediscover anything like their normal form on a night of unrelenting drama and tension but they were up against a Barnsley side fighting for their lives who knew only a win would give them a chance of staying up.
That is why both sides poured forward in the dying embers of a flawed but enthralling contest – the match tied at 1-1 at of no use to either side.
In the end, it was sub Clarke Oduor who turned in a low cross at the far post to break Brentford hearts, which had soured with hope after Josh Dasilva’s 73rd minute equaliser for Thomas Frank’s men – the result of another of those amazing runs from half way by Said Benrahma.
You would have backed the Bes to go on and finish the job at that stage, such was the adrenalin rush. But to be fair to the Tykes, they were as determined a side as we have seen at Griffin Park all season and were arguably the better side. They will stay up if Wigan’s 12-point deduction is upheld.
For the Bees, they must now pick themselves up for the play-offs – which they had begun to believe was not going to be their fate. It means this is not to be the final match at Griffin Park after all.
The first half felt particularly agonising for the Bees – who looked at times as if their confidence and energy had been sapped beyond repair by the weekend defeat at Stoke.
Barnsley were robust, quick and determined to keep the heat on and their endeavour was rewarded four minutes before the break when Callum Styles drove in smartly from the left edge of the area.
That came only six minutes after news filtered through from the Hawthorns that West Brom were trailing to QPR and that the Bees were actually in that coveted second place.
But in spite of a poor half, Thomas Frank’s men still fashioned two glorious chances – both superbly saved by a very vocal Jack Walton in the Barnsley goal.
His block of a full-blooded drive from Benrahma was impressive enough, but his reaction save to turn a close-range Bryan Mbeumo effort onto a post was even more spectacular.
The evening took another turn for the worse because of events elsewhere. West Brom were soon leading against Rangers at the start of the second half and suddenly a three-goal swing was required.
Then we heard that Ebe Eze had made it 2-2 and with an added spring in their step, the Bees poured forward and found a leveller. It just needed one more twist, but alas it came at the wrong end of the pitch.
It has been a brilliant campaign and can still end in glory, but the pain of such a near miss will be so very hard to cast aside. Frank’s job as a motivator will be called upon like never before as they now face Swansea City in that play-off semi-final.
Fulham, waiting in the wings in the event of loss for West Brom, could not summon the win they needed at Wigan to profit. Their 1-1 draw condemns them to a clash with Cardiff City in the other play-off semi-final.
Brentford: David Raya - Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry (Jensen 60) – Marcondes, Norgaard, Dasilva – Mbeumo, Watkins, Benrahma. Subs not used: Canos, Valencia, Dervisoglu, Jeanvier, Fosu, Baptiste, Daniels, Roerslev
Brentford: David Raya - Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock (Fosu 70), Henry – Marcondes (Canos 70), Norgaard, Dasilva – Mbeumo (Baptiste 87), Watkins, Benrahma. Subs not used: Jensen, Valencia, Dervisoglu, Jeanvier, Daniels, Roerslev