Five minutes into the game on Sunday I experienced what I have come to know over the years as ‘that old sinking feeling’ and, boy, did we sink.
The defeat to Carlisle at Wembley was the fourth showpiece game I’ve attended (two play-off finals and now two league trophy finals) and needless to say that on each occassion we’ve performed dreadfully.
As a battle-hardened Bees supporter I can take most defeats in my stride but a loss in a big match such as the Paint Pot Trophy Final always afflicts a special kind of pain that fuses existential despair with an acute physical sickness.
Or perhaps I I’m being over the top and I should just put the defeat into perspective? Turn the other cheek? Take the rough with the smooth? Put it down to experience? Roll with the punches? (That’s enough cliches - Ed).
It was after all just the Paint Pot Trophy - a trophy that couldn’t be more Mickey Mouse if it talked in a high-pitched voice and hung around with a dog called Pluto. That’s a small crumb of comfort to grab old of, I suppose, but it’s a crumb of comfort nevertheless.
For whatever reason the team did not play to its potential on the day. There was little between the two sides but Carlise controlled their nerves (and the midfield) and throughly deserved the victory.
There has been a bit of debate about Nicky Forster’s team selection but as far as I’m concerned he picked the correct eleven. O’Connor for Neilson, Grabban for Schlupp and Bean for Reid are all possible alternative selections that have been suggested, but as far I’m concerned the team that took to field at 1.30pm on Sunday had it in them to put in a decent performance. Sadly, for them and us, it just didn’t happen.
The defeat and its deflating effect musn’t be allowed to take away from the cracking job Forster has done as manager so far. While I‘m doubtful a play-off place is still achievable, I’d be delighted to see us finish the season strongly so that he can secure the job for the long-term.