Heartbreak Again For Brentford, Which Loses In A Promotion Playoff For The Ninth Time In A Row

Hello darkness, my old friend.

Brentford has been out of the English first division since 1947 — 73 years — and the Bees' 2-1 loss to Fulham in the Championship playoff final ensured their dream of the top flight will have to wait at least another year. The cagey match was poised at nil-nil after 90 minutes, but two Fulham goals by left back Joe Bryan in the second half of extra time gave Fulham the victory at Wembley.

This season was the ninth time Brentford qualified for a promotion playoff, and it was the ninth time the club failed to win the playoff. 

Since 1985 alone, the club has lost seven straight finals, either in playoffs or cups. With the defeat to Fulham, Brentford now holds the dubious honor of participating in the most promotion playoffs without winning the final.

The Bees may have finished 12 points behind champion Leeds United this year, but Brentford played like a champion.

Brentford spent 37.6 percent of game time this season in a winning position, highest in the Championship. The Bees also finished first in goals scored and second in goals allowed. 

The team ranked in the top two in most important offensive and defensive statistical categories, including shots faced per goal conceded and shots faced per match.

Expected goals, though, is where Brentford really excelled. Based on expected goals scored and conceded, the Bees should have finished in second place with 101 points, a full 11 points ahead of third-place West Brom.

Alas, the season is not determined by expected goals. In reality, Brentford finished third, just two points out from automatic promotion despite a late-season, eight-game winning streak. After utilizing a masterful second-leg performance to defeat Swansea 3-2 in the playoff semifinals, the Bees could not vanquish a strong Fulham side in the final.

They call the Championship the most difficult league in the world for a reason. A grinding 46-match league slate came down to a single match, which Brentford was desperately unlucky to lose. The Bees will be picked as promotion favorites next year, but as we all know: in the Championship, nothing is guaranteed.