West Bromwich Albion saw their season ended by Aston Villa in the Championship play-off semi-final on Tuesday evening, and after the match their fans headed to social media to reflect on a moment of madness which may have cost them the tie.
The Baggies went into the second leg in front of their own supporters trailing 2-1 from the first game at Villa Park, but with the belief that they could force their way back into the contest, despite the suspensions to Dwight Gayle and Hal Robson-Kanu.
West Brom had to weather an initial storm from Villa, but once they had done so, they set about levelling the tie as early as possible.
Baggies fans didn’t have too long to wait for that dream to become a reality either. Craig Dawson rose highest to flick in a header in the first half to cancel out the visitors’ lead on aggregate.
The match inevitably became nervy and tense from there on in, but it turned on a huge moment in the second half, when West Brom captain and talisman Chris Brunt was dismissed for a second booking, for lunging in on John McGinn.
That resulted in the Baggies having to sacrifice a forward player, and then as players tired in extra time they had to withdraw another forward as they looked to take the tie to penalties.
They got it to the shootout, but were soon regretting that after Mason Holgate and Ahmed Hegazy missed their first two spot kicks, and there was to be no way back from there for West Brom.
After the match the focus of attention among Baggies fans on social media was that dismissal for Brunt. They were united in their acknowledgement that the red card was deserved, and also in how much it cost their side overall.
Here are some of their messages:
Huge credit to #WBA for the effort & taking it all the way to pens with 10 men but it was always going to be a huge uphill task with the quality #AVFC had left on the pitch & bringing on Jedinak. Adomah aside, they were cool, calm penalties. Brunt red card the turning point.
— Steve Hermon (@SteveHermon) May 14, 2019
Gutting to lose like that but I'm so proud if the lads tonight. On top in the 2nd half until Brunt got sent off, and to hold on for so long with 10 men, no striker on the pitch, and a midfield of Morrison, Tosin, and Harper, is some achievement.#WBAAVL #WBA #WestBrom
— Dominic Cox (@Dominic_s_Cox) May 14, 2019
Brunt, great servant, but cost us massively #wba
— Jordan Kramer (@Jord012) May 14, 2019
Why you would start out with Holgate, Hegazi and Adarabioyo as your first penalty takers, is beyond me. Chris Brunt getting his second yellow should be ashamed. Gutted. #WBA
— Tim (@twessels88) May 14, 2019
Cant wait to see all the "Brunt is a God" crowd after that. Cost us a chance tonight. Get him and mozza sold as soon as possible and then start the massive rebuild after #wba
— Scott (@FuzzybuttTaz) May 14, 2019
I’m absolutely gutted for Brunt… if it had to be anyone I wish it wasn’t him so much… that will have hurt him #wba
— hannah ✨ (@Hannanar) May 14, 2019
Going down to 10 men cost us a trip to Wembley. Brunt great servant to the club, but he let the atmosphere get the better of him with that challenge. #WBA
— Anup Patel (@anxp_9) May 14, 2019
Thought the team did brilliant tonight. So gutted it didn't happen for us. I love Brunt but that challenge was stupid and, ultimately, feel it cost us. You could tell he was distraught. Dawson/Hegazi brilliant tonight. Well, they all were. #WBA
— Adam Townsend (@Adam_Townsend) May 14, 2019
Incred performance from the lads tonight but there was something poetic about Brunt’s sending off possibly costing us the game.He’s a club legend but it felt like the end of an era.We’d have got shredded in the Prem,let’s take this chance to overhaul the squad and regroup 💪 #wba
— Sunil Patel (@sjpatel212) May 14, 2019
Disappointing night but for the first time in a long time, the players put in a performance to be proud of. Regardless of the lottery of penalties, Gayle/Brunt Red's cost us in both games. Life goes on, onwards and upwards. #WBA
— Rav (@Ravsta87) May 15, 2019