10:00AM, Saturday 25 July 2020
Jon Underwood admitted he felt the absence of the crowd most keenly in the moments after the final whistle blew on Slough Town’s play-off challenge.
The Rebels lost Sunday’s eliminator tie 3-0 to Dartford at Arbour Park, and, although the supporters were missed before and during the tie, it was after the game that Underwood noticed it most.
A lot of money and hard work was pumped into staging this match, in the hope that it might spark a promotion push, but, as Underwood pointed out afterwards, the players still deserve credit for their efforts in finishing fifth this season, the club’s highest league finish in 22 seasons.
“There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into this tie, and a lot of effort that’s gone on off the field as well, for one game,” said Underwood. “But that’s the nature of play-off football.
“Obviously the circumstances are highly unusual, but it’s hard to take. It felt hard walking off at the end actually, and it sounds obvious but there was no one there to appreciate the players’ efforts. And the players have been brilliant.
“We’ve finished fifth in the league in only our second season at this level and we were up in the play-offs for most of the season. And it almost feels like that’s been forgotten a little bit because we’ve had the lockdown period.
“It’s important we don’t forget that. The lads have done the club proud over the last year and they’ve made real strides at this level. We’re now a side to be feared at this level and we’re up there with the promotion challengers and with some clubs that are far more established in the league than we are. So we’ve got to be proud of how far we’ve come. We’ve ended up coming up a little bit short today and we’ve got to look at how we can improve.”
Underwood and Baker will now reflect on the season and what’s needed to turn the Rebels into promotion contenders again. It’s likely some players will come in and others may go, but the club has improved in each of the seasons it’s been managed by the pair, and that’s what they’ll be looking for again when the new season kicks off.
“We’ll target the play-offs again but try to win them next time,” added Underwood. “It’s disappointing for us and we’ve got to pick ourselves up. Normally, when the play-offs end you know you’ve normally got a two month gap and then you’re coming back. But we don’t quite know yet what’s happening. We need to get over this pretty quickly and start planning for next year.”
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