MARK Beevers said Millwall players were “desperate” to win promotion to the Championship, but he refused to use the absence of the injured Byron Webster as an excuse for the play-off final defeat to Barnsley.
Beevers scored at Wembley last Sunday, but the Lions lost 3-1 after a late change to their starting XI when Tony Craig replaced Webster.
That disrupted boss Neil Harris’ plans after preparations had included Webster, who had started 28 consecutive games.
The change had an effect on Millwall’s defensive organisation and they conceded two goals inside 20 minutes, but Beevers stressed the squad should have been strong enough to cope.
Beevers said: “That’s football, isn’t it? There have been games in the past where other players have pulled out in the warm-up and others have had to come in.
“TC is an experienced player. It was a massive blow for Webs, he gets to Wembley and then has to pull out in the warm-up.
“He did a session or two and he thought he was good to go. He was desperate to play at Wembley but it was just one of those things where he tweaked it a little bit in the warm-up. The lads were devastated for him but we had to go out there with a job to do. Unfortunately, we just came up short.
“To lose any player is a blow but I think we’ve got a good squad and players that can come in and fill lads’ boots who have come off the pitch. Collectively we just fell short but the lads have had a good season.
“It’s hard not to think about the defeat. The manager said there’s nothing he can say to the lads to make them feel any better, it’s the worst place to lose a game, at Wembley when you’ve come so far.
“And the lads were so desperate to win the game, every single one of us was desperate. But that’s football, sometimes it doesn’t work out.
“It’s still been a good season, I don’t think you can get away from that, but obviously it’s ended in disappointment.”
Beevers’ goal, against his hometown club, looked like it would swing the momentum of the contest, but Millwall never really looked like they would do enough to beat League One’s form side in 2016.
“It’s always nice to score but the result overshadows it,” Beevers admitted.
“It was all friendly banter before the game. Some of my family are Barnsley fans and Millwall fans at the same time so it was tough for them.
“If you’d looked at it at the start of the season you’d have said Millwall were never going to play Barnsley in the play-off final but that’s how it panned out. It wasn’t that strange for me because once I get on the pitch it’s like any other game.
“I just play to the best of my ability but unfortunately as a team we didn’t quite get it (Sunday).”
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