Matt Grimes: Swansea City better equipped for play-offs after last year’s Brentford loss

Matt Grimes believes Swansea City are better placed for the Championship play-offs than they were going into last season’s semi-final defeat to Brentford.

Swansea go to Barnsley in the first leg of this year’s semi-final on Monday.

Grimes, 25, feels Steve Cooper’s side will be driven on by the pain of the Brentford loss.

“This year we have gone from strength to strength as a team,” the Swansea captain said.

“Last year it was my first time in the play-offs and a lot of the players’ first time.

“This year it will be very different. We have got a lot of players who have been there and done it.

“We have had more points, more clean sheets, better defensive record. So from that point of view I do think we are better equipped this year.”

Swansea beat Brentford 1-0 in last season’s semi-final first leg at the Liberty Stadium, but it was the Bees who reached the final after a 3-1 victory in the return game.

“It was very disappointing last year,” Grimes added. “You don’t want to feel like that again. That can serve as motivation going into this one.”

Swansea beat Barnsley twice during the regular season and Tykes boss Valerien Ismael has said his team begin the semi-final as underdogs.

Yet it is Barnsley who are in better form, with 13 wins in the final 19 games of the regular season carrying them into the play-offs.

Swansea, by contrast, saw their automatic promotion challenge fade as they produced their worst run of the campaign in the closing stages.

But Grimes says the “overriding emotion is excitement” as Swansea look to return to the Premier League after three years in the second tier.

“The 46-game season builds you up into final three games of the play-offs, and all the hard work you’ve done you want to put on a show in both legs and hopefully the final,” the midfielder added.

“They are massive games, so experience of big games obviously helps.

“The lads who experienced it last year, it holds us in good stead going into this year.

“You need to turn up on the day and you need some real quality over the two legs because Barnsley are a very tough opponent. We have to be at the top of our game.”

Barnsley come to Wales for the decisive second leg on Saturday, 22 May, with Brentford taking on Bournemouth in the other semi-final.

BBC News