By Tony Leighton
Reaching the Sky Bet League 1 Play-Offs will not be good enough for in-form Brentford this season, says Harlee Dean, as the young central defender prepares for a vital Tuesday evening clash against promotion rivals Peterborough United.
With a six-match unbeaten run behind the fourth in the table Bees ahead of their home game against the third-placed Posh, Dean has set his sights firmly on automatic promotion following his team's traumatic end to last term.
The London outfit were famously robbed of a top-two place by Doncaster Rovers in the dying moments of their last League 1 game of the campaign, then they got through to the Play-Off Final but lost 2-1 to Yeovil Town at Wembley.
Former Dagenham and Redbridge and Southampton player Dean hit the Bees goal on that fateful May afternoon. Scoring at Wembley was no consolation, but the defeat has fired his determination to reach the Championship this term.
The 22-year-old defender told football-league.co.uk: "I don't want to be involved in the Play-Offs again, but neither do I want to be a League 1 player next season, so we've got to make sure that we finish in those top two places.
"Missing out last season, especially with the way it happened, was a massive blow. But a lot of our squad are young lads and we put the huge disappointment behind us pretty quickly, whereas if we were older we might have dwelt on it.
"Admittedly, we didn't make the best start to this season, but with some new players coming into the club it was a bit of a transition period for us and the starting line-up was being changed around week-in, week-out early on.
"We're more settled now, though. We've had the same back four and midfield three for the last six league games and we've been getting results, keeping clean sheets, and that's given us a confident, positive feeling that we aim to keep going."
Dean and his colleagues can be proud of their recent run of clean sheets - five in a row including a 5-0 FA Cup win against non-league Staines - and on current form they should be confident of another shut-out against Peterborough.
Posh are a point ahead of Brentford in the table but have lost each of their last four League 1 games, scoring just one goal in the process - that is some comedown for a team that traditionally hit the net on a regular basis.
"It should be a good time to play Peterborough," said Dean, "but they'll be desperate to get a result and we will have to be on our guard. We'll be aiming to keep our run going though, so we'll be out to stop them bouncing back."
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