Huddersfield Town’s end-of-season slump is of little consequence in the Play-Offs, according to former Town favourite Marcus Stewart.
Now assistant manager at hometown club Bristol Rovers, Stewart can be considered a Play-Off expert, having experienced both the highs and lows of the knock-out competition during his playing days.
The heartache came in the 1995 Second Division Play-Off Final when his then Bristol Rovers team lost 2-1 to Town at Wembley, despite Stewart getting on the scoresheet.
Town finished fifth that campaign with Bristol Rovers fourth with the other two Play-Off sides Brentford and Crewe Alexandra signing off the league campaign in second and third respectively.
Wembley success eventually came five years later with Ipswich Town as the Suffolk outfit beat Barnsley 4-2 to claim a place in the Premier League.
George Burley’s side had been pushing for automatic promotion for the majority of the campaign before eventually losing out to Charlton Athletic and Manchester City.
But when it came to the knock-out competition, Stewart insisted the final league position was irrelevant – with it being more of a case of how the side handled the pressure.
“I think in the first couple of seasons when the Play-Offs first started where you finished in the league may have mattered,” said Marcus Stewart.
“But as times moved on it didn’t really matter where you finish.
“From a player’s point of view it was more about the pressure of the two games itself and how you handled it.
“Finishing third didn’t matter to me - we were chasing automatic promotion but it didn’t happen so we were in the Play-Offs.
“Before I arrived at the club they had a history of being near the top of the table but not quite making it.
“Getting to the final that year was one step further and to win it was a great achievement for the club.
Stewart also reflected on his other Championship promotion, with Sunderland as champions back in 2005 - an achievement which saw him sign-off his spell on Wearside before joining Bristol City the following season.
“That was a totally different kind of feeling – the Play-Offs are great, they keep the season alive but it’s a lot more pressure and it’s nice to have an early holiday,” Stewart added.
Check out the Examiner’s website throughout the weekend for more on Marcus Stewart, including the reason why he left Huddersfield Town.