Captain Chris Brunt swallowed his heartbreak as Albion’s promotion challenge came to an agonising end to salute the return of a special Hawthorns atmosphere.
The Baggies bowed out of the Sky Bet Play-Offs semi-finals despite defeating Aston Villa 1-0 over 120 minutes but going out after a penalty shoot-out.
Albion levelled the 2-1 defeat in the first leg with a first-half Craig Dawson goal and were turning the screw in search of a winner until Brunt suffered an 80th-minute dismissal for a second booking.
The Baggies 10 men hung on through extra-time but missed out on a Wembley final as Villa edged the shoot-out 4-3, leaving the home side to exit the season to a standing ovation from The Hawthorns faithful.
The packed crowd roared Albion on all night and made it a proud occasion which, regardless of the disappointing outcome, no-one will forget in a hurry.
It was a point picked up by Brunty as the captain spoke after the game.
“We’re all desperately disappointed in the dressing room that we’re not going to Wembley,” he said.
“But the over-riding thing for me tonight was that we achieved something - the atmosphere here was unbelievable. In 12 years at the Club, it’s one of the best I’ve ever experienced in the stadium and hopefully we’ve got something back and we can take that into next season.”
Brunt was furious with himself about the challenge on Villa’s John McGinn which turned the tie back in Villa’s favour as Albion, already without injured key players and a suspended Dwight Gayle, dug in to force extra-time and penalties.
He said: “We worked so hard to get back into the tie and we did pretty well I felt. We took away everything they were good at and created quite a lot of stuff ourselves.
“Obviously going down to 10 men killed us - I can only apologise for that as it was my own fault. It took away a bit from our game although to be fair the reaction of the crowd and the lads was fantastic.”