With the ‘devastating’ conclusion to the season still raw, Scott Carson looks towards finishing the job next season with the ‘team he loves’.
Second-half goals by Ryan Sessegnon and Denis Odoi at Craven Cottage erased Derby County’s 1-0 advantage after the first leg of the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final and saw Fulham move on to Wembley.
On Monday night, Carson kept the Rams in the game with a handful of crucial saves. Most notably, when his instinctive reaction denied Aleksandar Mitrovic from close range after Matt Targett whipped in a cross.
Following a dominant performance by the Rams at Pride Park Stadium on Friday night, the Cottagers came back fighting on their home turf.
Eventually their persistence paid off, and the Derby No. 1 paid credit to Fulham.
Carson told RamsTV: “At one point I thought ‘Is this my night? is this our night?’ But quickly into the second half that all changed.
“Fulham, between them and Wolves, they were by far the best football teams in the division and we knew it was going to be tough.
“We knew we were the underdogs from the first whistle and we just couldn’t hold on at the end. We are devastated and it is really hard to take. It’s the worst feeling in a footballer’s career.
He added: “No disrespect to the Championship but we wanted to play in the Premier League, everyone does.
“We had a great opportunity to do it and we showed a lot of fight and desire in the last few weeks to get ourselves back in. We all have to look back and see what went wrong in the season, there were too many inconsistent performances.”
The Rams finished sixth in the league, improving three places from their previous campaign in the first full season under Gary Rowett.
Carson believes the team should be satisfied with their season after reaching second in the league over Christmas then showing their resilience when they fought their way back into a play-off position after temporarily dropping out.
Carson said: “It’s been a rollercoaster season again, we all wish it could be plain sailing and we win every single game and go up like that, but it is the Championship and there are no easy games.
“In the end we did ourselves proud, we gave ourselves a chance in the play-offs, and we knew we were up against one of the best teams in the league. Over the two legs they were the best football side.”
It was a historic season for 32-year-old Carson who kept 20 clean sheets for the first time in his career.
The wounds of a play-off run cut short may still be fresh, however, Carson’s aspirations of reaching the Premier League with Derby are still at the forefront.
“Sitting in the dressing room and thinking we have to do it again next season. It’s 46 games again and it’s hard to take,” he said.
“Derby is the place I have felt most at home and I love it here. I want to play in the Premier League with Derby.”