Night and Day
match report by Taimour Lay
Cast your mind back to K’s a few years ago, in the era when Alan Dowson husbanded his resources and aimed to keep K’s competitive at Kingsmeadow. There were quite a lot of games, I seem to remember, with Allan Tait and Craig Mullen upfront, Simon Huckle in midfield behind them and an endless, interchangeable cast of wingers. Moments of inspiration usually came from Matt Pattison, a shy schoolteacher who would sit in the bar after games with his dad and drink orange squash.
It was a time of triers, chasers and harriers. It was a time of 11th-place finishes and London Senior Cup runs. It was a time of 300-plus crowds and good noise behind the goal and a general sense that stasis was better than strife.
Perhaps I’ve merged different seasons and squads. But this is what I remember. Allan Tait advancing down the channels with his head down, Mullen getting a rendition of “he’s one of our own” regardless of contribution and Pattison juggling the ball before spraying a pass to someone who miscontrolled it. All played in a home ground with the words “Kingstonian” on the top of the main stand, from whose red seats only the odd shout of dissent could be heard.
And now on to experience, to 2019, when an 11th place finish would represent something else. Not happy survival but hopeless failure in the context of a season when ambitions were higher. And the exasperation emanates from all sides of a ground that is not our own.
A fifth straight defeat on a rainy Wednesday night, marked by one of the most shapeless and dispiriting second-half displays seen for many a year, may prove a watershed for this K’s team. Because something is going badly wrong out there. Not in terms of effort so much as in common purpose and pattern. Potters Bar Town, without a win since 11 December 2018, could and should have been at least three up midway through the second period, Lee O’Leary pulling the strings just as he had when we lost to them in August. There have been ups and downs in the six months since, but the team is arguably in no greater shape overall.
Watching Scott Day start brought back some memories of simpler, better, more innocent times. As supersub in recent weeks, here he was down the right in a formation seemingly built to bamboozle, then he was popping up at left-back, then he was upfront, then he was tackle-passing in the middle. We all dreamed of a team of Scotty Days – and now it was actually happening.
In that older era of Dowson-midtable finishes, of limited budgets and pragmatism, Day would have been a folk hero. Now he’s a totem for an older style and a present malaise.
When he went off after an hour, the game was of course gone. Former K Ben Ward-Cochrane (a promising Craig Edwards signing) had scored two past Rob Tolfrey. A late Andrew Musungu consolation in injury time fooled no one about the result. K’s tried to mount a comeback on an ever-heavier pitch but there was a look in our players’ eyes that cried “help!”. It’s been offered from the terraces since October 2017. It may yet need to come from elsewhere.
Potters Bar Town: Nikola Tzanev, Chris Doyle, Andrew Lomas, Sean Bonnett-Johnson, James Budden, Sean Grace, Keegan Cole, Lee O'Leary, Josh Hutchinson, Bradley Sach, Ben Ward-Cochrane.
Subs: George Nicholas (for Keegan Cole, 58m), Dernell Wynter (for Josh Hutchinson, 64m), Mahrez Bettache (for Bradley Sach, 79m), Tyrese Owen, Stefan Powell.
Goal scorers: Ben Ward-Cochrane (30m, 0-1), Ben Ward-Cochrane (57m, 0-2), Andrew Musungu (90m+1, 1-2).