K’s slip to defeat at Earlsmead
Here's the thing: up until the hour-mark at Earlsmead, it was strongly arguable [ie. strongly argued by me] that, contrary to the fans' defeatism and the players' apparent lassitude, the season was still very much ON - with Enfield and Met Police drawing elsewhere, a K's win against Harrow, combined with two not impossible reverses for our rivals on the final weekend, would mean a play-off spot and an away semi-final away to Hendon, who, scarred by losing out on the title, would inevitably capitulate, leading to a Hispter Royale winner-takes-all bank holiday final against Dulwich Hamlet at which Matt Drage would loyally score an own goal in the final minute to send us into the Vanarama National League South on a wave of pink trousers and ironic t-shirts....
As it happened, K's contrived to lose this game 2-0, turning the most elaborately constructed permutations into dust; indeed, once both Enfield and Met Police had gone ahead in their respective matches, even I – and perennial optimist Simon Bell – had to accept that, yes, we were heading to a point at which the words “mathematical impossibility” had to be uttered; or, to use a shorter phrase employed by many others seven days earlier: “Season OVER”.
It would be wrong to say K's didn't try. Mark Bitmead looked interested and occasionally interesting. Elvis Hammond toiled. Steve Butterworth, returning to his old club, roamed with intent if not effect. We had two shots. I bought a bubble-gum flavoured drink for 80p. A child wept. Rob Tolfrey and Aaron Goode sunbathed with us behind the goal.
But, when all is said and done, this wasn't the defeat which ended our chances. A Ryman Premier season is killed slowly, an agonising death by a 1000 minor disappointments. Number 999 just happened to come here in the 38th minute when the perhaps inaptly named Ryan Hope turned in a cross. No 1000 followed midway through the second period when Marc Charles-Smith converted a penalty, awarded for reasons unknown.
The Harrow crowd were in uncharacteristically fevered mood, not only managing to cheer when their goals went in but even, at one second-half juncture which will live long in the memory for all of those privileged to hear it, striking up a chant of “Harrow! Harrow!” The reason? They needed a win to stave off lingering relegation fears. We were content to let them have their moment in the April sun.
Match report by Taimour Lay.