Goalless Draw Ends K’s Time at Kingsmeadow
“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” The Hollow Men T. S. Elliot.
Did you dream about Ks last game at Kingsmeadow? What did you expect? After a somewhat meandering season, Ks impressive late charge towards the relegation zone at least offered hope that the last afternoon down Jack Goodchild Way might mean something, as Tolfs came forward to bundle in a corner to keep Ks in the Isthmian Premier. Surely that was how the script was written?
Well… no. Selfishly, Craig Edwards and his competence ruined all of that, as 10 points from the previous four games ensured a stress-free final day at home for Ks, barring a 14 goal swing and a heap of other results going the wrong way.
Instead, the real drama came courtesy of the visitors, Havant and Waterlooville, at the other end of the table, who knew a win, or any kind of slip up from Bognor, would ensure them of the title and promotion to the National League South.
For much of the game, it was pretty tough to tell which side were seeking promotion and which had narrowly avoided relegation. Ks were tough, resilient, disciplined and carried the bigger threat in the first half through a combination of Ryan Moss’ strength, Joe Turner’s direct running and Aaron Lamont’s guile. Charlie Wassmer came close with a header and Tom Derry failed to corral a cross under pressure from the visitor’s defense. At the other end, Rob Tolfrey impressively tipped Theo Lewis’ header over the crossbar.
An early second half goal for Bognor against Met Police gave Havant the nudge they needed and most of the last half hour was played out in the Ks half. However an impressive Ks back five kept the visitors at bay – Sam Page and Wassmer both threw themselves in front of everything and on the one occasion they didn’t make it, Jason Prior was wasteful at the back post and could only find the side-netting. Lewis came close to providing a goal worthy of winning any title, meeting James Hayter’s cross with a gorgeous bicycle kick that was inches away from perfection, but instead bounced off the crossbar and over. But it didn’t matter, Bognor conceded and could only draw, so Kingmeadow's goaless afternoon sufficed for the visitors. Havant celebrated, claiming the title and sparking the rare sight of both sets of fans invading the pitch – one lot starting the title-winning party, the other saying goodbye to their home of three decades.
There was no late, romantic winner. In fact the only real fireworks came from an impromptu display in a nearby back garden. Instead, as the minute’s ticked down the atmosphere softened: stories were shared and a few final blasts of “Walking down Jack Goodchild way” were shouted, shouted with a new sense of mournfulness.
Ks final afternoon at Kingsmeadow then – no drama, no on field importance for the hosts, instead mere bystanders in someone else’s story, watching on forgotten as the world sent congratulations to another team. Which I guess was sadly fitting.
Match report by Jamie Cutteridge.