Ks boss Dowson admits Enfield clash is a must win game
“Season over” was the rogue message from the Kingstonian twitter account on Saturday, swiftly revised to remind fans of the London Senior Cup.
But there’s no doubt that a once lively Ryman Premier League campaign has been slowly strangled to death by five defeats in a row since mid-February.
This latest reverse, 2-0 at home to a competent Bury Town side, had all the hallmarks of the last few weeks: bad defending, a shapeless midfield and little on show upfront.
“I’ve got to re-plan again, everybody knows it and that’s what I’ll do,” said manager Alan Dowson, who seemed as bemused as the fans by the recent downturn.
“There’s people out of form, obviously, and we’ve had four blanks out the last six games, and we’re conceding plenty.”
Asked if any hopes of a play-off place remained, Dowson said that tonight’s game against Enfield Town was a last chance to get things “back on track”.
Fifth place is now 10 points away, an unthinkable gap earlier this year when Kingstonian were scoring freely and aiming high.
It is a measure of how poor Ks were that Wade Small’s sending-off before half-time can hardly be said to have affected this result.
The striker was booked for dissent and referee Paul Howard did not hesitate to hand him a second yellow just 10 seconds later after he sarcastically clapped the original decision.
But Kingstonian were already one-down by then. Warren Whitely’s curled finish in the 11th minute was a fine one but what led up to the chance was less aesthetically pleasing as three Ks defenders failed to do keep the ball out the box.
A better second-half display, in which Tom Bird made progress down the left and top scorer Andre McCollin chased hard, was undone by a penalty conceded by Matt Pattison.
His challenge on Sam Reed could charitably be described as clumsy. Craig Parker converted the spot-kick past goalkeeper Rob Tolfrey, who had made three good saves to keep the score down.
There have been moments of real progress in 2012/13 for a club that want to be playing in the Conference South.
But a combination of bad luck, wasteful finishing and a glut of weather-related postponements just when momentum was being gained, has instead led to drift and disappointment.
“We’d have to strip it down and rebuild,” said Dowson of the prospect of another season at step three of the non-league system.
Standing still can often feel like going backwards.