Angry and bitterly-disappointed Rocks coach Darin Killpartrick reflected on another heartbreaking title near miss – and said it was one of the worst days of his life.
He spoke passionately of his intense disappointment immediately after a 1-1 draw with Met Police left Havant as the Ryman premier champions and Bognor facing another entry into the play-offs.
Killpartrick said the whole club needed to address why they could never quite get ‘over the line’ and admitted they faced a massive task to raise themselves for Thursday night’s home play-off semi-final with Wingate and Finchley, although pledged the management would get the players ready for their next challenge.
He went as far as saying only the death of a friend or family member could leave him feeling worse than how he felt at the team going so close to the title but missing out again.
Killpartrick admitted everyone in the dressing room was gutted and said: “It’s the story of our lives. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves but why we can’t ever cross the line is beyond me. This is my 16th year here and we can never cross the line.
“Today it wasn’t through lack of chances. In the first half we created six good clear-cut chances to score. We failed to even make the goalkeeper work. That’s the worrying bit.
“And then, I’ll have a look on the video but (for the Met Police equaliser) it looks like we get caught out of position. We get dragged into areas we don’t want to be in and then the ball comes across and it gets bundled in the goal. It’s a difficult pill to swallow.”
On a day when a win would have seen the Rocks crowned champions as Havant could only draw 0-0 at Kingstonian, Killpartrick felt the Rocks should have had a late penalty for a foul on James Crane.
“Even after they scored we had chances to make it 2-1. From where I was standing – and I am always trying to help referees – but that looked blatant to me. He takes a touch and the boy clips his feet. He might have gone down a bit easy, son’t get me wrong, but he still gets contact with his feet and it’s a blatant penalty for me. I’ll have to look on the video to get total recall of it but it looked like it for me.”
Killpartrick accepted the Rocks were still in the promotion mix with a play-off semi-final at home to fifth-placed Wingate and Finchley ahead of them. He said: “I understand that but I wanted to win that today. We’re not going to get a better chance of winning the league than today. I promise you that.
“They’d been beaten five times coming into this game and we couldn’t break them down. We couldn’t make their goalkeeper work enough. And if you want to win, that’s what you’ve got to do.
“You’ve got to be ruthless in both boxes and we weren’t. How many chances have we had? I don’t know.
“I don’t think it was nerves. I don’t think we played too badly passing the ball. We got into some good areas, it was just the quality of the ball in the box and the quality of the finish in the box. Then with our defending, we have to work on stopping crosses coming into the box. It’s madness, it’s madness.
“Apart from the death of friends or family members, this is probably the lowest I’ve been in my life in sport, or the worst day in my life.
“This is worse than the other times this has happened. I remember Chatham away (a promotion near miss in 2011). But this was on our own patch.
“I have to address myself, Jamie has to address himself and we have to address ourselves as a club. Why can’t we cross the line? I don’t know, I don’t know, and if anyone’s got any answers to come and help us then please come and tell us because I don’t know.
“We try to do everything right. I don’t know if it’s the big occasion or what, I really don’t.”
With Field hobbling off and Sami El-Abd having not been fit to start against Met Police, the staff will have to patch up the players ahead of the play-offs. Dylan Barnett also picked up an injury near the end of the game and there is some suggestion his loan from Brighton may be over anyway.
“We have to red-line this team every week to get the best out of them. And they’ve been absolutely brilliant. But I just think when it comes to these big games, I think we do need to have a look at who really, really, really wants to cross the line, who’s pushing really hard,” Killpartrick added.
“When we went to 1-1 I saw the team push again. Why couldn’t we do that at 1-0 and keep the ball?
“It’s David and Goliath for us. There was a great chance for us to do it today and we messed it up. We messed it up and I’m absolutely devastated. I need to pick myself up, let alone the team. And I will, don’t worry about that.. I know how to deal with myself and we’ll pick the team up.
“We’ve been in every other day trying to get everything right. Me and Jamie will have to talk to each other and see what we’re going to do before Thursday.
“But I’m really upset for the club. There’s a lot of hard work that’s gone in. There’s so much flipping hard work that’s gone in and to lose it like that again – again – is breaking my heart. I’m fuming.”
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