‘Even in the future no words are going to make it easier to take’ – US Portsmouth keeper Tom Price on FA Vase semi-final heartache
It's the picture that perfectly illustrates how anyone associated with US Portsmouth is sure to be feeling in the coming days - if not weeks or months.
Tom Price sits alone on a bank at the Victory Stadium with head in hands.
The goalkeeper is trying to come to terms with the fact USP have missed out on a dream Wembley final - beaten 4-3 on penalties by Hellenic League Premier Division Binfield in the FA Vase last four.
But, slowly, as the squad and management staff begin to lift their heads, they will begin to realise how big an achievement just reaching the last four of a national competition was.
At least, that's how Price, who scored a penalty and saved from Sean Moore in the shoot-out, will be viewing it.
Among a lengthy list of positives, there's one thing that particularly stands out for him - the fact USP, from the 10th tier of English football, faced seven higher division opponents in eight FA Vase rounds and remained undefeated in normal time in all of them.
Price said: 'It’s just a fact of it is what it is - I thought they (Binfield) were the better side in general anyway - and take from it that we didn’t get beaten in 90 minutes.
‘Me and Sweeney (striker Andrew Todd) were stood there and it was emotional, we were saying the lads in our changing rooms don’t realise they’ve got another 10 years of trying that. But for me, Sweeney and TJ (Tom Jeffes) that’s it.
'Yes, we’re sad, but we’re sad for a different reason because it’s very difficult - yes we might have one more year in our legs - but actually that’s probably it. But most of the younger lads have got another 10 or 15 years left.
'Last night I probably couldn’t sleep because I was looking at Binfield’s Twitter and whatever.
‘But you look back and you take the positives from it - no-one beat us in 90 minutes and throughout the eight games (in the Vase run) we were only behind once against Bournemouth Poppies. We’ve always been in front other than that. That’s got a lot to say for itself I think.'
As events unfolded on the field against Binfield, Price was beginning to think it just might be USP's day.
Top scorer James Franklyn had fired them in front on 21 minutes, soon after Price had pulled off a fine stop to keep out a Sean Moore strike.
The clock kept ticking down, with USP just 10 minutes away from Wembley before Liam Ferdinand's smartly-taken finish forced penalties and eventual defeat for the hosts.
Price added: 'There was a lot through the game that went on. I thought me tipping it around the post in the first half - I was going the wrong way so it was fingertips. From then I started thinking ‘maybe’.
‘Then the Lord (Franklyn) scored and you start to think, ‘1-0 at half time, it’s just a clean sheet’.
‘They then hit the post and you start to think it could be it.
'You can talk about it forever and I think we will be talking about it when we’re old saying, ‘do you remember that run? What a great run’.
‘I was stood in the shower with Sweeney and there’s no words that will make anything better. Even in the future no words are going to make it easier to take.'