SO near but yet so far — the story of a season that seemingly ended for Worcester City on Saturday.

So near on two occasions to a last-gasp winner that would have kept alive hope of that second promotion spot.

So far is the gap between what John Snape had before a flurry of exits close to the registration deadline and what he now has to call upon.

City initially coped admirably with the losses of Lee Hughes, Wayne Thomas and Nathan Vaughan followed by Brad Birch and Tyler Weir but this match showed why this is now a solid Midland League team rather than one with loftier ambitions.

You could not fault Worcester’s commitment, effort, work-rate or any of the other prerequisites at Boldmere.

Equally, you could not blame a lack of fortune. This was a good advert for the level contested by two decent sides as the Mikes defied their league position against City for a third time this season.

That reality will leave fans with mixed emotions. This level of capability suggests City will find it tough to navigate a route back up the pyramid as hoped when the three-tier drop was taken.

Many have questioned whether promotion should have been the aim in the first place, particularly since the latest accounts went public.

The current vibe seems to be that the club want to hold on to as many of the squad that remains as possible while fighting to live within their means.

In the likes of Dave Reynolds, Jordan Stoddart, Jamie Smith and Nathan Hayward, Snape has a good base of local players from which to build a competitive team should they succeed.

Alongside prospects such as goalkeeper Sean Dayus and attacking option Ethan Moran, two under-21 players who did not look out of place on Saturday, there is cause for a splash of optimism to take the edge off dashed expectations.

Like it or lump it, this is where the current City squad belongs and if further belt tightening is necessary next season then it seems certain supporters will have to settle for step five football for a while.

Some tidy passages of play were pleasing enough on the eye early on but neither team got out of third gear until Boldmere applied some pressure late in the first half.

Ben Usher-Shipway had been their shining light from the off but it was City that carved out the chance of the half two minutes before half-time.

Nick Turton, who had endured a torrid time up to then, dashed in behind only to be thwarted at the near post by keeper Lewis Fenney who then pushed away Moran’s curler on the rebound.

City moved in front seven minutes after half-time as Joel Ambalu marked his first start with a goal, springing the offside trap and shrugging off his marker to round Fenney and roll into the far corner.

Unsurprisingly, Usher-Shipway crafted a swift equaliser, dashing past Jamie Smith to find Rikardo Reid to slide in from six yards out with an hour played.

Not much happened from there until the game became stretched in the final 15 minutes.

Turton flashed wide from a Hayward centre and City built pressure with substitute Ben Robinson thumping straight at Fenney one-on-one with five minutes to go.

Boldmere created some havoc in the minutes that followed but the best chance to have the last laugh fell Worcester’s way in added time.

Jack Skinner’s kamikaze header back to Fenney ricocheted to James Baldwin on the left of the box but he slammed wide to sum up City’s fortunes in crunch moments this season.