King looking forward to Welling chance
King looking forward to Welling chance

An injury time Brendan Kiernan penalty sent Welling United to victory over Chelmsford City and into the play-off decider.

It was a game of high drama that Welling manager Steve King found very hard to watch. He said “As a manager, you don’t enjoy play-offs. That’s my sixth one. They don’t get any easier. I don’t enjoy play-offs because you’re so wrapped up in the game.

You’re emotional. You’re seeing every emotion in the game. Every emotion goes through you. I don’t enjoy them but I’d rather be in them than not in them.”

There were seconds remaining when Welling were awarded the penalty and King admitted that he could barely watch. “I was up the touchline somewhere. You’re in the emotions of the game and I couldn’t look at it and I could look at it, then I hear the raw and my missus went up and my mum went up and I just knew that it was in.”

Before the late drama the game ebbed and flowed. King said “They started better than us without hurting us. I thought at two-nil we were comfortable. Then a forty-fifth minute goal through not marking. We came out (in the second half) and it was scrappy. It looked like we were defending brilliantly then they scored with a fluke. (It was a) great strike but Dan (Wilks) should be pushing it over.

He’s been big for us this year. He’s kept us in games, he’s made some magnificent saves. He’s been consistent all season and I didn’t want it to end like that for him.”

Conceding a goal just before half time was a terrible time and King admits that he didn’t hold back with his team talk. “I didn’t mince my words. I went a bit crazy.” He said. However, he was happy with the response. “They’ve gone out there and they’ve given me everything, as they always do. I just didn’t want to go out in the manner that we possibly may have gone out.

I’d rather go out against a team that properly beats us and we deserve to lose but I felt that for long periods of the game we were in control and they weren’t really hurting us.”

King understood exactly how his opposite number, Chelmsford Manager Rod Stringer, would have felt. “I feel it for Rod.” He explained “I like Road. Me and him talk a lot. Rod’s won the league and been in the play-offs three times. I’ve won the league and been in the play-offs six times. I know how hard it is. It’s a grind for ten months in the season. It doesn’t stop for us. And a lot of credit should go to Rod as he works hard and sometimes doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

Rod was hoping that it would be third time lucky for him. I’m hoping that it’s third time lucky for me in the play-off finals because I’ve been in there twice and lost.”

Despite the heartbreak that King has suffered in play-offs, he is adamant that they are right for the league rather than first two over the line. He said “Although I don’t enjoy them, I think play-offs are a good thing because the top ten have got a chance of the play-offs. It keeps the whole league going thinking they can get in, get in, get in.

If it’s just the top two all the clubs from fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, they’re never going to get in the top two so they’re wasting their season. Obviously, you’re always going to get the odd one that talks and says ‘We finished eighteen points ahead of them and they won.’ It doesn’t matter. We all know the parameters when we start and so be it. It keeps everyone’s season going down to eleventh and twelfth.”

Picture supplied by Dave Budden.