King proud despite Welling loss
King proud despite Welling loss

Losing a play-off decider wasn’t a new experience for Welling United supporters or for their manager Steve King but it wasn’t any less hurtful for either.

It was King’s third such taste of promotion final heartache and Welling’s only other foray in the play-offs ended in a similar tight defeat.

After the game King admitted that although he always strives to be in post season matches, the games aren’t his favourite. “I don’t enjoy play-offs.”he said. “It’s the third final I’ve lost in the south. The game was cagey in the first half to say the least. I don’t think we did a lot but they didn’t do a lot.

Brad (Goldberg)’s had that great chance where it’s beat the keeper and it’s going in but it’s spun out and hit the post and gone into the goalkeeper’s hands. They had a one on one when they cut inside Jordan (Gibbons). They got a shot off but there was nothing in the game in the first half. (Then) they get a free kick and he’s put it away with aplomb.

The quality of whip on the ball was amazing. You look at the size of our wall and it was six foot three, six foot four, six foot five. It’s a massive wall to get up and down with dip so you have to acknowledge the quality of the execution.”

After the interval, Welling really pushed for an equaliser. “We were all over them in the second half.” he said. “The last twenty minutes we were camped in their half and they just tried to hit us on the counter attack. If you look at their system, the way they set up today, it was almost like a four-five-one. At home.

I know it was set in theory as a four-two-three-one but they had everyone behind the ball and tried to counter attack us at home. I think that shows the respect they had for us. I think we gave everything. They defended well. They headed everything. The keeper punched everything

We put five corners in there, crosses in there, free kicks in there. They defended brilliantly so all credit to them in defending the way they did.”

King made a double substitution bringing on Julien Anau and Nassim L’Ghoul and the latter was involved in the one moment of controversy in the game when Welling should have been awarded a penalty. “They’re fine line, play-offs normally.” said King. “They’re tight. They normally go to extra time and then penalties.

Most games do in these levels but I just look back and I’m just disappointed that the ref hasn’t got that right and we all know it’s a penalty. It wasn’t even a difficult decision. His first touch he slipped over but when he got up and shifted the ball, (Jack) Cook took him out. They (Woking management)’re on the bench going ‘Oh my God’ like that (mimics head in hands). I shook Ian (assistant manager Dyer)’s hand at the end and he said ‘stonewall penalty’.

He (the referee)’s ten yards from it. How’s he not seen it? I don’t get it.”

At the end of the game King wanted to go across and than the large contingent of Welling supporters but the pitch invasion made that impossible. “It’s a shame that I couldn’t get to them at the end to thank them because of the scenes here with everyone running on the pitch.” he said. “You probably can’t stop it but once that had all cleared they’d all gone.”

There is no doubt that for Welling it has been an exceptional season. King said “No-one expected us to finish third in the league. We thought we’d have a go and we’d be in and around it but we finished two points off second. That’s no mean feat,

It’s a very competitive division. You had Hungerford beating teams left, right and centre. You had Gloucester beating teams left, right and centre. Everybody was beating everybody. There’s no ‘give mes’ any more. I’ve been in this league for years and you knew you were going somewhere and you knew you’d be winning. It gets even stronger next year, It gets even tougher.”

Now King is starting preparations for next season. He said “We’ll meet with the whole squad during the week and I’ll have to make decisions on who we keep and who we don’t keep, who wants to stay, who’s been tapped up elsewhere because it goes on as we know.

It might be a rebuilding job, it might not. We might be able to keep the majority of them and go again. We don’t know.”

Pictures supplied by Dave Budden.