Losing a play-off decider is a hard way to finish what has been an outstanding season but that was the fate that befell Welling United.
Their only previous play-off campaign ended in the same way and manager Steve King came into this one having tasted defeat in play-off deciders.
However, the loss to Woking should not detract from what has been a fantastic season. King came in during the summer and built a squad from scratch and they have played some hugely entertaining football along the way to third place in the league. They also won a cup on the way and once the initial disappointment has gone, they should be very pleased with their achievements.
Coming within two points of full time Woking was an accomplishment in itself but it was that tight margin that gave Woking the all important home advantage. Welling had visited the Cards in the League and the FA Cup earlier in the season and come home empty handed and it was not to be third time lucky for the Wings.
Although Woking started brightly, Welling had the first goal attempt when Bradley Goldberg curled over. Then Danny Mills got up a head of steam to break through but his well struck effort rippled the side netting from the wrong side.
Dan Wilks was unable to reach a deep free kick and when it was nodded on but Jordan Gibbons swept up from behind to clear..
Brendan Kiernan showed why defending against him has been so hard throughout the season with brilliant skill down the right wing before he crossed. Thierry Audel chose to try and volley it rather than heading it and missed it completely. However, it fell to Gavin McCallum who drilled it just the wrong side of the near post.
Goldberg then came despairingly close to opening the scoring when he made space for himself but his low effort struck the inside of the post. It could have gone in off the upright or could have come out for a tap in for Kiernan but unfortunately for the Wings, it went back towards the direction from which it came and into the prone Craig Ross’ grateful hands.
Amari Little had a chance for Woking but Hill cleared off the line before Woking broke the dead-lock just before half-term. Audel went through Jake Hyde just outside the penalty area and a free kick was awarded from which Little made him pay with a fantastic curler over the defensive wall.
Neither side made changes at the interval and Audel hooked the first opportunity of the second half high over the bar.
Wilks then made a good save from Jake Hyde and Allassani brought another save out of him before King made a double substitution bringing on Nassim L’Ghoul and Julien Anau.
Almost immediately, L’Ghoul was involved in a potential outcome changing moment. He had slipped in the penalty area but was up again when challenged by Jack Cook. Maybe the referee felt that the entertaining Frenchman had not regained his balance when Cook sent him flying but it looked a tough call on the Wings.
Mills headed wide from Kiernan’s cross before Josh Hill let fly but Ben Gerring made a crucial block with his head at the cost of a corner.
Another Mills drive was beaten out by Ross before Anau shot over.
Whilst Welling pressed for an equaliser, Woking looked dangerous on the break and Allassani fired over before Hyde had a shot saved by Wilks. Wilks even went up for a corner in injury time but it came to nothing and it was Woking who were celebrating promotion soon after.
Woking: Ross, Cook, Casey, Ferdinand, Gerring, Diarra, Allassani (Durojaiye 85), Little, Hyde Bradbury 90+), Kretzschmar, Cadogan (Hodges 73). Subs not used: Collier, Mason.
Welling United: Wilks, Gibbons, Braham-Barrett, Mendy (Anau 64), Hill, Audel, Kiernan, Ijaha, Mills, Goldberg (Bettamer 71), McCallum (L’Ghoul 64). Subs not used: Hajizadeh, Orlu.
IMAGES BY DAVE BUDDEN
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