Comeback Kick Starters Ready For Their Big Final

Still short of breath, still sweating despite allegedly having just enjoyed a victory soak in the shower. Josh Casey emerged looking like he is struggling to remember what day it was.

By the sounds of the pandemonium coming out of the Woking dressing room just after 5pm last Sunday, there wasn’t much washing being done. A few light refreshments perhaps not helping with the disorientation.

Captain Casey has the distinct scent only football can really produce when he set aside a few minutes after things had calmed down.

The type of aroma wafting through Anfield and Amsterdam over the past few days. The sweet smell of odds defying, eau de comeback. Fragrant and fantastic, if you could bottle it you’d make a small fortune.

It was half-an-hour after perhaps the highlight of his career so far.

Two goals down with 14 minutes left on the clock, Wealdstone appeared to have done a job on Alan Dowson’s side. They looked beaten. To most, they probably were.

Then something very special happened. Save for their FA Cup exploits, a 14 minute period Woking fans have been starved of for so long.

Casey wasn’t here to see relegation unfold twelve months before. He was actually trying to swap places with them.

A year ago he was in the Hampton team whose hearts were broken by Braintree in the National League South Promotion Final on penalty kicks. Had Lady Luck looked the other way, perhaps he and his manager wouldn’t be leading Sunday’s pre-match team-talks.

The thing is about Casey is that he cares. Woking fans will certainly back that up. His summer was a write off from the moment a whole season was undone by one kick in south west London.

Even a move to Woking alongside manager Dowson couldn’t totally take his mind off it.

There won’t be many players at the National League South promotion shoot-out against Welling United that victory would mean more to.

“You just replay it over and over again in your mind,” he said.

“You go to sleep thinking about it, you re-live moments of the game in your head thinking ‘what if this happened, what if I had done this’.

“I said to the (Woking) players at half-time, you don’t want the what ifs or the regrets.

“It’s a long summer when that happens. It eats away at you and eats away at you. We’re telling the squad now because there are a lot of players here who haven’t been involved in play-off finals before.

“To get this club up and experiencing promotion would be the best feeling ever. But it’s the fear of not doing it that drives you on even more.”

Now for Welling, and after kick-starting a week of comebacks can the Cards cross the finishing line and secure promotion back into the National League at the first time of asking?

“Momentum is the biggest thing in football there is, it’s now as case of bottling that and taking it into Sunday’s final,” he said. “It showed the character we have.

“It will be a different game to last year’s final. First of all it’s second v third which I think is great.

“Braintree ended seventh and approached the Hampton game as a free hit, and they said before that they’ve done well whatever happened.

“That’s dangerous. Welling have more of an expectation that they should be in the league above and they have the players - so there’s a lot on it. Both teams will be expected to go up, so it will make for an interesting final.”

PICTURES BY DAVID HOLMES

Where next?

Super Salford Shine As They Blow Fylde Away At Wembley Salford City secured their place in the Football League with a ruthless display at Wembley in the Vanarama National League Promotion Final.
King Can’t Call National League South Shoot-Out Welling United manager Steve King says Sunday’s National League South Promotion Final shoot-out with Woking is too tight to call.

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