Clarets boss Rod Stringer laments “cruel” play-off semi-final defeat

Chelmsford City boss Rod Stringer struggled to find words to describe the manner in which his side lost.

The Clarets came from two-goals behind thanks to goals from Tom Wraight and substitute Jonny Giles; however, the visitors conceded a stoppage time penalty to undo Rod Stringer’s side’s hard work.

Bradley Goldberg opened the scoring after poor defending from City. Thierry Audel doubled the Wings’ lead with a tidy finish from the edge-of-the-box.

Wraight got the final touch in the dying moments of the first half to give City a glimmer of hope before Giles fired home an equaliser from 30 yards.

But with just seconds left on the clock, City boss Rod Stringer questioned referee Scott Jackson’s decision to award a spot-kick.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “We had the game in the ascendancy, I thought we had a lot more fluency and pace. We looked better on the ball than them. I thought they [Welling] had gone under.

“All of a sudden we’ve been caught in a situation where we’ve not dealt with a ball forward. I said [to the referees] ‘if you haven’t got that right, you’ve killed my football club’ because to me that was such a soft penalty. But we allowed it to happen.

“What a way to go, with ten seconds to go. He [the referee] has made a decision which is probably the biggest in his career because of the timing. With ten seconds to go, it’s beyond me.”

At 2-0 down City supporters thought of the worst; a twelfth consecutive season in the National League South.

However, the Clarets showed great determination to come from behind.

Moments after Wraight’s goal in the first half Murphy came close, testing Dan Wilks from close-range before Spillane glanced a header wide after the interval.

Wraight’s powerful strike was held well by the Wings ‘keeper and Giles’ flicked header was unable to be converted, but City continued to look the most likely to score.

Giles’ thunderous effort with seven minutes left caused huge scenes of jubilation from the travelling City supporters behind the goal.

But adulation turned to heartbreak as, with just seconds remaining, Kiernan stroked home the winning goal from twelve yards.

The supporters

As the full-time whistle blew, the City supporters froze in a few seconds of silence before applause broke out. The players had done all they could, and that was all the travelling supporters could ask for.

“The supporters were excellent. They started off really well and then they have had to see the Achilles heel as we conceded a couple of goals.

“We tried to get back in the game and we scored the goal and then they were back at it.

“We as a Management Team have tinkered with the shape and personnel, everything we’ve done today has been right.

“But I can’t legislate for two scrappy goals. For me and Nick [Haycock] we’ve changed things around and from a Management Team’s point of view, the team were tremendous.

“It wasn’t meant to be, things happen for a reason. I’ve got to sit down and think about where I want to go and what I want to do because, at the moment, I’m really flat.”