Welling United Women’s boss Keith Boanas reflected on a positive first campaign in charge as the Wings finished their season on a high on Sunday, beating league-leaders Ashford United Ladies in front of a record-breaking crowd at Park View Road.

Grace Laverick and Ellie Cole were on the scoresheet as Welling moved to the top of the table with a 2-1 victory in front of the 609 supporters in attendance – a record for a step six fixture in women’s football. 

And although Ashford are likely to regain top spot with their three games in hand, Boanas was “immensely proud’ of his players for their progression this term.

“They finished below mid-table last year, they lost games to much weaker teams,” he explained.

“It’s not just about winning games, it’s the style of play and the way you win games, and this year they’ve won them with spirit, they’ve won it with players that have given everything. 

“The real key has been the players that haven’t had the real playing time, they’ve stuck with us and done a job when they’ve been asked to – that’s just a spirit that you can’t buy with players. 

“They’re a fantastic group and I’m immensely, immensely proud of them.”

The Wings women could well have been celebrating a title win, but for a slow start to the season. But with 17 wins, two draws and just three defeats to their name from 22 games in 2022/23, Boanas emphasised that the fight and spirit shown since will stand them in good stead for a potential title charge next season.  

“Before the game, we spoke about spirit and fight and finishing the season proving that we know we’re better than any other team in this league right now – that’s what we believed,” he said. 

“Unfortunately, the two games at the start of the season have cost us, but we proved today that we should, potentially, have been champions. 

“We’re not and that’s something we have to take on the chin. Hopefully, the league might look at a restructure which could still involve us going up, but if not, this team has to look forward and make sure they finish as champions next year.”

Meanwhile, Boanas was quick to praise the supporters for backing the team and, with the rise of the women’s game continuing to swell, he hopes that the fans will keep believing in the project and backing the club’s initiatives to help it evolve even further. 

“To get this amount of supporters at a step six game in unbelievable,” said the former Women’s FA Cup-winning boss. 

“The fact that the club and the people around it have supported and promoted it – that’s what’s done this today. It’s a team effort on and off the pitch. You can’t ask for more than that and you hope that people will be back again next year because the more they come, that generates income which allows us to provide better things and do better things so it’s important for us to survive and push on. 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart to them and I hope to see them again.”