'I want the play-offs' roars Lee as WGC give MK Dons a tough battle

PUBLISHED: 16:24 22 July 2019

New Welwyn Garden City manager Nick Ironton (left) has re-signed Lee Close for the 2019-2020 season. Picture: WGC FC

New Welwyn Garden City manager Nick Ironton (left) has re-signed Lee Close for the 2019-2020 season. Picture: WGC FC

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Lee Close has said he wants one thing this season and one thing only after returning to the Welwyn Garden City ranks - to reach the play-offs.

The midfielder turned centre-half began last year at Herns Lane before leaving in January.

However, he is back and wants the Citizens to start rising up the Southern League Division One Central table after flirting with relegation during the previous campaign.

He said: "One of the first things I said when I signed was that I didn't want to play for a mid-table team. I want to push on.

"You have to be realistic obviously but I like to do things intensely. Play the first 10 games and see where we're at, then the next 10 games.

"I want play-offs at the minimum."

He admitted there two reasons for donning the claret jersey once more, his love for the club and Nick Ironton, the new WGC manager.

"Nicky is so old school. He's no-nonsense in the changing rooms and that's what I love," said an enthusiastic Close.

"I play better when I'm shouted at, that's just how I am. I'm pretty old school as well.

"We've got a mix of older and younger boys so I do love it here.

"And the fans are really supportive too."

Close put in a starring role in the heart of the Welwyn defence in a narrow 1-0 defeat on Friday night to League One MK Dons.

The professional side brought plenty of their bug guns to Herns Lane but Close was able to marshal them with relative ease alongside first Will McClelland and then Dylan Ebengo.

And he told WHTSport that it was definitely a night to remember.

"Nights like that against the big boys are quite special as they don't really happen for teams like us," he said.

"It's what you dream of and I loved every second of it.

"We knew they were going to have the ball for the majority of the time so the gaffer had a gameplan to be compact and build from that.

"But in the first half we were the better team to be honest.

"We had a couple of chances to score, I had one with a header that went wide which I'm disappointed about, but I enjoyed it."

Ironton himself was equally thrilled with the performance of his new side.

He said: "I'm absolutely delighted, it was a first-class performance. We made a lot of changes in the last half hour and only lost 1-0 to a full professional side.

"It's coming together slowly but there is still a long way to go.

"I don't look too deeply into pre-season games much as you don't get any points for it. August 17 and the start of the Southern League is what its all about.

"In my mind I think we're a little bit ahead of schedule but I'm not getting too excited.

"We're not a million miles away and a lot of questions have been answered."

Friday night's match also allowed Ironton to run the rule over one or two extra players and he saw enough to make three new signings.

One is a familiar face. Eusebio Da Silva bagged five goals for the Citizens in the second part of the season.

Ex-Hitchin Town midfielder Charlie Payne and Jean-Paul Antwi, who counts Wealdstone as a former club, are the others.

Ironton said: "We've been struggling for forwards in the last couple of weeks. I've spoken to an awful lot but I had three forwards that came in and they are all good players.

"They all held the ball up well and the transition from midfield to attack was a lot better.

"We had a platform and that's what we've been missing."

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