BY MARK DOIG
On a day of unexpected Vanarama National South results, third placed Welling United suffered their worst defeat of the season at bottom but one East Thurrock United.
Going into the game, Welling still had a chance of claiming the runners-up spot which would give them home advantage throughout the play-offs. On the other side, they were not assured of finishing third and getting a bye in the first round.
For the Rocks, anything other than a win would confirm their relegation and on their fiftieth anniversary they were keen to give a good display to their former players in the crowd.
As it turned out, Woking won at Dulwich Hamlet to guarantee second place whilst Chelmsford City lost at home to Wealdstone meaning that Welling are assured to finish fourth. Sadly, despite the Rocks’ great result, it was to no avail as Hungerford Town stunned the champions, Torquay United, with a late winner at Plainmoor.
After a quiet first fifteen minutes, the hosts went ahead with the first clear cut opportunity. Although Welling managed to block two close range shots it fell to Sam Higgins and he buried the opportunity.
Jack Giddens made a good save from Bradley Goldberg then Zack Newton picked out Mohamed Bettamer but his header was saved without too much fuss.
Reece Dobson missed a great chance from a Higgins cross before Bettamer had another chance but Giddens saved easily. Higgins created another opening but Alex Osborn made a mess of his shot and the chance was gone.
Osborn then turned provider when pulling back from the bye-line and he found Higgins who finished well.
In first half injury time, Welling pulled one back. Newton had a shot blocked and it came out to Goldberg. He fired across the face of goal and Bettamer bundled home from close range.
However, Welling’s hopes of a recovery were dashed two minutes after the interval. Jon Nzengo read Dan Wilks’ attempted fifty yard pass to Newton and intercepted before advancing. He played a clever reverse pass with Steve Sheehan before firing low into the bottom corner.
Danny Harris’ reaction header from Harry Lee’s corner flew over before Welling’s Sanchez Ming was involved at both ends. First he crossed from the right but Goldberg’s near post header was well saved then at the other end he did well to beat Harris to Higgins; cross and clear.
Newton sent a fierce drive wide and Caden Genovesi volleyed Montel Agyemang’s corner over before the Rocks compounded Welling’s misery. Higgins was again involved but Wilks beat his close range drive out. Harris, following up, squared to the far post and Rickie Hayles smashed home from close range.
Welling entertain Hampton and Richmond Borough on Saturday looking to get back to winning ways ahead of the play-offs.
Welling United: Wilks, Ming, Genovesi, Mendy (Anau 58), Hill, Orlu, Agyemang, Rooney (Kiernan 58), Bettamer, Goldberg, Newton. Subs not used: Braham-Barrett, Mills, Audel.
PICTURES BY DAVE BUDDEN