BY MARK DOIG
Back-to-back defeats on awful pitches have pushed Welling off top spot in National League South and back into the chasing pack.
At Torquay one week earlier, the pitch was barely playable – but the game at Hampton was a whole different level. The surface wasn’t great from the start but as heavy rain fell throughout the game, conditions became increasingly testing.
Although some might question whether the games should have finished, the circumstances were the same for both teams and Welling’s opponents adapted better.
Wings boss Steve King has put together a squad of players who are all very comfortable on the ball and happier playing a passing game. But at Hampton it was only when Danny Mills was introduced from the bench that they upped the tempo and caused the hosts difficulties.
It might have all been different had referee Jack Packman awarded Welling the penalty that he should have for a clearcut handball in the penalty area in the early stages. When that had been denied, Welling’s second stage attack ended when Josh Hill’s shot was deflected over Tom Lovelock and against the bar.
Welling didn’t threaten in the first half after that but were rarely troubled at the other end. It looked likely that the teams would go in level at the break but that changed when the impressive Liam Sole created the opening goal in injury time. His low cross on the slick surface was not claimed by Dan Wilks and Chris Dickson couldn’t miss from two yards out. That was the only shot on target from either side in the half.
The Welling players were sent back into the icy weather early for the second period.
A long free-kick was flicked on by Matt Paterson and was met by Thierry Audel but his header lacked power.
Former Charlton Athletic and Dulwich Hamlet striker Dickson had another chance for Hampton but his fierce shot was beaten out by Wilks.
He did double Hampton’s lead in the 52nd minute. Jack Connors delivered a corner that found its way to Dickson at the far post and he converted with a backheel from close range.
Another Dickson effort was saved by Wilks before substitute Daniel Uchechi showed some trickery to create a shooting chance but arrowed his shot just over from 20 yards.
Mills was then introduced and proved to be a real handful for the Beavers’ defence. After Audel had a shot saved by Lovelock, Mills was set-up by Danny McNamara but his shot was saved at point-blank range.
There was nothing the home goalkeeper could do about Welling’s next chance. Hill toe-poked it through to Mills and he diverted it into the bottom corner.
Soon after Mills might have claimed an unlikely equaliser but his effort was scrambled just past the post by a desperate Hampton defender.
Welling – five points behind leaders Torquay and having played a game more – travel to Hemel Hempstead Town on Saturday.
IMAGES BY DAVE BUDDEN
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