BY MARK DOIG
Gavin McCallum rescued a point for Welling United at Hemel Hempstead Town with a late equaliser.
Although there was a degree of good fortune about the goal, it was the least that Welling deserved. They were on top before Hemel were reduced to 10 men on 40 minutes but they struggled to break down a resolute defence and it looked as though they were going to return home empty handed for the third consecutive game.
Then, in the 86th minute, McCallum crossed low and it evaded everyone and went in off the far post.
Welling manager Steve King introduced new signing Luke Rooney to freshen up the midfield and he appeared to strike up an immediate understanding with John Paul Kissock.
King also changed his formation by bringing in Anthony Acheampong in a back three with the returning Jordan Gibbons at wing-back. McCallum filled the other wing-back position.
However, the plan was scuppered in just the ninth minute when Gibbons went down heavily and had to be replaced. With no obvious replacement on the bench, Thierry Audel filled in at right-back in an orthodox back four, with Nassim L’Ghoul coming on to play down the right wing.
Chances were few and far between in the first half. Bradley Goldberg had a shot saved easily then L’Ghoul fired well over before Dan Wilks made his only save of the game from a low swerving effort from Jordan Parkes.
Five first-half minutes remained when Audel shook off a wild challenge before sending L’Ghoul away. Last man Kyle Connolly came across and cleaned the flying winger out and referee Dean Skipper had little option other than to dismiss the Hemel full-back.
After the break, L’Ghoul was again well off target before two Rooney shots were deflected for corners. Goldberg screwed a shot wide before L’Ghoul showed outrageous skill to back-heel a ball that appeared to be going out back over his own head and into the path of Audel. The emergency full-back strode forward and shot well towards the far post but Laurie Walker got down well to make a good save.
Goldberg was thwarted by a tight offside decision before Hemel went ahead against the run of play. A swift break down the right wing gave Parkes the chance to clip a through ball beyond the Welling defence and Scott Shulton slotted home.
Welling huffed and puffed but struggled to break down Hemel’s two banks of four men. L’Ghoul had a 20-yard effort saved before McCallum levelled. While it may have had a touch of fortune, aiming a cross at the far post often only requires a touch and if everyone misses it, there is a chance that it will go straight in.
In the remaining minutes Walker made a great save from Goldberg then Danny Mills shot just wide after bringing an angled cross down well.
Hemel Hempstead Town: Walker, Howe, Connolly, Parkes, Ward, Yakubu, Osborn (Swain 42), Shulton, Cawley, Tomlinson (Watt 57), Snelus (Sinclair 57). Subs not used: Mendy, Paulin.
Welling United: Wilks, Gibbons (L’Ghoul 12), McCallum, Hill, Acheampong, Audel, Kissock, Mendy (Anau 74), Paterson (Mills 71), Goldberg, Rooney. Subs not used: Kiernan, Newton.
PICTURES BY DAVE BUDDEN
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