BY MARK DOIG
Hopes of a ‘new manager bounce’ proved unfounded as events conspired against Welling United at Oxford City.
Following their FA Cup defeat two weeks earlier, Welling had no scheduled fixture and it seemed strange for them to bring forward their visit to Oxford, due in March 2022, rather than give new manager Peter Taylor more time to work with the team.
Peter Taylor watched that match and it was believed that he would want to watch another match before deciding on whether to accept the challenge. However, he agreed to take on the role regardless and after two training sessions he selected his first starting 11.
Brad Pearce returned following injury and Daniel Carr was offered his debut. Former Millwall youngster Chi Ezennolim was also restored to the starting 11.
One of the things on which Taylor will need to work on is how to stop Welling from conceding early. In four of their six previous games, they went behind in the opening exchanges, and once again they suffered it when Joe Iaciofano fired them ahead from Elliot Benyon’s knockdown with less than four minutes on the board.
After that setback, Welling enjoyed more of the possession and territorial advantage but Oxford reduced them to long shots with Che Krabbendam having two saved and another flew over.
However, Oxford also had their moments during this part of the game and Benyon hit the bar with a header downwards that took an exaggerated bounce off the artificial playing surface.
Carr had a shot blocked wide for a corner then Kristian Campbell shot over from a free-kick before Tom Smith made a good save from Iaciofano before the break.
Oxford made as lively a start to the second period as they did the first and Smith made a brilliant save to keep out Reece Fleet’s effort that looked to be curling in at the far post. Fortune then went against Welling when Smith went down and landed awkwardly, dislocating his shoulder, when attempting to claim the corner. While he was down, Nana Owusu shot for goal but Campbell was on hand to head over.
Prolonged treatment followed, but it was to make Smith comfortable rather than in the hope that he might continue and he was eventually helped off. With no goalkeeper on the bench, Campbell took on the duties with Dylan Pepe coming on as substitute. When play resumed, Josh Ashby tested Campbell with an inswinging corner but he claimed it with a good overhead catch.
Campbell made a good save from Ashby in open play before Benyon and Harry Kyprianou both headed wide.
Twenty minutes remained on the clock when Oxford scored the crucial second goal. This time, Campbell could not deal with Ashby’s corner and Benyon bundled home from close range.
To their credit, Welling didn’t throw in the towel and Ade Shokunbi’s powerful drive drew a brilliant save out of Ben Dudenski.
However, Oxford continued to press forward and substitute Harvey Bradbury headed home from George Harmon’s cross with five minutes remaining to complete the scoring.
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