BY MARK DOIG
It was a disappointing Tuesday evening for Welling United as they lost to a late goal at Maidstone United.
The same two clubs had contested the final National League South game played at the Gallagher Stadium before the curtailment of last season. Both teams were much changed with Welling fielding no fewer than nine players making their full league debuts for the club and two other newcomers coming off the bench.
Just six minutes were on the clock when one of the players making his bow scored his first goal for the club. Lionel Ainsworth strode forward and unleashed a shot that Chris Lewington could only parry out as far as Stefan Ilic, and he did not spurn the opportunity to knock it home.
After that Maidstone enjoyed more of the possession but rarely threatened the Welling goal while the Wings looked like they could be dangerous on the break.
Scott Rendell headed over for the hosts then Ainsworth again tested Maidstone’s custodian with a shot that he was able to hold.
Reise Charles-Cook, the Wings’ debutant goalkeeper, made a brilliant save from Sam Corne before Khaleem Simons headed beyond the post for Welling. Charles-Cook then caused the Stones problems with a monster kick out and Rowan Liburd held off George Elokobi but was off balance as he hooked over.
Charlie Seaman, on a season-long loan from Doncaster Rovers, was a threat all evening for the Stones and he drew a good save from Charles-Cook with a well struck free kick.
Another Charles-Cook save, this time from close range, thwarted new signing George Porter before Joe Ellul headed wide for the Stones just before the break.
The hosts continued to search for the leveller and found it two minutes after the hour mark when a poor header back to the goalkeeper allowed Rendell to get in and poke home.
Simons got in behind the Maidstone defence and was caught in a tangle with Ellul in the penalty area but referee Jason Richardson was disinterested in any calls for a penalty and the hosts missed a good opportunity at the other when former Wings Corne and Porter got in each other’s way, and the former stabbed wide.
As the clock ran down, it appeared that the Wings were going to claim a hard-earned point but they were thwarted with five minutes remaining when Seaman shrugged off two challenges and cut across the box before firing low into the bottom corner.
Welling were unable to mount a response and now have a bye week, giving manager Brad Quinton a good 10 days to work with the players ahead of their next game away to Slough Town.
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