BY MARK DOIG
For the third consecutive week, Welling United claimed a winner in the final ten minutes to put them in a strong position for the play-offs.
At both Weston-super-Mare and Gloucester City, Steve King’s Wings scored with six regulation minutes remaining and another West Country club, Bath City, befell late agony. This time it was even later with just three minutes remaining.
That completed the double over their fellow play-off contenders who would have gone above Welling with a win but now find themselves six points adrift with four to play. Other results also went Welling’s way and they are now four points clear of fourth place in the knowledge that one more win would guarantee them post season football for only the second time in their history.
They could hardly have got off to a better start. Jack Batten’s crude challenge on Brendan Kiernan looked premeditated to unsettle the team’s player of the month. However, all it did was to allow Gavin McCallum the opportunity to deliver, and that he did. He picked out Anthony Acheampong who headed across goal for Thierry Audel to volley home his eighth goal of the season.
After that it was ‘nip and tuck’ as Bath enjoyed more of the football but Welling looked sharp on the break.
Arnaud Mendy headed wide from a McCallum corner before Joe Raynes drove powerfully but too straight and Dan Wilks held on well.
Kiernan was found by Mendy and he worked himself into a good position but shot then McCallum had s shot saved by Ryan Clarke after Bradley Goldberg’s initial effort was blocked. Wilks then had to get down smartly to save from the dangerous Freddie Hinds.
Danny Mills’ first touch from Kiernan’s ball was a touch heavy and it looked as if it was going to get away from him but his pace and determination allowed him to get a shot in and Clarke was called upon to turn it around the post.
In the second half Bath enjoyed a lot of possession in midfield but didn’t create much until they levelled just shy of the hour mark. Kevin Amankwaah found space on the right and crossed deep for Sean Rigg to come in late and head home from close range.
Looking to go back ahead Mills twisted but shot but shot over before Adam Mann shot just beyond the angle of bar and post.
Substitute Mo Bettamer was set up by a marvellous Kiernan back-heel volley but his fierce shot flew just wide.
Then came the defining moment. Andy Watkins hit a rasping drive towards the bottom corner and Wilks dived full length to hold.
Moments later Welling scored the winner with a fantastic goal. Julien Anau sent a wonderful through ball to Mills and his brilliant first touch gave him the opportunity to hold off his marker and slot beyond Clarke.
There was still time for one more moment of drama. The otherwise faultless Wilks dropped a cross and it fell into the path of Mann but his hurried shot came out off the underside of the bar.
Welling United: Wilks, Ming, Braham-Barrett, Mendy, Audel, Acheampong, Kiernan, Ijaha, Mills (Rooney 90+), Goldberg (Bettamer 67), McCallum (Anau 67). Subs not used: Orlu, Genovesi.
Photos by Dave Budden