AFTER successive defeats, Welling returned to winning ways with a ground out victory over Havant & Waterlooville.
Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Jon Main and Ben Martin started for Welling in place of Lee Clarke, Fraser Franks and Scott Kinch as Welling manager Jamie Day looked to freshen up the team following their loss at Sutton United on the previous Tuesday. De’Breece Vanderhyde made his home debut.
Havant attempted to break the game up and frustrate Welling from the start but the hosts still looked good early on before losing their way a little midway through the first period.
Ross Lafayette created the first opportunity by waiting for Dan Strugnell to commit himself before shooting wide with his first time effort.
Jake Gallagher clipped an excellent pass to put Kiernan Hughes-Mason in behind the defence but former Welling goalkeeper Craig Masters read the situation well and rushed out to clear.
Joe Healy found Lafayette who turned but shot wide then Hughes-Mason played in Main but the ball bobbled up and hit his hand before his shot was blocked by Masters. Welling continued to press and Ben Martin headed on a free kick just beyond Lafayette.
Martin was cautioned for kicking the ball away after conceding a free kick even though Ed Harris had done the same thing earlier without further punishment.
Jack Obersteller slung another dangerous free kick into the penalty area but Masters was able to punch away off the head of Anthony Acheampong at the cost of a corner.
Eddie Hutchinson twice got away with raising his hands to Lafayette despite the offences happening right in front of an assistant referee.
Healy had a goal-bound shot blocked away for another corner before Hughes-Mason was cautioned. Harris was booked when he kicked the ball away once again. Vanderhyde broke down the right wing but shot over before referee Stuart Butler booked Day for an innocuous foul just before the half time break.
Main and Lafayette combined well early in the second period but Day’s low shot was claimed by Masters at the second attempt.
Ollie Palmer collected Jesse Kewley-Graham’s clever pass but shot well wide and Emmanuel Ighorae, having just replaced Chris Arthur, was kept out by brilliant Obersteller defending.
Hughes-Mason broke well and his perfect pass gave Main a great opportunity but his first touch allowed a defender to get across and bundle the ball away for a corner. The missed chance was not to prove costly however, as Day’s deep cross was met by a towering Martin header back into the far corner. Theo Fairweather-Johnson replaced Main immediately and the Hawks brought on Sahr Kabba for Steve Ramsey.
Acheampong was cautioned for a foul on Palmer and a flare up saw Gallagher and Hutchinson join him in the referee’s notebook.
Christian Nanetti forced the first save of the match from Mott, although his free kick did not have sufficient power to worry the Welling custodian too much.
Masters was happy to save a loose ball following chaos caused by Acheampong and Martin from Day’s free kick and Acheampong headed an Obersteller corner just beyond the angle of bar and post.
Mott then made an outstanding save from Palmer and from the rebound Day made a brave block to thwart Ighorae.
On the break, Hughes-Mason cut in and shot low to force a save from Masters before he collected a high pass skilfully, turned Alex Grant with one touch, and attempted a first time flick that did not quite have the power to beat Masters.
The nippy Wings’ wide man should have been awarded a penalty in the final minute when brought down by Jake Newton but the referee’s misjudgement was not to prove decisive as Havant failed to create a further opening.
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Welling United: Mott, Vanderhyde, Obersteller, Day, Martin, Acheampong, Hughes-Mason, Gallagher, Main (Fairweather-Johnson 60), Lafayette, Healy. Unused substitutes: Kinch, Turner, Clarke, Franks.