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Welling United 1-1 Basingstoke Town
ONCE again, Welling United showed the merit of playing until the very end as Jake Gallagher struck an unlikely equaliser in the 94th and final minute.
In their previous game, Gallagher scored a stoppage time winner at home to Maidenhead and his goal against Basingstoke on Saturday enabled Welling to maintain their place on top of the table and their unbeaten home record.
Basingstoke had been the first team to win at second placed Salisbury on Tuesday and might have done likewise at Park View Road had their time wasting antics not caused the referee to add four additional minutes.
Constant rain on the previous day made the pitch very heavy and not ideal for either team who like to play a passing game. As a result, clear cut chances were at a premium.
Jamie Day’s Welling started well and the player-manager’s long free kick was chested down by Ross Lafayette requiring a desperate clearance by David Ray to thwart Anthony Acheampong.
Kurtis Guthrie then played in Lee Clarke. His first effort was blocked by Rob Rice but came back to him and from a tight angle his powerful shot was saved by a flying Ashley Bayes.
Lafayette curled in a cross that deceived everyone and drifted just wide of the far post before striking an effort that was deflected past the post by Nathan Smart.
Wes Daly caused Welling’s first problems of the afternoon when his free kick was headed back by Ray for Rice to head over when well placed.
They came close again when Delano Sam-Yorke twisted and turned through the Welling defence before seeing his well struck shot bounce out off the legs of Sam Mott.
Corners looked the most likely threat to the visitors and Acheampong shot wide from one then Ben Martin saw an effort deflected over after Guthrie’s effort was blocked from another Day delivery.
Acheampong headed over from a free kick by Day following a foul on Guthrie before Gallagher was booked for a clumsy foul on Daly.
The dead-lock was broken just before half time when a corner was only half cleared and Manny Williams lofted it back inside the upright despite the presence of a defender on the post.
This was the third game in a row in which Welling had conceded very close to the half time break and whilst they came out playing a higher tempo against Maidenhead the week before, they struggled to make inroads against a resolute Basingstoke team.
Things could have got worse for the Wings had Williams been able to find a team mate early in the second half but Fraser Franks was on hand to clear.
Guthrie became the second Welling player to be cautioned when he flattened Smart before Welling managed to create a half chance. Clarke found Kiernan Hughes-Mason but when his pass looked to play in Lafayette the Dragons’ defence was again quick to close down and the Wings’ striker saw his shot deflected away.
Fifteen minutes remained when Giannoulis Fakinos made his Welling debut in place of Clarke.
Fakinos almost made an early impact when his cross caused problems for Bayes who punched out weakly to Franks. Although the Welling defender did not make the contact for which he had hoped the ball fell to Hughes-Mason who’s first time shot fizzed over.
Mott kept Welling in the game with a fine save from Nathan Campbell before Jon Main replaced Guthrie with seven minutes remaining.
Franks found space on the right hand side and was picked out by Acheampong following a marauding run by the Welling centre half. The Wings’ right back advanced before his dangerous low cross just eluded Main and Lafayette.
Despite keeping the Wings at bay for first three of the four additional minutes, Basingstoke paid for their earlier delay of game when Fakinos’ ball forward was knocked down by Lafayette to Gallagher and he struck his effort from twenty yards sweetly into the bottom corner.
Welling United: Mott, Franks, Obersteller, Day, Martin, Acheampong, Gallagher, Clarke (Fakinos 75), Guthrie (Main 83), Lafayette, Hughes-Mason. Unused substitutes: Kinch, Turner, Fairweather-Johnson.