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Welling United 2-1 Concord Rangers
HAVING been reduced to ten men midway through the first half Welling United were forced into a battle of attrition before overcoming a tough tackling Concord Rangers.
Although starting brightly, the visitors had not really threatened until player manager Jamie Day was dismissed for a reckless challenge.
In fact, Welling had enjoyed the better openings in the early exchanges. After Danny Glozier had been cautioned for hacking down Theo Fairweather-Johnson, Ross Lafayette’s shot was parried out by Michael Jordan to Harry Baker and the winger’s follow up shot from a narrow angle was also bundled out unconvincingly.
Fraser Franks then crossed to Lafayette who headed back to Jake Gallagher but his overhead shot went just wide of the post with Jordan scrambling.
All changed after 23 minutes however. Day flew into a poor challenge and referee Nigel Lugg had little choice but to show him the red card although the antics of the Concord management team, baying for blood, left a poor taste in the mouth.
Former Wing, Steve King, was cautioned for going through Lafayette and from Jack Obersteller’s free kick, the Concord centre half sliced the ball into his own net.
Jamie Turner, Welling’s keeper, made an excellent save to thwart the impressive Jerome Walker but another free kick almost presented the Wings with a second goal.
Baker’s free kick found Ben Martin whose header was fumbled out and half cleared to Gallagher but he was unable to keep his shot down.
Joe Healy was cautioned for a foul which was almost identical to one committed by James White that was only punished with a free kick and stern lecture moments earlier.
Turner had to be alert again as a dangerous Concord free kick took two deflections but after Gallagher’s shot was deflected over, King made a brave block to stop Martin’s header as he threw himself at Baker’s corner.
Fairweather-Johnson created the first opening of the second half when he ran at the Concord defence before unleashing a powerful shot wide of the far post.
Tony Stokes hit a rasping effort for Concord that fizzed over Turner’s crossbar before Welling almost unlocked the Rangers’ defence with a fine move.
An intelligent ball by Baker was laid off perfectly by Lafayette into the path of Obersteller. The Welling full back took one touch to draw out Jordan before stabbing his attempted dink just wide of the far post.
Martin became the next Welling man to be cautioned as Concord enjoyed a lot of the ball with Welling defending deep, and although the hosts escaped a couple of times when poor crosses were over-hit, the equaliser looked imminent and Stokes duly levelled the scores bundling the ball home from close range in the 69th minute.
White hit an effort well wide, before Loui Fazakerley, who was outstanding throughout, was finally able to get forward and he did not waste his opportunity.
His cross demonstrated the little bit of quality that the Concord wide men had lacked and found substitute Lee Clarke bursting into the penalty area.
Nicky Cowley, who had earlier escaped censure when he appeared to have trodden on Lafayette’s hand, upended the Welling midfielder at the cost of a spot kick and yellow card.
Jordan got a firm hand to Healy’s 75th minute penalty kick but the power and accuracy were too much for him, and the ball found its way into the bottom corner.
Stokes saw his weak effort saved by Turner as Welling, who had replaced Healy with Scott Kinch, were again forced to defend deep.
Harry Elmes thought he had won a penalty when brought down by Turner, but the Welling custodian was saved from dismissal by an offside flag.
Cowley headed over from close range from a 90th minute corner but Welling still had to dig deep for a further seven minutes in which both Turner and substitute Kiernan Hughes-Mason were cautioned for dissent before the final whistle sounded.
Welling United: Turner, Fazakerley, Obersteller, Day, Martin, Franks, Baker (Clarke 61), Gallagher, Fairweather-Johnson (Hughes-Mason 69), Lafayette, Healy (Kinch 79). Unused substitutes: Mott, Williams, Main, Hudson.