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Sutton 1-2 Welling
GOALS from Lee Clarke and Joe Healy helped Welling United to victory at Sutton United in their first ever play-off match.
Manager Jamie Day and his squad will be well aware of the danger in believing that the job is done and can expect a tough return match on Sunday.
Two well matched teams started in a cagey manner and the game was 15 minutes old before either team had an attempt at goal when Loick Pires headed a Ben Martin flick straight to Kevin Scriven in the Sutton goal.
Healy hit a first time effort over the bar then Loick Pires produced a good save from Scriven as the visitors increased the tempo.
Stefan Payne’s shot well over was all Sutton could muster and it came as no surprise when Welling opened the scoring in the 27th minute.
Sutton were stretched as Welling passed the ball around the pitch and eventually the ball came out to Dean Cracknell in space on the right.
He looked up before delivering an inviting cross that was met by a flying Clarke header that gave Scriven no chance.
The hosts enjoyed a little more of the ball after that but Welling’s defence kept them from creating any real openings and their best effort was a free kick from Paul Telfer which flew well over the bar.
It could have been worse for Sutton when Healy’s deep cross found Luis Cumbers at the far post just before half time but his header was blocked away to safety without troubling Scriven.
Craig Holloway’s first save came early in the second half but it was from a tame effort and Welling looked more threatening moments later when Healy knocked Loui Fazakerley’s cross back for Clarke to fire a rising shot narrowly over.
Leroy Griffiths snatched a shot wide before Craig Dundas was shown the only yellow card of the evening for a cynical foul.
Holloway then made an outstanding save before an unfortunate own goal levelled the scores.
A deep cross was deflected by Jack Parkinson and Craig Watkins, and Holloway could only palm the ball into the back of his own net.
Seven minutes later, Welling restored their lead. Breaking from the back, an awful foul on Cumbers was allowed to go as Pires broke away.
The Welling striker was too fast and powerful for the defenders left in his wake and he burst into the penalty area before his unselfish cross was met with a deft flick by Healy beyond the diving Scriven.
Sadly for Cumbers, he was unable to participate further and was replaced by Harry Baker. Welling’s medical staff now face a race against time to get him fit for Sunday’s return match.
Fazakerley was also unable to finish the match when cramp got the better of him, but excellent defending ensured Sutton were unable to fashion a further opportunity and Welling held on to their first leg advantage.
On Sunday the two teams meet again with the overall victors meeting Basingstoke Town or Dartford one week later to decide who joins Woking in promotion to the Conference.
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Welling United: Holloway, Fazakerley (Sambrook 84), Obersteller, Day, Martin, Parkinson, Cracknell, Clarke, Cumbers (Baker 73), Healy, Pires. Unused substitutes: Kinch, Acheampong, Turner.