An afternoon that stretched the emotions ended with Welling United guaranteeing safety from relegation from the National League South.

Coming into the game Welling were two points above bottom of the league Billericay Town with a far inferior goal difference. The Wings were entertaining Maidstone United who had clinched the championship two days earlier while the Essex club hosted Ebbsfleet United, who were in a tussle for third place.

Any hopes that Welling may have had of Maidstone taking it easy were quickly dispelled as they were soon on the attack. Former Wing Sam Corne had a header saved, Tushaun Walters nodded wide and he then had a cross-shot hooked off the line by Ben Margetson.

Dipo Akinyemi had Welling’s first chance when played in by Harvey Bradbury, but Yusuf Mersin made an excellent save in turning it over. Although the Stones continued to have the better of the territorial advantage, it was not all one way and Welling stung them by going ahead just past the midway point of the first half. Ben Allen’s clever flick opened up the Maidstone defence and sent Akinyemi away. His delicate chip beat Mersin and might have been going in but Bradbury took no chance and headed home.

Moments later, news came through that Billericay had gone ahead so it was back to where they were and both matches remained one-nil to the underdogs at the break.

An injury to Akinyemi ended his afternoon, and potentially his season, early in the second half and when Hady Ghandour levelled from Gavin Hoyte’s cross three minutes shy of the hour, the Wings were in a position that if both results stayed the same, they would be bottom.

That all changed nine minutes later when Welling went back ahead. Substitute Alfie Matthews sent Bradley Stevenson clear and although Mersin saved his first effort it came back off Stevenson’s chest for him to force it home. An update from Billericay came through with news that Ebbsfleet had levelled, and the relegation situation had been turned on its head.

Chances came and went at either end, but the Stones were asking more questions and Matheson made a brilliant last ditch clearance from Ghandour before Maxwell Statham blocked a drive from Regan Booty bravely with his face.

In injury time, the Stones almost levelled when Coniah Boyce-Clarke struggled to hold a Roarie Deacon shot but claimed it just before it crossed the line. He launched it forward and Matthews sent Bradbury away. He drew out Mersin and slotted it home.

Although Joe Ellul headed home for Maidstone in the final minute of stoppage time it was too little, too late. The Wings supporters then awaited news from Essex and knew that they were safe when hearing that Ebbsfleet had scored a late winner meaning that they were five points clear of Billericay with one to play.

They travel to Concord Rangers next Saturday with no pressure and able to enjoy their game.

Welling United: Boyce-Clarke, Statham, Ezennolim, Margetson, Sendles-White, Wells, Allen (Barnes 79), Stevenson (Derry 79), Bradbury, Akinyemi (Matthews 52), Shokunbi. Subs not used: Burnett, Pearce.