Stefan Payne claimed a hat-trick to ensure that Welling United will be playing Vanarama National League South football again next season.

Defeat to already crowned league champions Ebbsfleet United would have meant that they would have been a little twitchy going into their last two games but the victory ensures that they now have no concerns.

It was their third meeting with the Fleet this season. They drew at the Kufflink Stadium earlier in the campaign before returning and winning there in the Kent Senior Cup, albeit with both clubs playing fringe players and youngsters. The record demonstrates where Welling’s problems have been this season.

They were unlucky not to have beaten confirmed runners-up, Dartford, when drawing with them at Park View Road. They trounced third placed Oxford City, and won at Chelmsford City who are fourth. However, they have struggled against teams at the other end of the table including two league and an F.A. Cup defeat against Weymouth.

In the first minute of the Ebbsfleet game, the visitors’ goalkeeper Mark Cousins took a huge risk when using tricky footwork to wrong-foot Payne inside his own area but, after that, it was the Fleet that had the better of the opening exchanges. Darren McQueen fired over three times before Welling should have been awarded a penalty when Haydn Hollis hauled back Manny Parry with his hand pulling back the Wings’ player by the face.

McQueen created a chance for Shaquile Couthirst that needed Welling goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle to claim at the second attempt before the Fleet went ahead. McQueen was given time to bring down a fifty yard pass and play in to Coulthirst. He then ran on to the return pass and shot low into the bottom corner.

Greg Cundle missed a great chance to double their lead when easing in but ‘passing’ his low shot beyond the far post.

However, after their slow start, Welling started to come into the game and were given an opportunity and took full advantage when Ade Azeez was fouled outside the penalty area. Medy Elito delivered a free kick that picked out Manny Parry at the far post. He headed back across goal and it was knocked into the path of Payne. He shot first time and his deflected effort gave Cousins no chance.

Christie Pattisson might have put them ahead when he robbed an out of sorts Billy Clifford and surged into the penalty area but Cousins beat out his powerful drive.

Coulthirst headed wide from McQueen’s cross shortly before half time but it was Welling who went ahead soon after the break. Ade Azeez was thwarted by Cousins but it came out to Payne and he claimed the last touch at the far post.

Cundle came close to levelling when prodding against the base of the far post before Welling bundled it away.

James Dunne typified Welling’s determination when closing down Clifford and nicking it away from him. He passed to Payne who completed his hat-trick with a brilliant finish from twenty yards.

Azeez shot well over before Welling came close to a fourth. Dunne clipped towards the far post where Parry headed wide at the far post.

Josh Wright pulled one back in stoppage time but it was too late for the Fleet.

On Tuesday night, the Wings play their final home match entertaining Hampton and Richmond Borough before they visit Havant and Waterlooville next Saturday for their final match of the campaign.

Welling United: McKenzie-Lyle, Cox (Kassarate 76), Ezennolim, Parry, Sendles-White, Lyons-Foster, Pattisson, Dunne, Payne (Nkrumah 90+1), Azeez (Balarabe 83), Elito. Sub not used: Gavin, Andrews.