On Non-League Day, Welling United and Havant and Waterlooville served up a cracker of a match.
Coming into the game, the visitors had won seven and drawn one of their eight league games whilst Welling had only lost one of their last eight league and cup matches. Both teams came in looking for the three points and went toe-to-toe in an enthralling battle.
James Roberts scored a late, late leveller when the two teams met last season and he was again Havant’s main threat. He had a chance early on with a free kick that drifted wide of the near post before Welling had their first opportunity. Stefan Payne shot from just inside the penalty area and Ross Worner did well to push it away. Ade Azeez was first to the rebound, but Worner was equal to his effort from a tight angle.
Myles Roberts, Welling’s goalkeeper, made an outstanding save from his namesake before Azeez got on the end of a clever Welling free kick routine but Worner again got down to make an excellent stop.
Just before the half hour mark, Welling went ahead. Azeez was played in by a clever Payne lob and he held off Joash Membhard as he fired home.
However, within six minutes Havant were level. Roberts sent in a low cross that Jamie Sendles-White attempted to cut out but he could only divert it into his own net.
Another six minutes passed before Welling went back ahead. Aaron Barnes was too strong for Joe Newton and his low cross found its way to Taylor Maloney who fired home from twelve yards.
Shortly before half time, Billy Clifford flew in with a nasty challenge that sparked off a bout of pushing and shoving before he was shown a yellow card.
Soon after the break, Welling’s goalkeeper Roberts had to be out sharply to clear as Havant looked to get in behind before he was called upon to make another brilliant save from Havant’s Roberts. He made a further good save from Hawks substitute Muhammadu Faal before twice keeping out Roberts’s headers.
His best save was still to come, though, and again it was the Havant midfielder who was thwarted. He sent in a curler that looked to be destined for the top corner, but Welling’s Roberts flung himself full length to tip it away.
While the Hawks searched for the equaliser, Welling looked dangerous on the break and Azeez was tripped cynically by Clifford earning him a second yellow card and an early bath.
Despite the set-back, Havant continued to search for a leveller and were rewarded with four minutes remaining when the previously quiet Jason Prior got in front of his man with a diving header from Josh Passley’s cross.
Deep into injury time, Welling thought that they had won it, but the ball had gone out of play before Chi Ezennolim forced it home.
Welling United: Roberts, Barnes, Ezennolim, Olomowewe, Sendles-White, Parry, Maloney, Dunne, Azeez (Papadopoulos 83), Payne, Kassarate (Aransibia 83). Sub not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Hyde, Francis.