BY MARK DOIG
Although frustrated not to win, Welling United claimed a point against Havant & Waterlooville that might prove crucial at the end of the National League South season.
The Wings went into the game one point above bottom club Billericay Town while visitors Havant were in the final play-off place. Any neutral would have been hard pressed to say who were promotion contenders and which team was fighting to avoid relegation.
Warren Feeney was missing centre-backs Taylor Curran and Bradley Pearce so he had to play Ben Margetson alongside Jamie Sendles-White and brought Ben Wells into midfield. Former Crystal Palace U23 striker Alfie Matthews was not fit enough to start so Ben Allen also came in.
Wells might have celebrated his return with a third minute goal when his shot from 20 yards clattered the crossbar with goalkeeper Ross Worgan well beaten.
Dipo Akinyemi tried to work space for himself but the Hawks defence did not allow him room and he blasted his shot high and wide. Welling’s leading scorer then headed on a long ball to Harvey Bradbury and from his pull back, Joe Oastler lashed over his own bar.
Another half chance came and went when Wells arrived late from a Bradley Stevenson corner but he could only balloon it over.
Welling went behind in the 28th minute. James Roberts picked his spot and executed his 20-yard curler to perfection into the top corner.
Jake McCarthy attempted an acrobatic effort that flew wide before Billy Clifford’s free-kick fell into the path of Paul Rooney but Wells closed him down and blocked his shot away for a corner.
Akinyemi had the last effort of the first half but his low drive was held by Worgan at the second attempt.
Bradbury headed wide from a Stevenson corner after the restart and his threat in the air meant that from Stevenson’s next corner, Bradbury was sufficiently manhandled for a penalty to be awarded.
Akinyemi stepped up and sent Worgan the wrong way to level.
From that point on, Welling had the better of things but struggled to create openings until they went ahead with 12 minutes remaining. Matthews, who had just come on as a substitute, found Ade Shokunbi and he fired home from 20 yards.
Roberts fired over, and after Boyce-Clarke had claimed a free-kick from a dangerous area, it appeared that Welling would claim the three points but they were thwarted in the 96th minute when Havant snatched an equaliser, hooked home by Jake Edwards.
It was tough for the Wings to take but if they show the same spirit and desire in their final three games they will have a good chance of staying in the National League South.
PICTURES: DAVE BUDDEN
Main Pic: Welling bench react to going ahead