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Feeney given Welling tonic
Feeney given Welling tonic

Having been pegged back from a two-goal lead Welling United held their nerves to defeat Havant and Waterlooville. Warren Feeney, the Welling manager, left his sick bed to attend the match and received just the tonic that he wanted.

He said: “It was a very tough game because they are a very, very good side. They’re up where they are on merit. They’ve got good players, good people in the club and we knew it was going to be a difficult, difficult game.

“We probably started a little bit flat, even when we went one-nil up I said to the boys ‘we’ve got to be better’. We had the one where Taylor slipped that could have put us three-one up (then) they go and score, but I still fancied us. We’ve had a few players struggling this week with an illness, but they picked themselves up and they really played for the shirt today.”

“The performance was the big thing for me.” He continued. “If we’d have lost the game, I can take getting beaten if you play like that. But that’s the standard that I want to see the players at, and I told them that there. If you play like that, we’re a match for anyone in this league. You ‘ve seen Havant and what they’ve got and they’re a top, top team. We went about our business correct today and we set a marker down.”

In an attempt to get a little more out of his team, he made minor adjustments to the formation and it paid dividends. Feeney confirmed:

“We’ve tweaked the way we play a little bit. It’s something that I played in Bulgaria and won the league and it’s something that I wanted to look at. It’s given the boys confidence and they’re enjoying their football. They showed that today.

“When they went two-two we could have folded because they’ve got very good players. Danny Wright, up front, played in the league for years and (Jason) Prior is a league winner in this league. Billy Clifford, (James) Roberts, they’ve got good players through the team, but I thought we stood strong today. The big thing today was we didn’t lie down, we kept on the front foot, and I thought there were some fantastic performances out there.”

Illness in the camp made preparation difficult and Myles Roberts was not well enough for selection.

Others missed some of the training sessions. Feeney said: “It’s difficult when you’re ill but the boys picked themselves off their beds and they wanted to play. That’s the big thing. I haven’t been the best myself.”

Ade Azeez scored a brace, and Feeney was thrilled that it took him into double figures for the season so far. “If you have a striker who scores ten before Christmas, you’re delighted but I thought the front three were outstanding today.”

He confirmed: “Taylor (Maloney) is clever. He comes into pockets. When the ball goes up front, Payney (Stefan Payne) will make it stick or win his headers, and with Ade, he’ll run in behind.

“I thought his second finish was outstanding, but his first finish was even better because they’re the goals that strikers have got to score. Same as Payney’s finish today. Taylor hits a great shot, everyone’s on their toes but Payney reacts (with) a controlled header.

“I’m also pleased with the defence. It’s difficult against that team as they score goals for fun, but we stood up strong and I’m delighted for everyone at the club.”

On Tuesday night, Welling have a Kent Senior Cup tie against Sittingbourne and Feeney confirmed that it would be an opportunity to look at some of his squad players:

“We’ve got Amadou (Kassarate) coming back. He could do with a game, and Paps (Antony Papadopoulos) there. You’re coming to a very busy Christmas period where you need everyone firing so it will be a chance for me to mix the squad about and give the boys minutes under their belts. You’ve got the (under) 23s you want to dip into because it’s important to give them a chance and see if they’re ready for the first team.

“Palace (Francis) has gone out on loan to one of his old clubs, but the good thing is Jay Simpson will be available now which is a great bonus for us.”

When considering who Welling would prefer in the next round draw, Feeney said: “If you’d said before the draw, that you’d get Havant, you’d be absolutely knocked. Dos (Havant manager Paul Doswell) said the exact same, but I was quite pleased as well because I knew that the boys would rise to the occasion today. As I said to them, it’s the Non-League F.A. Cup and you want to get as far as you can.

“We don’t care who play. We’ll be looking forward to whoever we get next. We want a home draw, definitely, but as I say we’re not too bothered. We’re in the next round, which is all that counts, and we’ll see where the draw takes us.”

Picture supplied by Dave Budden.