Havant and Waterlooville v Welling United preview
Havant and Waterlooville v Welling United preview

Steve Lovell has been Welling United manager for over six months but on Saturday he will be in charge for just his fourth competitive match.

His Welling team travel to Havant and Waterlooville for their first National League South game of the new season and he knows what a tough task he his team has against one of the promotion favourites.

He will take heart from the fact that in the three games in which he was in charge last season, the team recorded a win a draw and a defeat. They started with a well earned draw at Dartford and finishing with a thrilling victory over Ebbsfleet United.   

Numerous changes have been made to the Welling squad since that day with only three of the starters and two of the substitutes remaining at the club. However, the three players who shared the goals that day, Olumide Durojaiye, Dipo Akinyemi (2) and Kristian Campbell are all likely to start on Saturday.

It’s difficult for teams to prepare for the opposition on the opening day of the season as pre-season friendlies don’t give the full story and all teams have a number of new players but Lovell will know how Paul Doswell likes to set his team out, and many of the players in the Havant side.

There was no meeting between the two clubs in last season’s null and void campaign (Welling only completed 14 league games), and in the season before they only met once, also a season opener at Havant. For the Hawks, it was their first game since being relegated from the National League and they were heavy favourites to bounce back up but the Wings earned a commendable point in a one-one draw.

Roarie Deacon put Havant ahead after just ten minutes but Luke Rooney had a goal disallowed for offside before Adam Coombes levelled five minutes before the break. In the second half Welling’s defensive qualities were put to the test and they passed with flying colours. In fact they might have nicked all three points when they had a couple of chances in the closing minutes.

One player in the Havant squad who will be familiar to Welling supporters is Theo Widdrington who was popular during a successful loan spell at Park View Road from Bristol Rovers two seasons ago.

Picture supplied by Dave Budden.