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Welling book Senior Cup semi spot
Welling book Senior Cup semi spot

Although both Welling United and Tonbridge Angels are prioritising National League South safety, the Kent Senior Cup provided a welcome diversion and the two teams left nothing on the pitch.

Twice, the visitors held a lead but were pegged back and the game went to a penalty shoot-out before the Wings progressed to the semi-final. Warren Feeney and Steve McKimm used the match to give some fringe players match time and will have decisions to make before selecting their starting line-ups for their respective Good Friday matches.

Feeney’s Wings started the quicker, but it was Tonbridge who went ahead in the ninth minute. Aaron Smith-Joseph slung in a cross, and Jake Embury got between the two Welling centre backs to fire home from close range.

Ben Allen thought that he had levelled when he headed home Mason Saunders-Henry’s cross, but the assistant referee’s flag was raised for what must have been a very tight offside decision.

Toby McKimm came out to clear, but he sliced it straight out to Saunders-Henry whose first time shot flew well over. McKimm then saved comfortably from a Harvey Bradbury header before he had to work harder to make a good save from Allen after Chi Ezennolim’s good run and pull back.

Alfie Matthews headed wide from Allen’s cross, and it came as no surprise when Welling levelled six minutes before half time. Ezennolim sent over a deep cross and Saunders-Henry stole in to finish at the far post.

Early in the second half Ibrahim Olutade headed wide from Embury’s cross before Welling were offered the chance to go ahead from the spot when Harry Hudson handled in the box. Matthews stepped up but McKimm went the right way and made the save.

Smith-Joseph slung in a free kick for the Angels that beat everyone but went just wide before the Angels regained the lead. Embury burst through but Sam Jackson came out and made a good block. However, it came out to Olutade, and he fired home first time.

Dipo Akinyemi, Ade Shokunbi and Bradley Stevenson were all brought on before the game restarted but Joe Turner flashed his shot just wide before they had a chance to make an impact. Luca Woodhouse also blasted wide before Welling levelled with six minutes remaining. Aaron Barnes was tripped in the penalty area and Akinyemi sent McKimm the wrong way from the spot.

Akinyemi might have won it, but McKimm made a stunning save to tip his header over before making another excellent save when coming out quickly to keep out Stevenson’s effort as he burst through.

Turner had the last shooting opportunity for the Angels but fired wide of the near post and so it went to penalties.

Welling went two-one up after two each then both teams hit the woodwork. McKimm made another incredible save to level things up after four each then Smith-Joseph and Shokunbi each converted to send it into sudden death. Jackson saved from Olutade allowing Matthews to atone for his earlier penalty miss by firing home the winning penalty. 

Welling United: Jackson, Barnes, Ezennolim, Wells (Shokunbi 70), Pearce, Statham, Allen, Burnett (Stevenson 70), Bradshaw (Akinyemi 70), Matthews, Saunders-Henry.

Subs not used: Sendles-White.

Goalscorers: Mason-Saunders (39), Akinyemi pen (84)

Yellow cards: Statham

Tonbridge Angels: McKimm, Fielding, Smith-Joseph, Loft, Tyrie, Hudson, Modeste (Turner 61), Woodhouse, Olutade, Embury (O’Sullivan 75), Hermitage (Green 61).

Subs not used: Wood, Henly.

Goalscorers: Embury (9), Olutade (70)

Yellow cards: Tyrie

Referee: Harry Wager

Assistants: Ryan Chantrill-Smith and Matthew Jackson

Fourth Official: Gerry Heron

Attendance: 214

Pictures supplied by Dave Budden.