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Welling United 3-2 Ebbsfleet United
Welling United 3-2 Ebbsfleet United

Victory over champions Ebbsfleet United guaranteed Vanarama National League South football for Welling United.

Coming into the game, only Dartford and Tonbridge Angels had not suffered league defeat this season against the Fleet but Welling joined the other two Kent sides in that feat having drawn in Northfleet earlier in the campaign.

Early on, it looked as though the champions were going to swamp Welling with their free flowing quick passing game that had the hosts chasing shadows. Twice in quick succession, Darren McQueen cut in from the right but fired well over with his left foot.

He had another chance soon after when Chi Ezennolim slipped allowing him to meet a cross unmarked however he couldn’t keep his volley down.

Manny Parry was then mauled in the penalty area but neither the referee nor the assistant deemed the challenge illegal and all appeals were waved away.

McQueen was involved again at the other end when crossing in low. Shaquile Coulthirst met it with a first time close range flick that Kai McKenzie-Lyle saved at the second attempt. Soon after, Ebbsfleet went ahead. McQueen was allowed to bring down a long cross-field pass and exchange passes with Coulthirst before firing home.

Greg Cundle then eased his way in from the other side and placed his low shot just wide of the far upright before Welling levelled. Medy Elito sent a free kick over to the far post, Manny Parry headed back across goal and it fell for Stefan Payne who fired home via a deflection.

Josh Wright delayed shooting for Ebbsfleet and it fell into the path of McQueen but his shot was too straight and lacked power allowing McKenzie-Lyle to make an easy save.

Christie Pattisson shook off Billy Clifford’s attempt to foul him and unleashed a powerful shot that Mark Cousins was happy to beat out before Ebbsfleet were back on the attack. Cundle drove across the face of goal and McKenzie-Lyle did well to knock it out of danger before Coulthirst headed wide just before the break.

Four minutes after the interval, Welling went ahead. Elito’s free kick caused problems and although Cousins knocked out Ade Azeez’s shot, Payne was in the right place to pounce and force it home amid Ebbsfleet protests.

Cundle came close to levelling when his flick came back out off the far post and Welling scrambled it away before Haydn Hollis headed over from a deep cross.

Midway through the second half, Welling added a third. James Dunne nicked it away from a dithering defender and found Payne in the clear. He sized up his angles before curling his shot superbly into the top corner.

As Ebbsfleet chased the game it became more stretched and Elito found Azeez who shot over before Luke O’Neil missed the angle of bar and post at the other end. Coulthirst headed wide from Toby Edser’s corner then Welling had a great chance to put the game to bed. Dunne chipped to the far post but Parry headed wide from close range.

Elliott Romain had strong claims for a penalty turned away before the Fleet scored a consolation goal deep into stoppage time. Coulthirst pulled back from the bye-line and Wright fired home.

After the match ended Wright was able to start his preparations to run the London Marathon on the following day.

Welling United: McKenzie-Lyle, Cox (Kassarate 76), Ezennolim, Parry, Sendles-White, Lyons-Foster, Pattisson, Dunne, Payne (Nkrumah 90+1), Azeez (Balarabe 83), Elito.

Sub not used: Gavin, Andrews.

Goalscorers: Payne (34), (49). (66)

Yellow cards: Ezennolim, Cox, Parry, Dunne

Ebbsfleet United: Cousins, O’Neill, Martin (Romain 63), Wright, Solly, Hollis, McQueen, Clifford (N’Guessan 69), Coulthirst, Edser, Cundle (Chapman 86).

Subs not used: Jombati, Finney.

Goalscorer: McQueen (19), Wright (90+4)

Yellow cards: Clifford

Referee: Farai Hallam

Assistants: Michael Hayden and Rudin Preca

Attendance: 1,132

Pictures supplied by Michael Brown.