Grays Athletic 1-1 Welling United - You always need a bit of luck, admits Welling United boss Loui Fazakerley

Sunday 25th October 2015
Grays Athletic 1 – 1 Welling United
Location Mill Field, Mill Road, Aveley, Essex RM15 4SJ
Kickoff 25/10/2015 14:00

The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round (Sponsored by Emirates)
Sunday 25th October 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Mill Field

WELLING UNITED manager Loui Fazakerley admits the club are lucky to still be involved in The FA Cup.

Grays Athletic went into this Fourth Qualifying Round tie sitting in the top-eight in the Ryman Premier League table with 27 points from 15 games, while Welling United play two levels higher in the Vanarama National League, sitting in seventeenth-place on 22 points from 17 games.

But Mark Bentley’s side were the better one as Welling United put in a poor performance for 75 minutes before snatching a second bite of the cherry at Park View Road on Tuesday night.

The Essex side shaded the near post during a first half where Welling United offered very, very little in the final third.

The home side’s largest crowd of the season sensed a Cup shock was on the cards when substitute Alex Addai scored his first goal of the season with a sublime low drive with sixteen minutes left.

Grays Athletic squandered an excellent chance to send the Wings crashing out of the competition at their first attempt but striker Dumebi GB-Dumaka smashed his shot against the crossbar.

But Welling United escaped from jail when Sam Corne scored his third goal of the season with seven minutes left.

Grays Athletic groundshare Aveley’s Mill Field ground and the pitch is in a poor condition with the ball bouncing all over the place and Welling United found it difficult to adapt.

The Wings were without Tom King, George Porter, Harry Lee, Sandro Semedo, Nortei Nortey, Kojo Awotwi, Tashan Adeyinka and Joey Taylor for various reasons.

“We got away with one there, we got away with one there,” admitted Fazakerley, following his first FA Cup tie in charge of Welling United.

“Happy to get the draw and get the replay and I’m sure we’ll be better in the second game.”

When asked about the bumpy playing surface, Fazakerley replied: “We’re not going to use that as an excuse.

“We knew what the situation was before the game. We knew what the pitch was like and both teams have got to play on it so there’s no way we’ll be using that as an excuse.

“I just thought our decision making on the ball wasn’t good enough in the first half. We didn’t play to our strengths and our game plan.

“Yes, it wasn’t great!

“We switched things up in the second half and I thought we were better and I thought we did deserve the equaliser and we could have got another one.”

Grays Athletic created the first chance of the game as the game entered the 10th minute.

Harry Agombar received the ball on the very edge of the Welling United penalty area and he found Roman Michael-Percil unmarked inside the box but his right-footed angled drive from sixteen-yards was saved low to his right by the recalled Michael McEntegart at his near post.

Grays Athletic left-back Jeyasiva Sivapathasundaran swept in a free-kick from the left which sailed over to unmarked striker Dumaka, who brought the ball down to stroke his right-footed drive which McEntegart saved comfortably low to his right.

Welling United created their only chance of the first half after 19 minutes.

Bentley fouled striker Sahr Kabba and former Dulwich Hamlet midfielder Xavier Vidal looked up in the sky after fizzing his right-footed angled free-kick across the keeper and just past the far post from 30-yards.

Fazakerley said: “From our angle it looked very, very close! I’m sure the video footage will prove that.  Yes, we know what Xavier can do from set-pieces, that’s why he’s on.”

But that was to become Welling United’s only chance of the first half, as Grays Athletic shaded  an uninspiring first half stalemate.

Sivapathathasundaran swept forward a free-kick from inside the Grays’ half of the pitch and the ball was cleared out to Kenny Beaney, the skipper, whose left-footed half-volley from 30-yards was gobbled up by McEntegart.

The home side were direct, hitting their big target-man Dumaka, who went into this game with 15 goals to his name. Welling United, meanwhile, simply struggled to string any passes together on the worst pitch that they will play on this season.

Welling United received their first bit of luck in the 34th minute when Grays Athletic grazed the foot of the near post.

Holding midfielder Bentley played the ball up to Michael-Percil, who released left-winger Joao Carlos through on goal, but he poked his left-footed shot against the upright from a tight angle from eight-yards when he only had the keeper to beat.

The Welling United boss added: “They’ve got some dangerous players, their wide players are good.  Big man up top is good, he’s a handful. We knew they’ll be dangerous going forward and they proved it.”

Sivapathathasundaran stroked a left-footed free-kick just over the crossbar from 25-yards from the right-hand side of the D.

Grays Athletic missed a great chance to take the lead three minutes before the break.

Right-back Luke Ifill advanced forward and from the final third hung over an inch-perfect cross into the middle but Dumaka’s towering header went straight at McEntegart from six-yards.

Agombar wasted a good opportunity to get a free-kick on target for the home side, drilling his right-footed free-kick from 28-yards over the bar and into the covered terracing.

Fazakerley made a change at half-time with Zach Fagan coming on in central midfield for Afalobi Obafemi, but they took a very long time to click into gear.

Fazakerley said: “We just told them we need the tempo to lift and we needed them to be braver, to get on the ball.

“We had to do things quicker. I thought we did that in the second half. We were a lot better.”

Grays Athletic created the first chance inside ten minutes when Dumaka’s flicked pass put Carlos through on goal and he was fouled just outside the box by Kevin Lokko, who was booked.

McEntegart pulled off a smart diving save low to his left to prevent Agombar’s right-footed free-kick from 20-yards finding the bottom far corner.

Fazakerley said: “We’ve got full faith in Mike, he’s come in. Tom King wasn’t allowed to play today. Mikey’s come in and done a good job.”

Sivapathathasundaran swing in a free-kick into the Welling United penalty area and Bentley glanced his header from 15-yards into McEntegart’s hands for a comfortable catch after 63 minutes.

Sivapathathasundaran then whipped in a teasing free-kick from a similar area and McEntegart opted to kick the ball away after the ball bounced in front of him.

Welling United’s best chance of the game arrived in the 72nd minute.

Vidal played the ball into Ricky Wellard who freed left-winger Reece Harris down the inside channel.  His cross sailed across the face of goal towards the far post where the unmarked Corne hit a first time shot past the near post from six-yards, holding his head in his hands in agony.

“We told Corney to get in the box a little bit more often and he did that,” added Fazakerley.

“You’ve got to be in the box to be able to miss them, so he’s got himself in the box, which is good and at least he’s made up for that miss and got the goal!”

Grays Athletic celebrated wildly both on and off-the-pitch when they took a deserved lead with 28 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Addai was only on the pitch for less than four minutes when he received the ball at his feet on the corner of the penalty area on the right hand side.

The winger played the ball into Dumaka’s feet and his flicked pass was drilled first time, left-footed, across the diving McEntegart to nestle inside the bottom far corner of the net from 16-yards.

“It was a good bit of play from them,” said Fazakerley.

“We’ve just got to be able to track the runner, track the man on the ball. He’s played a give-and-go and he should’ve been tracked a little bit better than that.

“It was a good strike – don’t take anything away from the strike – it was a good shot!

“We had to find a way to find an equaliser at least so we changed a few things up – and it worked!”

Grays Athletic will regret missing a great chance to double their lead with 36:35 on the clock.

The impressive Carlos danced his way towards the left-hand by-line and rolled the ball back towards the unmarked Dumaka, who smashed his left-footed shot against the crossbar from 10-yards, when it seemed easier to score his sixteenth-goal of the season.

Fazakerley simply admitted: “You always need a bit of luck, a bit of the rub of the green - and we got it!”

Welling United immediately went up the other end from the resulting goal-kick and snatched an equaliser just 51 seconds later.

Fagan passed to Wellard and the captain found Corne inside the box, the central midfielder sweeping his right-footed shot past the diving goalkeeper to find the right-hand corner from ten-yards.

“Very good bit of play,” came Fazakerley’s response to his side’s jail break.

“Zach Fagan got on the ball, we brought him on in there to get on the ball and get us playing and he played a nice ball to Rick and Rick played a very nice ball into Corney, who once again made a good run in to the box and a great finish from him.”

The game opened up late on and Addai put over a hanging cross sailing over McEntegart’s head towards the far post which could not be turned in by Dumaka.

Welling United could have grabbed an undeserved victory when otherwise quiet striker Kabba rode a bookable challenge from Sean Cronin and found Barney Williams unmarked inside the box but Lamar Joseph-Johnson pulled off a great save, high to his right, to turn the right-footed angled drive from 15-yards over the crossbar.

The Wings boss said: “Kabbs did well; he rode the challenge very well and obviously laid Barney on for a shot. It was a good strike from Barney; he hit the target, made the keeper work.”

Grays Athletic missed another great chance with virtually the last kick of the game.

Central defender Jay Leader – who alongside Cronin kept Welling United at bay – ran with the ball into the Welling half before slipped the ball through to Dumaka.

With the ball bouncing underneath his feet due to the poor state of the pitch the striker blazed his right-footed half-volley high over the bar from just inside the penalty area.

Welling United were extremely lucky and must put in a better performance at Park View Road on Tuesday night if they are to reach the FA Cup First Round for the 13th time in their history.

“It was end-to-end towards the end. I’m just happy that we’ve got a chance to play a lot better on Tuesday in the replay,” said Fazakerley.

“We’re going to be a lot better in the replay.  It’s good that we’ve got another chance so looking forward to the game.

“We want to get into the next round no matter what.  We’re just going to focus on Tuesday and win that game and whoever we get, we get.”

Fazakerley remained tight lipped when asked whether he make any changes for the home replay.

“We’ll have to see what it’s like over the next couple of days,” he said.

Grays Athletic:  Lamar Joseph-Johnson, Luke Ifill, Jeyasiva Sivapathasundaran, Sean Cronin, Jay Leader, Mark Bentley, Roman Michael-Percil (Alex Addai 70), Kenny Beaney (James Stephens 84), Dumebi GB-Dumaka, Harry Agombar, Joao Carlos.
Subs: Tommy Cummings, George Kamurasi, Lamar Reynolds, Bradley Fortune-Thomlinson, Glen Little

Goal: Alex Addai 74

Booked: Sean Cronin 89

Welling United: Michael McEntegart, Barney Williams, Ben Jefford, Sam Corne, Kevin Lokko (Michael Bakare 82), Michael Chambers, Reece Harris, Xavier Vidal, Sahr Kabba, Afalobi Obafemi (Zach Fagan 46) Ricky Wellard.
Subs: Charlie Cottrell, Kurtis Cumberbatch, Steve Gunner, Archie Johnson, James Fitchett

Goal: Sam Corne 83

Booked: Kevin Lokko 54, Sam Corne 65

Attendance: 512
Referee: Mr Alan Young (Ely, Cambridgeshire)
Assistants: Mr Matthew Goldsmith (Hastings, East Sussex) & Mr David Spain (Westfield, East Sussex)
Fourth Official:  Mr David Hutton (Basildon, Essex)

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