Welling United 0-0 Hemel Hempstead Town - A draw is probably a fair result. I don’t think either side done enough to win it, admits Welling United coach Jack Parkinson

Tuesday 10th April 2018
Welling United 0 – 0 Hemel Hempstead Town
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 10/04/2018 19:45

Vanarama National League South
Tuesday 10 April 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

WELLING UNITED coach Jack Parkinson says it’s pleasing that his side are in the play-off mix going into their last four games of the season.

The Wings are in eighth-place in the Vanarama National League South table with 58 points after being held to an uninspiring goal-less stalemate by a Hemel Hempstead Town side that are in seventh-place, just three points above them.

Dean Brennan’s side dominated the entire first half as Welling United failed to keep hold of the ball, but the Tudors didn’t create anything clear cut despite their possession, while Welling United put in a much improved second half performance.

Hemel Hempstead finished the game with ten-men when defender Kyle Connolly was sent-off in the 88th minute after picking up his second yellow card.

“A draw is probably a fair result. I don’t think either side done enough to win it,” admitted Parkinson, who was sent out to do press duties after player-manager Jamie Coyle was receiving treatment to a bang to his nose that he sustained during the second half.

“I thought Hemel, for the first half-an-hour, were better than us. They were a little bit sharper.  They didn’t create too much but they were a little bit more of a threat.

“We seemed to give them a little bit too much time of the ball. I didn’t feel we got tight enough all over the pitch.

“It was important to come in at half-time without conceding. The message at half-time was we needed to get up the pitch a little bit.  We were a little bit too deep.

“We changed the shape a little bit in the second half, went with a flat four to stop them getting the ball wide and I think it worked.   We seemed to pick up a lot more seconds, again, without us being a massive threat around their goal.  I thought we were the better side in the second half.”

Welling United almost got off to the perfect start against fellow play-off hopefuls Hemel Hempstead Town, hitting the woodwork just 127 seconds into the game.

Connor Dymond floated in a free-kick into the Hemel Hempstead box and player-manager Coyle’s bullet header was tipped onto the crossbar by visiting keeper Laurie Walker.

“He’s got that horse head Coylie, he pops out from nowhere and he’s got a few goals this year and that’s how our luck is going at the moment,” said Parkinson.

“We’ve had a couple of near misses recently and on Saturday Havant & Waterlooville had one chance and scored.  It happens over the course of the season. We’ve won games maybe we shouldn’t have won and we’ve lost games we shouldn’t have lost so these things happen.”

Hemel Hempstead were a threat down the left-hand side as winger Karl Oliyide impressed and 18-goal Jordan Parkes made them tick in midfield.

“We wasn’t tight enough all over the pitch and we allowed them to get in good possession and allowed them to switch the play too easily and I thought once we changed that in the second half we were a lot better,” said Parkinson.

Welling United switched off from an 18th minute throw-in, which was taken by Joe Howe, who featured at right-back in the first half before switching to left-back after the interval.

Scott Shulton played the ball inside to Spencer McCall, and the winger stepped inside his marker to stroke a low right-footed drive from 14-yards, which was saved comfortably by Bailey Vose in the Welling goal.

Hemel Hempstead’s five of six corners came in the first 30 minutes but Welling United packed their penalty area and got bodies in the way of shots on numerous occasions.

The ball was like a hot potato for Welling United during the first half as they kept giving it away.

Welling striker Jamie Philpot lost the ball in the middle of the park and Shulton released lone striker David Mayo, whose shot deflected off Coyle and flashed past the near post for a corner.

Welling cleared their lines and a loose ball was picked up by Connolly, who played the ball down the line to Ismail Yakubu, who teed up Oliyide, who drilled his angled drive past the near post from outside the box on the left-hand side.

Welling United struggled with their 4-3-1-2 formation during a one-sided first half but they did create something in the 34th minute.

Dymond played the ball into hard-working central midfield partner Olumide Durojaiye, who released ineffective striker Bradley Goldberg down the right.  The former Bromley striker reached the by-line and cut the ball back for Philpot who could only poke the ball past the near post from a tight angle.

“We had a couple of half-chances,” said Parkinson, who is currently out suspended.

“I think if you look over 90 minutes, neither keeper’s had to make a save and I think if you’re looking at it, it was two teams a little big cagey for most of the game. It was quite an important game for both sides so I suppose before the game if you’d had said to both managers would you take a draw?  I’m sure they would’ve taken one!”

The only saving grace was Hemel Hempstead failed to call Vose into any serious action and despite all of their possession the men in green didn’t take the lead that their dominance deserved.

“We were probably a little bit too deep and we just couldn’t get near anybody and because we weren’t sharp enough, I just don’t think we worked hard enough and that’s something that’s a little unlike us,” admitted Parkinson.

“We just didn’t seem to get up the pitch quickly enough and we didn’t press the ball hard enough and just the basic stuff.  We allowed them to switch the play too easily, which was hurting us a little bit but once we changed it, it was fine and I thought we were the better side in the second half.”

Parkinson added: “It was important we got in at half-time. We needed to put that behind us quickly. We needed to get up the pitch a bit more. We couldn’t put enough pressure on the ball higher up the pitch so it was important clearances went a big bigger to allow us up the pitch but also it was important to squeeze the midfield three on to get a little bit tighter to their boys.  We went with a flat four and it allowed Joe Healy to get on the ball a little bit more and stop their threat out wide.”

Welling United forced their first of four second half corners inside the opening eight minutes.

Dymond floated in a free-kick which fell at Coyle’s feet on the corner of the six-yard box and his drive was blocked by two visiting players pressing.

Ryan Hall swung in the resulting corner from the left and the ball was cleared out to Dymond, who flashed a right-footed drive through a crowd of players and past the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Joe Healy, who slotted into midfield after the break, as sitting behind Goldberg and Philpot didn’t work during the first period, played the ball over the top to put Philpot in behind Connolly but he lashed his right-footed drive over the crossbar from 20-yards.

“Where we changed the shape second half it allowed Jamie to play a little bit more central,” explained Parkinson.

“In the first half Bradley (Goldberg) and Jamie were a little bit too wide, where we had to deal with their full-backs and it was a great ball from Joe. We felt we could get down the side, their full-backs were playing very high and that’s one thing we mentioned at half-time.  Blind passes down the side of their two centre halves was on and Joe’s hit a lovely pass and unfortunately Jamie couldn’t hit the target.”

Welling United produced their best move of the game in the 62nd minute.

Coyle pinged a sublime 60-yard crossfield pass out of defence which picked out Hall on the left and he whipped in a fine cross towards the near post and Goldberg slid in to blast his volley over the crossbar from 10-yards.

Parkinson said: “Brad was offside anyway, the linesman’s flag went up so it was unfortunate. It was a great pass from Coylie and it was a great area from Ryan as well and unfortunately it’s just the way we’re going.”

Four minutes later Coyle hit a free-kick straight to Hall, whose volley took a deflection before screaming across the penalty area and past the far post for a corner.

It was a much better Welling performance in the second half and home fans felt their side smashed the deadlock inside the final four minutes.

Substitute winger Christian Nanetti cut in and dinked a ball into the box which was knocked down by fellow sub striker Tom Bradbrook and the flag had already been raised by the time Philpot poked the ball over the line from close range.

“Bradbrook had a little nudge on it and Jamie’s followed it in. I’m miles away so I couldn’t tell if it was offside or not.  It’s just those little fine moments not going our way at the minute.”

Connolly, who started at left-back before moving inside next to Darren Ward after the interval, was booked in the first half for kicking the ball away and he picked up his second yellow and a red card from referee Will Finnie after the last-defender illegally ended Philpot’s progress towards the edge of the penalty area on the right-hand side with two minutes of a boring game left to contest.

“Me and Tristan (Lewis) were saying in the dug-out we felt someone was going to be sent-off tonight, it was quite fiery, especially in the middle of the pitch,” added Parkinson.

“That one was definitely a second yellow, he’s brought Jamie down. Jamie’s in so if anything it was probably a good foul.

“I felt their seven (Saunders) was fortunate not to be sent-off for a second foul.”

Welling Untied travel to basement side Whitehawk on Saturday, before welcoming Weston-super-Mare (21 April) and Bath City (24 April) to Park View Road, before completing their League campaign with a trip to Chippenham Town on 28 April.

“A loss would’ve made it tough because we need four wins,” said Parkinson.

“Frustrating in a way that we felt in the last three sides we’ve matched each side we’ve played. We’ve just not had that little bit of quality at the other end to finish them off.

“But look, at the start of the season if someone said to us with four or five games to go we’d still be in the mix for the play-offs we’d bite their hand off, with a new side together.

“Whitehawk is always tough. We went to watch them last night away to Chelmsford (losing 4-2) and they were really unlucky not to get something.  They’re a big, big, big powerful side and they’ve got some good players. They’ve got a good manager (Steve King) who has been around this league for a long time.

“It’s not an easy place to go either with the pitch so it will be tough and then we’ve got two home games against Weston and Bath and then we finish up with Chippenham where we’re hoping we’ve got enough that we can pick up at least three wins from these and we’ll see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Welling put striker Adam Coombes’ name on the team-sheet and Parkinson explained why the 26-year-old didn’t feature tonight.

“He was named on the bench, he wasn’t fit, he wasn’t kitted up. He got a twinge on Saturday in his hamstring. We feel we’re hoping he’ll be back available for Saturday against Whitehawk. He seems like in the last couple of days it’s heeled quite well so fingers crossed.”

Welling United: Bailey Vose, Callum Driver, Ben Jefford, Olumide Durojaiye, Magnus Okuonghae, Jamie Coyle, Ryan Hall (Christian Nanetti 79), Connor Dymond, Bradley Goldberg (Tom Bradbrook 83), Joe Healy, Jamie Philpot.
Subs: Archie Johnson, Ollie Milton, Adam Coombes

Booked: Connor Dymond 13, Olumide Okuonghae 59, Jamie Philpot 90

Hemel Hempstead Town: Laurie Walker, Joe Howe, Kyle Connolly, Matt Saunders (Sanchez Watt 69), Darren Ward, Ismail Yakubu (James Kaloczi 46), Spencer McCall, Jordan Parkes, David Mayo, Scott Schulton, Karl Oliyide (Michael Cain 83).
Subs: Alex Osborn, Danny Boness

Booked: Kyle Connolly 35, Jordan Parkes 39, Matt Saunders 43

Sent Off: Kyle Connolly 88

Attendance: 442
Referee: Mr Will Finnie (Luton, Bedfordshire)
Assistants: Mr Christopher Bodell (Enfield, Middlesex) & Mr Alex Rayment (Dunstable, Bedfordshire)

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