Welling United 2-1 Leyton Orient - If you get to the Semi-Final you want to get to the Final, says Welling United boss Steve King

Tuesday 29th January 2019
Welling United 2 – 1 Leyton Orient
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 29/01/2019 19:45

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Tuesday 29 January 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

WELLING UNITED manager Steve King says he wants to get to the London Senior Cup Final after beating Leyton Orient.

The Wings will travel to Harrow Borough (presently in the top five in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier South Division table) in the Semi-Finals after Steve Baker’s side thrashed Clapton 7-0 at The Old Spotted Dog in Forest Gate tonight.

Leyton Orient – three points clear of Salford City at the top of the Vanarama National League table with 60 points from 31 games – fielded five players with first team experience with right-back Myles Judd, holding midfielder Alex Lawless, Dale Gorman, who played on the right-hand side of the midfield diamond and target-man James Alabi and James Brophy, who played at the top of the diamond getting a run-out.

Striker Jack Barham, 22, scored his first goal for Welling United during the first half, before his strike partner Danny Mills headed in his ninth goal of the season to double their lead with 16 minutes left.

Leyton Orient pulled a goal back through striker Ruel Sotiriou, 17, a second year scholar, with 10 minutes remaining.

“I think it was a well hard earned win,” said King, who conducted the interview inside his managers office on a bitterly cold sleety night at Park View Road.

“We had no choice to go strong because we’ve only got 15 players so (we had) four subs. We’ve got two injured so that’s our squad done so we had no choice to go strong so we did and it was a good win.

“We got minutes in the legs for Jordan (Gibbons), Julien (Anau), Mekhi (McCleod).  They’ve been out injured and Mekhi’s just joined us so we wanted to give him minutes and we got minutes in the legs so it was good.”

King made four changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Billericay Town at the weekend, which put them in sixth-place in the Vanarama National League South table.

Wingers Gavin McCallum and Mekhi McCleod came in, as did Barham and impressive holding midfielder Montel Agyemang.

Leyton Orient hit Welling United on the break and were to be denied by a decent save from goalkeeper Daniel Wilks after seven and a half minutes.

Gorman surged forward before putting striker Alabi through on goal through the heart of the pitch but Wilks rushed off his line and used his body to deny the former Dover Athletic man scoring from 16-yards.

King said:  “It was a great save early on and it turned out to be important as well.”

The O’s started the game on the front foot and Wilks danced to his right to catch Gorman’s right-footed free-kick from 25-yards, which went over the wall.

McCallum fed McCleod, who showed clever feet outside the box to fashion a chance for himself, which deflected just past the foot of the far post from 16-yards, which was somehow given as offside by Emmanuel Makola.

McCleod impressed down the left wing for the home side during the first half and he whipped in a cross, which was cleared out to David Ijaha, whose right-footed shot on the turn drifted past the far post from 25-yards.

“I felt first half Mekhi was an unbelievable threat,” said King.

“He went past the full-back time and time and time again and Judd is a first team player, he’s played a lot of first team games so for that at times in the first half he was unplayable.”

King revealed central midfielder Ijaha was forced off with a tight groin during the early stages of the second half.

Dominant Leyton Orient called Wilks into making another save in the 16th minute.

Welling United’s centre-half Anthony Acheampong trod on the ball just outside his own penalty area and lost possession to Alabi, who cut the ball back to Brendon Shabani, who put Sotiriou through on goal and his left-footed drive from the edge of the box bounced off the slick wet surface and forced the Welling keeper to make a low save to his right.

Leyton Orient continued to press and Sotiriou cut inside and slipped in Gorman, who got in behind Welling left-back Craig Braham-Barrett and his low cross-shot from 15-yards was gathered by Wilks, who got down low to his right to hold beside the post.

Welling United weathered the storm and called visiting keeper Janata into making a world-class save.

Mills released McCleod, who was in acres of space down the left. He cut towards the edge of the Leyton Orient penalty area and his drilled shot deflected off Mason Hall and keeper Janata dived to his right but used his legs to make the save as the ball was going in the other direction.

King said: “Mekhi was a threat in the first half, he was a threat going down the slope as well.  Second half he tired, he hasn’t played many 90 minutes lately.  We needed to change him because I felt we were getting outplayed down that side and he was leaving Craig Braham-Barrett all on his own so we had to change that, tweak it a little bit and put Brandan Kiernan out there, who had defensive responsibilities as well.”

Welling United went close again when Braham-Barrett pinged a delightful 60-yard diagonal pass out of defence out to winger McCallum, who controlled the ball with ease before whipping in a deep cross which found Thierry Audel, who hit a left-footed volley across the keeper and flashed just past the foot of the far post from 10-yards.

Welling United grabbed the lead with 25 minutes and 35 seconds on the clock.

Agyemang clipped the ball forward and Mills flicked header went out to Barham, who ran the left-channel, cut inside and onto his right-boot before placing his shot across the keeper to find the bottom far corner from 15-yards.

“Brilliant! Brilliant goal, brilliant goal,” said King, who praised the former Phoenix Sports and Greenwich Borough hit-man.

“The move and the finish was brilliant, fantastic finish.

“Jack’s a good, good player. I’ve liked him for a long time. I tried to get him three or four times. He went to higher levels (Barnet, National League) and we’ve managed to get him now until the end of the season so he’s going to be a real asset for us.

“He never gives up, he’s small but he’s good in the air and he can finish. He’s a handful as well because he never gives you a minutes rest.”

Agyemang curled a free-kick into the Leyton Orient box for centre-half Audel to glance his downward header into Arthur Janata’s hands, as the 18-year-old goalkeeper moved to his right.

The O’s lost centre-half Hall through injury, so Shabani slotted in beside George Forrest at the heart of their defence.

And The O’s were indebted to a goal-line clearance from left-back Jayden Sweeney, after keeper Janata came a long way out but failed to gather the ball but Mills couldn’t take advantage as he tried to slot the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.

Janata made amends, holding Ijaha’s left-footed angled drive from 30-yards a couple of minutes before half-time.

Welling United created the last chance of the first half when Braham-Barrett played the ball up to Mills, who flicked the ball on and McCleod whipped in a cross from the left for Barham to rise to send his looping header past the left-hand post from 12-yards.

At half-time, King said: “Just keep doing what they were doing, they’re doing really well but keep going. We knew they were going to come on strong last 15 minutes because they’re full-time and going down the slope and we just have to dig-in and dig-in.”

Leyton Orient started the second half on the front foot and created their first opening after only 19 seconds.

Sotiriou played the ball into Brophy’s feet and he teed up Gorman, who struck a first time low right-footed drive from 35-yards, which was held by Wilks, dropping down to his knees.

King said: “They’re a full-time team, they’re going down the slope and they started brightly but I felt our shape was good and they couldn’t go through the middle of us. They tried to go down the outside of us and I think that’s a sign of a team that don’t want to lose the game. I felt we really dug-in and put an extra shift in.”

Agyemang swung in a free-kick from the left touchline, which failed to beat the first man and he had a second bite of the cherry to whip in a better cross, which Barham flung himself to and glanced his header straight at Janata from eight-yards.

Leyton Orient substitute Bradley McClenaghan hit a deflected shot past the left-hand post with Wilks scrambling to his right after Gorman put in a low cross from the right.

Gorman and Judd linked up down the right and the ball was worked forward for Sotiriou, who drilled an angled drive screaming past the near post just before the hour-mark.

Leyton Orient were enjoying a good spell of possession and Alabi drove forward before playing a diagonal out to Gorman, whose right-footed angled drive from 25-yards was held by Wilks.

But Welling United were dangerous on the counter-attack and they should have doubled their lead halfway through the half.

Agyemang played the ball out to winger McCleod, who sped down the left, running 30-yards with the ball, before cutting the ball back from the by-line for Mills, who flicked his shot just past the foot of the near post from six-yards.

Sweeney played the ball inside to Gorman, who played the ball out wide and Leyton Orient right-back Judd cut in to scuff a poor shot straight into Wilks hands from outside the box.

Barham went on a lung-busting run down the left before wrapping his left-boot around the ball to whip in a great cross but Mills outjumped the Leyton Orient keeper and looped his header past the near post from six-yards.

But it was going to be third-time lucky for the former Dartford striker as he headed in Welling United’s second goal of the night, the goal timed at 28 minutes and 26 seconds on the clock.

Brilliant work and good feet from Agyemang down the left saw him produce a quality delivery, putting in a great cross for Mills to bury his downward header past Janata from eight-yards.

“I thought Mekhi done really well, considering he hasn’t played for about eight weeks,” said King.

“Great feet for the cross for the goal, brilliant! I thought he was very good today.

“Danny did well as well. He won a lot of his headers tonight and Jack was getting on the end of them. I was pleased with all of the boys today.

“Danny was knackered so we just took him off, precautionary. He’s played every minute of every game more or less and the body took a hammering in those conditions tonight so we’ve got him out of there, used the subs well enough.

“He’s scored nine goals but it could be more for me. I think he needs to score more. He should be well in to double figures by now.”

Leyton Orient pulled a goal back with 34 minutes and 44 seconds on the clock following a three-man move.

McClenaghan played the ball out wide to Brophy, who was left in acres of space down the left-channel and he whipped in a great low cross across the face of goal for Sotiriou to slide in to tap the ball over the line from four-yards.

“I was disappointed that we allowed them (to score).  It was a sloppy pass from the left-back Craig, it went straight to them and they switched it out and got in behind the back of us and scored,” said King.

“I just felt ‘oh no, we should’ve held out for 2-0’ and we didn’t and then it was hands to the pump for the last five minutes.”

Welling United missed a great chance when Agyemang swung in their third and final corner and Audel’s free downward header was grabbed hold off by Janata.

Welling United substitute winger Brendan Kiernan broke down the left and cut the ball back towards the near post for Barham, who nipped in front of George Forrest to stab the ball just past the near post from close range.

On a freezing cold night, the last thing the crowd of 186 wanted was extra-time and Leyton Orient almost snatched a last-gasp equaliser, after Sotiriou shot straight at Wilks after bursting into the penalty area.

Dulwich Hamlet host Brentford in the other London Senior Cup Semi-Final at Champion Hill on Tuesday 12 February and King is keen to get past Harrow Borough to reach the Final.

“Why not? If you get to the Semi-Finals you want to get to the Final don’t you so there’s no point being in it for the sake of being in it. Once we’re in it and we’ve got to this stage it’s important that we try to win the game,” said King.

“Harrow Borough are a good side. I know a lot of people over there. It will be tough. They’re having a good season. I think they’re in the top five in their league so it will be tough.”

Torquay United sit proudly at the top of the Vanarama National League South table with 57 points from 27 games.

The play-off places are presently occupied by Woking (53 points from 25 games); Bath City (51 points from 28 games); Chelmsford City (50 points from 28 games); Billericay Town (48 points from 28 games); Welling United (44 points from 27 games) and St Albans City (44 points from 28 games).

Eleventh-placed side Chippenham Town visit Park View Road on Saturday (15:00).

“Tough, really tough. They dig in and they work ever so hard. We beat them 4-1 at their place earlier on in the season (11 August) and they’re having a good run. If they manage to beat us they go level on points with us so it’s going to be a tough game,” warned King.

King is working with a threadbare squad due to budget cuts  made by chairman Mark Goldberg earlier in the month to balance the books and finishing in the play-offs comes all down to keeping men fit.

“We’ve had a few changes lately, which is a little bit upsetting but it is what it is, we have to get on with it. We’re working with what we’ve got,” said King.

“We’re short on bodies so if we get injuries that’s going to hinder us. If we stay fit we’ve got a great chance. If we don’t stay fit, it’s going to be difficult,” said King, who replied “no!” when asked whether he has the funds to bring in more players.

Welling United: Daniel Wilks, Jordan Gibbons, Craig Braham-Barrett, Montel Agyemang, Anthony Acheampong, Thierry Audel, Gavin McCallum, David Ijaha (Julien Anau 60), Danny Mills (Bradley Goldberg 77), Jack Barham, Mekhi McCleod (Brendan Kiernan 72).
Sub: Josh Hill

Goals:  Jack Barham 26, Danny Mills 74

Booked: Daniel Wilks 48

Leyton Orient: Arthur Janata, Myles Judd, Jayden Sweeney, Alex Lawless, Mason Hall (Bradley McClenaghan 35), George Forrest, Brendon Shabani, Dale Gorman, Ruel Sotiriou, James Alabi, James Brophy.
Subs: Reece Byrne, Lawrence Hammond, Tom Mulqueen

Goal: Ruel Sotiriou 80

Booked: George Forrest 53

Attendance: 186
Referee: Mr Michael Begley (Ealing, London W5)
Assistants: Mr Ross Mortimer (Sidcup) & Mr Emmanuel Makola