Welling United 0-1 Whitehawk - We've put in an embarrassing display, admits Welling United assistant manager Harry Wheeler

Saturday 15th October 2016
Welling United 0 – 1 Whitehawk
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 15/10/2016 15:00

The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
Saturday 15th October 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

WELLING UNITED assistant manager Harry Wheeler says he is taking his players’ embarrassing performance during their FA Cup defeat personally.

Mark Goldberg’s side beat Whyteleafe (2-0) and Swindon Supermarine (7-1) to reach the final qualifying round, but it was their Vanarama National League South rivals Whitehawk that progressed through to the First Round after striker Reece Connolly scored his fifth goal of the season.

Goldberg took charge of Welling United two games left of their ill-fated Vanarama National League season and more repeats like today’s performance of failing to show heart and desire will send the club down to the Ryman Premier League as Richard Hill’s side became the seventh team to win at Park View Road this season.

Welling United went into the game fourth-from-bottom in the table with two wins and two draws from 13 games, while Whitehawk arrived at Park View Road in sixteenth-place with four wins and three draws from their 13 league outings and defeated East Thurrock United (3-2) and Merthyr Town (2-0) to get this far.

“You can’t start like that and then expect to win it, in such a tight game against a good side,” admitted Wheeler, who took part in the post-match press conference after Goldberg went to see his business partner in the executive lounge.

“It was a really poor start and to be fair we’ve started well recently, it’s later on in the game we’ve been losing matches. Today, we were the opposite.  We started poor, got what we deserved early on and then first half we were nowhere near good enough, nowhere near good enough in any way, not in terms of quality on the ball, effort could have been more, so at half-time that was the main question really. Questioning why and trying to rectify the second half.”

Whitehawk – who like Welling United reached the Second Round last season - won it with only three minutes and 21 seconds on the clock, courtesy of one long ball.

Michael West, who wore the number two shirt, yet played on the left-hand side of a four-man midfield, swept a long ball over the top of Rickie Hayles to put Connolly through on goal and he drilled his right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from a central position just a couple of yards inside the box.

“We always highlight reasons why, we need to be objective.  The keeper could have done better,” admitted Wheeler.

“The ball should have never bounced in our 18-yard box but saying that he’s been one of our best players for the majority of the season Chris, so unfortunately it’s a different person making a mistake today.

“The goal’s come wat too easy by the defenders and the keeper should deal with the ball as he did for the majority of the game afterwards and we would’ve gone in 0-0. It’s a really disappointing one.”

Welling United were awarded a free-kick 35-yards from goal when Danny Waldren was fouled by Ben Strevens and referee Elliott Kaye insisted Whitehawk left-back Dan Harding should change his red undershorts underneath his blue shorts.

Adam Coombes – scorer of six goals in Welling’s trouncing of Swindon Supermarine in the last round – blasted his free-kick into the wall, Strevens was penalised for handball and was booked.

Dean Morgan took the second free-kick, which was again blasted into the wall and Ali Fuseini’s shot from 25-yards sailed over the bar.

Fuseini won Welling another free-kick when he was fouled by Whitehawk’s resilient central defender Paul Reid, who led by captains example for keeping Welling United’s threat very minimal indeed.

Quiet winger Sam Hatton floated in a free-kick, which was knocked across the penalty area by Sean Francis for his central defensive partner Hayles to loop his header comfortably into Ross Flitney’s hands.

Whitehawk right-back Ahmed Abdulla hit a 60-yard diagonal ball over to West, who linked up with Stevens down the left and left-back Harding whipped in a cross where striker Wilfred Tagbo headed wide.

Welling United were to be denied an equaliser when the post saved Whitehawk in the 24th minute.

Coombes bull-dozed his way past a couple of markers down the left, cutting the ball inside for Fuseini, who unleashed a right-footed angled drive from 25-yards, which forced Former Eastleigh keeper Flitney to dive to his right to push the ball onto the post and behind for a corner.

“If it’s going your way, he probably tips it onto the post and hits him on his back and goes in, but when it’s not, it goes completely the other way,” said Wheeler, who admitted Fuseini and Danny Waldren lost the midfield battle.

“The two midfielders didn’t do themselves justice today. I think Danny and Ali Fuseini have been very good. I thought today they were very poor and the midfield battle is massive so that’s a really big part of it. 

“Ali’s chance was the only part he had in the game and unfortunately when it’s not going for you, it’s not going for you and it’s bounced out rather than bouncing in.”

Fuseini was not very pleased in the manner that Harding went down following his tackle and West floated in a free-kick towards the far post where Chris Lewington caught Stevens’ looping free header comfortably.

One angry Welling United fan behind the goal at the Danson Park end shouted out “f*****g raise it lads!” as Welling United put in a performance that was flat as a pancake without any heart and desire.

The home fans deserved better than the embarrassing first half performance from their side.

Wheeler, agreed, saying, “Questioned their effort first. Obviously highlighted the start. We didn’t really need to pick on the goal too much because Chris has walked straight in and put his hands up to apologise so we didn’t really need to go into that really.

“Really for the fans. We saw the turnout, we can see behind the goal and we’ve put a display like that – it’s embarrassing!  It was embarrassing for us because it's definitely not what we’ve asked for and what we’ve pushed for and it’s embarrassing as a club because we’ve not portraying the club what it should be so  that first half performance was never going to be acceptable and they were all held accountable and I think there was a reaction second half.”

Goldberg changed it at the break and the introduction of former Crawley Town’s Lyle Delle-Verde, 21, up front in a 4-3-3 formation lifted spirits and only he and Lewington can take credit in this poor Welling United display.

Whitehawk created the first chance of the second half inside four minutes when Tagbo played a low pass in from the left, Connolly got to the ball before Hayles once again, but Glen Southam’s left-footed drive flew over the crossbar.

Former Margate keeper Lewington, 28, kept Welling United in the game with a vital save in the 53rd minute.

Stevens threaded the ball down the heart of the pitch. Hayles slid in to try to win the ball off Tagbo, who used his strength to fight off the challenge, play the ball in behind for Connolly, who saw his shot blocked by Lewington’s left-leg.

“He’s good at them coming out one-v-one, Chris does it a few times,” added Wheeler.

“Chris has been very good this season so on the mistake, yes the mistake, he’s lost us the goal and the game but there were bigger pictures to it than that.  It was a great save and that’s what he can do.”

Welling United were to be denied by great goalkeeping from Flitney, who denied 16-goal striker Coombes.

Morgan threaded the ball in behind Reid and Abdulla to put Coombes through on goal.  He tried to slip the ball past Flitney to beat him at his near post, but the keeper got his fingertips to the ball and the keeper pounced on the loose ball as it bounced towards the goal-line.

“I’ve just spoken to Adam about that, he’s said, “I put it passed, I tried to put it down the side of him and it’s actually gone past his leg but then he’s got a little fingertip to it.’

“The way it’s been going for Adam, that normally goes in.  Everything he’s been touching has been going in to the goal so he expected it to go in and the lad somehow got a fingertip to it and then managed to claw it back so in the end it’s just a very good save.”

West and Connolly linked up down the right and Southam cut inside and curled his left-footed shot around the far post from the right-hand corner of the box.

Delle-Verde had something about him and he was Welling United’s biggest threat.

He broke down the right wing and once in the final third he cut the ball back to Fuseini, who hit his first time drive into the base of the side netting from 22-yards.

Wheeler said: “Lyle’s a very good player. He’s got a lot of potential, he’s only 21 still, he’s a very good player.  Normally he operates on the left or the right but we put him up top.

“We knew first half there was nothing going in behind and we weren’t stretching them. Both centre forwards (Coombes and Morgan) are very good but we were coming short and the service they were getting wasn’t great, so we wanted to keep them on and try to open it up a little way, so we had Lyle literally on to try to stretch them.  That worked. He started opening the game up.

“We lost Dan Walker on Wednesday (in our 7-2 win at Erith Town in the London Senior Cup) and Dan does that naturally and people are scared of him because of his pace and his athleticism so we were a little bit wounded from Wednesday in that way.”

Whitehawk were comfortable and they could have snatched a second with nine minutes left.

Harding reached the left channel and delivered a deep cross, which sailed over to unmarked substitute Lucas Santos-Rodriques, who slid in to hook his shot towards the near post, but Lewington spread himself and deflected the shot against the post.

“It was a great save.  Chris has done really well,” said Wheeler. 

“We rode our luck but I think second half I can’t see too many chances they had.  That was it!  The keeper done what he had to do and done his job so he’s rectified himself as he is.  The majority of the others did but we didn’t get the goal in the end.”

Welling United waited a long time to threw the kitchen sink at Whitehawk.  Fuseini dragged his right-footed shot harmlessly past the far post from distance, before their last chance came at the death.

Fuseini played a cross-field pass out to Waldren down the left channel and he had time and space to put over a cross but there was to be no late equaliser as Coombes sent his header over the crossbar from six-yards.

“You have to question how many times we looked like scoring. We huffed and puffed,” admitted Wheeler.

“Rickie’s coming in behind him and I just said to Rick ‘what do you think?’ and he said ‘it was coming straight to me so I was off balance but I think I could have dealt with it’.

“Rick was coming in behind him so it’s a bit of communication that was.  Adam’s desperate to score it to try to get us in and Rick’s flown in. It just hasn’t fallen for us.”

Welling United walked off the pitch to a chorus of frustration and booing from home fans and their players must do a lot of soul searching and improve when these two sides meet here in the Vanarama National League South next Saturday, otherwise continue playing this badly, Welling United could be playing Ryman Premier League football next August.

“Luckily, we’ve got to play them next week. There’s no better redemption than playing a team within seven days,” said Wheeler.

When asked about the reaction from home fans today, Wheeler replied: “Understandable. You never want the home fans without high standards and the standards haven’t been met.

“We didn’t get the result so now we have to start turning them into results. Next week is a massive game. We have to get redemption on these and start pushing in the league so next week the Cup’s out of the way so next week is a big, big game for us.”

Bishop’s Stortford, Weston-super-Mare, St Albans City, Chelmsford City, Hemel Hempstead, Maidenhead United and now Whitehawk have won at Park View Road this season, a venue that used to be a fortress for Welling at this level.

“It’s not promotion form at all, it’s just not good enough,” admitted Wheeler, who needs to realise where Welling United are in the table, fighting off relegation!

“Normally you win your games at home and you pick up points in odd wins away and that’s a title winning side so by losing seven games at home is not a title winning side.

“It is a different side now. Craig’s (Braham-Barratt) come in (on loan from Braintree Town) as well but it has to be changed and it has to be changed now and I don’t think saying ‘quickly’ is good enough! It has to be NOW! It needs to be two training session and Saturday we have to win the game.

“Whitehawk’s the best team to play after this week. Everyone’s disappointed in there and they showed their passion and how disappointed they are.

“You take it out on the opposite players on the opposite town because they’ve just knocked you out of the Cup.  They’ve knocked your exposure out of the Cup and the club’s exposure out of the Cup.  They’ve affected it financially so it’s personal so next week you take it personally and you make sure you win the game!”

Welling United: Chris Lewington, Matt Fish, Craig Braham-Barratt, Ali Fuseini, Sean Francis, Rickie Hayles, Sam Hatton (Archie Johnson 79), Danny Waldren, Dean Morgan (Mitchell Nelson 90), Adam Coombes, Jordan Brown (Lyle Delle-Verde 46).
Subs: Dean Leacock, Paul Agu

Booked: Adam Coombes 61

Whitehawk: Ross Flitney, Michael West, Dan Harding, Ben Strevens, Paul Reid, Chris M’Boungou, Ahmed Abdulla, Glen Southam, Wilfred Tagbo (Lucas Santos-Rodriques 76), Reece Connolly, Jack Masterton (Ramon Aldavert 87).
Subs: Adria Fernandez, Javier Favarel, Almpi Lengka, Sergio Torres, Marvin Hamilton

Goal: Reece Connolly 4

Booked: Ben Strevens 11, Dan Harding 86, Glen Southam 90

Attendance: 515
Referee: Mr Elliott Kaye (Loughton, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Tom Bishop (Clapham, London SW4) & Mr Michael Heavey
Fourth Official: Mr James Hurst (Peckham, London SE15)

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