Wings shine through - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Sunday 15th January 2006
A welcomed return to their normal training headquarters in Thamesmead was one of the reasons that helped Welling United reach the last sixteen of the FA Trophy yesterday, writes Stephen McCartney.

Welling opened the scoring at Croft Park after the half-hour mark when midfielder Jamie Day hit a ferocious 25-yard volley straight into the bottom corner.

They doubled their lead just before the break when Danny Kedwell headed home Adrian Clarke’s near post corner.

Rob Owen then made it 3-0 just after the re-start, slotting home past Blyth Spartans goalkeeper Craig Turns.

Steve Perkins, however, was stretchered off with a knee injury, which resulted in manager Adrian Pennock coming off the substitutes bench in their 3-1 win.

The former Gillingham star, however, admitted he was very pleased that his side progressed into the last sixteen, and will be hoping for a home draw when it’s made tomorrow lunchtime.

Pennock’s side are the sole representatives left in the competition from Kent as full-time Nationwide Conference outfit Gravesend & Northfleet were knocked out by Southern League Division One side Boreham Wood. 

Leading goalscorer Charlie MacDonald netted for the Kent side after 68 minutes although Liam Daish’s side were already 3-0 down at the time.

Pennock said: “Very pleased.  It was a very good performance.  It was a very difficult place to go to and honestly the conditions – the pitch wasn’t very good, heavy and poor but we’re more than worthy of our win.”

Pennock was forced to name himself on the substitutes bench, especially with Lee Gledhill (ill) and Barry Ashby (calf) unavailable.

And he was pleased he got through the game unscathed.  “I felt good because we played well,” he said.  “Obviously the result was massively important for us.  It was more a case of organising people on the pitch.  There was no way I was going to do any overlapping!”

A place in the last sixteen of the FA Trophy, a trip to Huddersfield Town in the first round of the FA Cup and with his side in the top seven of the Nationwide Conference South table (with games in hand) has been “an excellent season so far” for the Park View Road club, according to their manager.

Welling are on their travels again – this time by coach rather than aeroplane – when they make the long trek to Newport County on Wednesday night.

”We’ve obviously done a lot of miles,” he admitted.  “It’s another difficult place to go to, very open pitch, very heavy and they had a good 3-0 home win over Maidenhead on Saturday.

”If we conduct ourselves like we did Saturday, I am positive we can get a decent result.”

Former Margate player Adrian Clarke will have another injection prior to the game to play despite his troublesome groin injury and it is hoped Gledhill will be available following illness.  Steve Perkins, meanwhile, who Pennock replaced yesterday, is ruled-out.

Welling return home next Saturday when Weston-super-Mare, a side in the bottom seven, are the visitors to Park View Road.

”That’s going to be a difficult game,” Pennock insisted  “They work hard for each other, they’ve had some good and bad results this season but after Saturday’s result that will give us a lot more confidence for the rest of the season.”

Returning to their floodlit Astroturf training facility has made the difference to Pennock and his team.

He said: “One of the biggest reasons we played so well on Saturday was we’re back at our training ground.

”We’ve missed it since the Huddersfield game because they had to repair the lights.

”We went back there for the first time last Monday.  It’s an excellent full-sized Astroturf pitch and we can work on a lot of things.”

Newport County v Welling United
Nationwide Conference South
Wednesday 18th January 2006
Kick Off 7:45pm