Welling United 1-1 Charlton Athletic - Now we want to go and win it, says Welling United joint-caretaker manager Harry Wheeler

Tuesday 28th March 2017
Welling United 1 – 1 Charlton Athletic
Location Park View Road, Welling, Kent DA16 1SY
Kickoff 28/03/2017 19:45

(Welling United win 2-0 on penalties)
Kent Reliance Senior Cup Semi-Final
Tuesday 28th March 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Park View Road

WELLING UNITED joint-caretaker manager Harry Wheeler has called for a neutral venue to stage the Kent Reliance Senior Cup Final against Dover Athletic.

The Wings booked their place in the Final after beating Charlton Athletic’s table-topping under 23 Development side 2-0 on penalties after the game finished all-square after 90 minutes at Park View Road.

Charlton Athletic, the Professional Development League Two South leaders, took the lead on the stroke of half-time thanks to a sublime volley from central midfielder Chris Millar.

But seventh-from-bottom Vanarama National League South side Welling United restored parity through Alex Cathline’s deflected drive, which was the striker’s first goal for the club.

Welling United goalkeeper Chris Lewington, 28, was outstanding during the 90 minutes and he excelled further during the penalty shoot-out making two saves as the Wings booked their place in the Final with a 2-0 victory after seven spot-kicks.

“Second half was pleasing, positive performance,” said Wheeler, who prevented Charlton Athletic reaching their third Final on the bounce.

“First half they were bright and we expected them to be. As a youth side they’re very bright, technically very good, had the majority of the game, scored a very good goal.

“Second half we just had to come out and react and put a little bit more pressure on them when in possession and hopefully it will come through. Luckily in the end the pressure told.”

Charlton Athletic manager Jason Euell said: “For us, our targets were to trying to win all of the competitions we were in and in the last three weeks we’ve ended up being out of two of the four.

“When it comes to penalties, I said to the boys after the game, it’s more of the luck of the draw really. You win it, you lose it, but I said to them overall over the 90 minutes I thought we played well enough to win it within the 90 minutes.

“It was just about how we played the game because it was a different opposition to what we’re used to playing. It’s about going from that development bubble, now playing against men in a competitive competition in terms of we have to do things differently.

“I think we were aggressive when we needed to be and it’s just one of those ones when we didn’t capitalise on our chances that we should’ve done during the game.

“I’m just trying to get them picked up. It’s been a defeat regardless of how it is. We set out for four trophies, now we’ve got two left. Make sure now we go and win those two trophies in the League and the national championships.”

A crowd of 337 were at Park View Road to watch these two neighbouring clubs and it was Welling United that created the first chance inside seven minutes.

Rhys Murrell-Williamson swung over a corner from the right and Ben Martin came up from the back to send his towering header sailing across goal and past the far post from 15-yards.

But Lewington was forced into making his first save in the 20th minute to prevent Charlton Athletic breaking the stalemate.

Striker Brandon Hanlan, who scored four goals whilst out on loan at Vanarama National League side Bromley, was put through the middle of the pitch but Lewington rushed off his line to smother the ball.

Euell confirmed that he will continue to use the loan system at neighbouring non-league clubs.

“We’re always open. I know Mark (Goldberg) well. I worked with him when he was at Bromley and always liaised with him in terms of players coming out on loan and that’s always something we’ve said, that’s something that we will do for Welling and Bromley and all the local clubs. It’s building that relationship. When we feel it’s right for the challenge and the opportunity for the boy to play first team football and we’re open to it and it’s always something that we’ve done in the past.”

“Chris was fantastic today, again, Chris was superb,” Wheeler said his heroic man-of-the-match goalkeeper.

“I’m not going by the penalties, Chris was superb all game. It’s pleasing when you’ve got a keeper that good one-on-one. Sometimes the game isn’t dead at that point and you’re not guaranteed to score. Again, he’s done his job and Chris does his job really well, week-in-week-out.”

Welling United created a couple of chances around the half-hour mark. 

Charlton Athletic’s central defender Anfemee Dijksteel pulled back Cathline on the very edge of the penalty area and Murrell-Williamson’s left-footed free-kick dipped just over the crossbar.

The strong presence of Cathline saw him hold of his man before rolling the ball inside to impressive winger Murrell-Williamson, who stroked his first time left-footed drive flashing just past the foot of the right-hand post from 25-yards.

Karlan Ahearne-Grant sped past Matt Fish down the left to whip in a cross, which was cleared out to George Lapslie, who drilled his shot towards the near corner, only to see Lewington tip the ball against the post in the 31st minute.

“Great save, fantastic save again,” added Wheeler.

“He gets down low Chris. He works on it all the time. He’s a professional in what he does. He coaches all day throughout the week and he’s very professional and it shows how he applies himself in games because his performances every week stays at a certain level and it’s very pleasing to have him in the side.”

Euell revealed he knows plenty about the Welling stopper.

He said: “He works at our community so he’s always up and down our car park and we see him and I said to him ‘oh, why today?’  He’s there to do a job for Welling on a day he could’ve been a different outcome for us.

“It could’ve been a different outcome for us. Like I said to the boys, it was a case yes, we were the better side for 90 minutes, but we have to go and be clinical and put the ball in the back of the net and Chris had a really good game.”

Welling United, too, were denied by some fine goalkeeping, when in the 39th minute the home side produced a fine move.

Danny Waldren played the ball out to Fish, who cut inside and fed quiet striker Pierre Joseph-Dubois, who cut the ball across the face of the penalty area where Waldren placed his right-footed shot towards goal from 10-yards, only for Dillon Phillips to dive smartly low to his right to push the ball towards safety.

It was a great chance for the former Bromley and Dulwich Hamlet midfielder, Welling United’s captain and leader.

Wheeler said: “I think if Danny puts any sort of height on it, it goes in, but a great save. The keeper has got to guess either way and he’s made a great reaction save but at the same time you look to Danny to finish in that position and Danny knows he should have but the build-up play was pleasing.”

Lewington pulled off another flying save when he dived to his left to push away Lapslie’s right-footed drive from 25-yards.

But Lewington was finally beaten when Charlton Athletic opened the scoring with 44 minutes and 5 seconds on the clock.

Hanlan turned Fish, cut inside and cracked an angled drive which was screaming towards the top far corner, only for Lewington to fly high to his left to push the ball away.   The ball came out to Millar, who chested the ball before cracking a brilliant right-footed volley into the bottom left-hand corner from 18-yards.

“It’s been long overdue for Chris,” admitted Euell.

“He’s had an up and down season and it was really for Chris to go and compose himself around men. He’s had a brief stint at Dulwich Hamlet and I knew he would be able to play at this level. This type of player it was good for him because he’s got that technical ability to get those type of strikes off. As soon as it left his chest, as soon as he got it up on the up, I knew it was going to be a sweet strike. Fortunately, enough it was as sweet a strike I knew it could’ve been.”

Wheeler added: “It’s a great finish! You can criticise every goal. Can we go and apply pressure to the lad? Maybe we should have someone on the edge there? The way they moved the ball was to move the two lads around. Maybe we could’ve gone and pressed him and you’ve got to give credit sometimes and it’s a great finish.”

Charlton Athletic’s first team manager Karl Robinson offered the club’s young guns some words of advice during the interval.

Euell said: “Even better for the boys is having the manager here and seeing them play and compete against men. That’s the level they’re at. 

“He came in at half-time and said he was proud of what he saw, what the boys were doing and just gave a few little pointers how we could be better.  I think we showed that in patches in the game.  They all know that if you do the right things nine times out of 10, 10 times out of 10, they can get an opportunity at our club.”

Wheeler added: “We just asked them to apply a little bit more pressure, be a little bit more aggressive in our press and all we asked them to do when we got it was be a little bit more direct. I wasn’t saying about going long, just being a little bit more direct because they looked vulnerable every time we got in behind.

“Sometimes, I thought, we played in the wrong areas first half so it was slight tactical adaption and I thought the lads on the pitch managed it really well as well and it’s pleasing all round.”

Charlton Athletic created the first chance of the second half and yet again Lewington was brilliant.

Hanlan sped towards the by-line, drove in a shot towards goal from a very tight angle, which was blocked by Lewington’s legs. The ball came out to holding midfielder Taylor Maloney, who sliced his volley wide from the edge of the box.

Welling United then went agonisingly close to equalising in the 50th minute.

Murrell-Williamson’s pace proved to be a threat to Charlton Athletic’s right-back Aaron Barnes and the Welling United winger found a pocket of space some 20-yards out to hit a low right-footed drive, which flashed across the keeper and agonisingly bounced against the foot of the far post but failed to roll over the goal-line inside the opening five minutes of the second half.

“Rhys has got a lot of ability,” said Wheeler.

“He can have games when he’s really on top and games where he disappears at times and he was really bright tonight.  I thought he caused them a lot of problems and they were scared of him at times.  A few end products could have been slightly better but overall Rhys has done really well tonight.”

Welling United got away with it in the 63rd minute when substitute Arel Amu stroked a ball forward for Cathline to chase. He clearly pushed Dijksteel in the back and managed to get a shot away towards the near post, which was blocked by Phillips at his near post.

“We seem to react quite well here during second halves most of the time at home recently,” highlighted Wheeler, who runs the team alongside Tristan Lewis.

“We try to raise our game second half. We’re confident here and I think it’s just applying that pressure and being relentless. The crowd are good as well, they draw them in.

“I think we got what we deserved at the end of the game and Alex was probably a bit of a foul but at the same time you take that.”

Phillips launched a big kick forward, a poor back-header from Martin put Ahearne-Grant through on goal and he made the angle too tight for himself as his powerful right-footed drive smacked Lewington high up on his chest to make another fine block.

Welling United grabbed an equaliser, with the clock showing 29 minutes and 25 seconds.

This is when right-winger Dan Walker burst into life and he delivered a low cross into the Charlton box and Cathline smacked a low right-footed drive, which deflected off Maloney and nestled inside the bottom right-hand corner.

“I don’t care how they go in,” said Wheeler.

“It was good build-up play. Dan Walker’s dangerous when he gets down that side. We’re not bothered how they go in, it’s a deflection and it’s gone in. I don’t know if it was going to go in before that but we’ll take it and it’s nice for Alex to get his first goal.”

Euell said: “I said that it’s how the ball bounces. We could’ve dealt with it better in terms of the switch out play from the free-kick and making sure that our distances were right and being ready for that opportunity.

“They had an opportunity when it hit the post and bounced across the line, which it worked for us at that moment but when the one coming off Taylor and going in, it happens.

“But I think what was the positive from our side of it was that we kept going. We kept going and we saw it through to the end.”

A poor clearance from Phillips should have been punished by Cathline, but he lacked composure and put his shot harmlessly wide of the right-hand post.

Charlton Athletic offered very little in the final third after Welling’s equaliser, other than Aherne-Grant’s angled drive from distance, which brought a comfortable save from Lewington at his near post.

Wheeler said: “We just changed the distances a little bit. We defended a little bit deeper.  We condensed the space between the keeper and the centre halves but overall I thought we kept them reasonably quiet.  We defended well when we were in one-v-one situations. I think it was pleasing all around, especially second half tonight was a pleasing performance.”

Welling United created the final chance of the game when Murrell-Williamson cut in from the left, played the ball inside to Waldren, who swept the ball out wide to Walker, who went on the outside of his marker and his low angled drive was gobbled up by Phillips at his near post.

With no extra-time in Kent Reliance Senior Cup ties, the game went to seven penalties in the shoot-out.

“Just to stay relaxed as possible.  We can’t affect massive things that are going on over the white line,” said Wheeler, when asked how you prepare for a shoot-out.

“We have a nice relaxed mentality but a focused one and I think it showed in our decision making when we did receive the ball under pressure.”

Charlton Athletic went first and Lapslie was concerned putting the ball on the spot, stepped back and saw his right-footed penalty saved by Lewington, diving to his left.

Welling United central midfielder Sam Hatton stepped up and his right-footed perfect penalty nestle into the bottom left-hand corner, despite Phillips diving the same away.

Lewington then dived low to his right to save Hanlan’s right-footed penalty.

Referee Daniel Bonnywell told Phillips to get back on his line, but the mind games failed to work for the Charlton keeper as he was well-beaten by Walker’s penalty, which nestled inside the bottom left-hand corner.

Charlton goalscorer Millar lost his composure by placing his right-footed penalty past the left-hand post, much to the delight of the home fans behind the goal.

With Welling United leading 2-0, right-back Fish stepped up and his right-footed penalty was saved by Phillips, low to his right.

And Welling United booked their place in the Final against Vanarama National League side Dover Athletic when Charlton Athletic substitute Louis Michael Yamfam skied his right-footed penalty over the bar.

Both managers were asked their thoughts on the penalty drama.

Euell said: “Regardless of a penalty shoot-out, if it’s at Kent Senior Cup level or a first team level in any competition, it’s still being able to deal with that little bit of pressure of putting the ball down and scoring from 12-yards.

“Before we went up, I just said to them look regardless of how many people are here, I said block all that out. In your walk-up you visualise where you want to go and don’t change your mind! Whatever the goalkeeper’s doing, he’s there to do that to put you off. Try to play the mind games. You visualise from your walk-up where you want to put that ball and it weren’t the place we wanted it to go so maybe that advice didn’t work. It’s an experience that they have to take on board moving forward.”

Wheeler said: “Fantastic saves, the first two. The second went wide and over but great saves again. Probably how good he was in the game that probably got on their nerves a little bit. I thought overall Chris was probably man-of-the-match tonight.”

Welling United have also defeated Chatham Town (6-1), Dartford (4-1 on penalties after a 2-2 draw) and Bromley (1-0) en-route to this season’s Kent Reliance Senior Cup Final.

Dover Athletic side lost 1-0 at Tranmere Rovers in the league tonight and are in the top eight in the Vanarama National League table.

Wheeler calls on the Kent Football Association to make it a game to remember for both clubs.

“Hopefully it’s a nice venue for the lads and they get to play somewhere decent,” said Wheeler.

“Dover are a good side as we know, they’re a good team. It will be a good game. 

“Now you’re at that level, in the earlier rounds sometimes it’s good to have a rest and the Kent Cup can sometimes be a hindrance.  Now we want to go and win it so we’ll go into the game believing we can go and win it. 

“We’ve beaten a team (Bromley) in their league already (twice) and we’ll go there fully believing we can go and do it again.

“No preference on the venue, a nice neutral venue. It’s nice to have a spectacle somewhere but there’s no sort of preference. We’ll see what we get given. You can only deal with what you get anyway.”

With Welling United looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone as they are only six points clear on 37 points with six games remaining, Euell relishes these competitive games against non-league clubs.

Euell said: “That’s the reason why we love entering it because they’re used to our development bubble but it’s coming out of that. Like I put to the boys, it’s the real world playing against men. That is the world you’re in now. 

“We like it because we get them exposed to that level of football. We play a few non-league teams in pre-season, that exposure of what the season is going to be about.

“We like to get ourselves in that competition for the reason of getting them first team exposure.”

When asked why Charlton Athletic are so successful at this age group, Euell replied he instils a winning mentality into his players.

“Because we make our games competitive and we make them in a position where we expect them to win games because that’s what’s needed at first team level,” he said.

“You get the too-ing and throwing of development or winning games and we do both because we want to win what we enter and development comes a part of that. We’re developing players to get better and how to win games of football so it works hand-in-hand but it’s something we do set-out to do. We try to win everything that we enter.

“We’ve still got the opportunity of two more trophies that we set-out. Even the under 18s sitting there are still on course for two more so I said there’s going to be some boys that will be finishing the season with four trophies and I said that’s still got to be the target for everyone in the changing room.

“The boys said it themselves. I said we entered four, we’ve got two left. What do we have to do now? They responded by saying we have to respond and go and win the league.”

Welling United: Chris Lewington, Matt Fish, Jordan Brown, Sam Hatton, Ben Martin, Phil Walsh, Dan Walker, Danny Waldren, Alex Cathline, Pierre Joseph-Dubois (Arel Amu 63), Rhys Murrell-Williamson.
Subs: Paul Agu, Lucas Hart, Tom Richards, Ali Fuseini

Goal: Alex Cathline 75

Booked:  Alex Cathline 79, Dan Walker 86

Charlton Athletic: Dillon Phillips, Aaron Barnes, Archie Edwards, Taylor Maloney, Anfemee Dijksteel, Dan Bowry, Matt Carter (Louis Michael Yamfam 81), George Lapslie, Karlan Ahearne-Grant, Brandon Hanlan, Chris Millar.
Subs: Jordan Beeney, Ramamo Simpson, Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, Alex Willis

Goal: Chris Millar 45

Booked: Anfemee Dijksteel 28, Dan Bowry 89, Taylor Maloney 90

Attendance: 337
Referee: Mr Daniel Bonnywell (Herne Bay)
Assistants: Mr Michael Marsh (Sandwich) & Mr Jack Owen (Sevenoaks)

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