Welling Town 4-3 Erith & Belvedere - We'll do what it takes to get promoted, vows Welling Town boss Louis Dean

Wednesday 13th March 2019
Welling Town 4 – 3 Erith & Belvedere
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 13/03/2019 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Wednesday 13 March 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

WELLING TOWN manager Louis Dean says Erith & Belvedere are still in the driving seat in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division title race despite winning this seven-goal thriller.

The Boots remain at the top of the table with 62 points from 28 games and are nine points clear of second-placed Erith & Belvedere, who have four games in hand.

Owen Jones’ side were miles better than Welling Town during a dominant first half showing at Bayliss Avenue with electrifying quick left-winger Guyliano Tresor Mpungi and Chan Quan scoring.

Dean revealed during the post-match press conference that he tore into his side at the break as he attempted to raise spirits following on from Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at now third-placed side Bridon Ropes.

Erith & Belvedere arrived in Thamesmead on an impressive 17 match unbeaten run but they chocked during the second half.

Winger Jordan Samuel started the fightback by hooking in a volley, before striker Ryan Golding brought his side back from the dead with the equaliser.

Erith & Belvedere produced a slick move to seemingly win the game through holding midfielder Ramell Lake.

Erith & Belvedere failed to cope with two long throws into their penalty area which ensured Golding levelled things up by scoring his 27th goal of the season, before left-wing-back Mehmet Piro forced the ball over the line to keep the title race alive, especially as only one club are likely to be promoted going by the points-per-game statistics in Step Six League’s all over the country.

“Unbelievable second half really,” said Dean after winning his seventh game in 11 since taking over from Richard Dimmock at the end of November.

“Although we created a couple of good chances, we weren’t great. We didn’t work hard enough off the ball, second balls we wasn’t close enough and I did have a pop at them at half-time.

“I did have a go. I did say to them ‘you need to work harder, you’ve got to show more character, a bit more desire and I think the fact that we scored early (in the second half) really set the tone for the rest of the half.

“I thought we thoroughly deserved it on the second half showing.”

Welling Town’s holding midfielder Marlon Patterson hit a long ball over the top to release Harry Gamble hurtling down the left-channel but his low angled drive flashed across the keeper and past the far post inside the opening five minutes.

Mpungi’s pace was causing Jamie Taylor a major headache in the first half and it looked like the Erith & Belvedere winger was from a higher level but he lacked the same potency during the second half as Taylor wised up.

“We set up slightly different tonight in a sense we were trying to get the full-backs pushed a little higher,” explained Dean.

“Jamie hasn’t played a lot recently. He’s been quite ill and we’ve asked him to do a different role tonight and he had a bit of a torrid time in the first half but second half he grew into the game. Although Mpungi got in once, I think, off the top of my head, he read the game quite well and nullified him.”

Mpungi reached the by-line and his low cross was cleared out to Lake, who flashed his left-footed shot past the left-hand post from inside the D.

Erith & Belvedere were playing with a high pace and Welling Town struggled to cope with their first half battering.

It was no surprise when the visitors’ deservedly opened the scoring with 15 minutes and 42 seconds on the clock.

37-goal attacker Harry Harding released Mpungi down the left wing and he easily turned Taylor to reach the by-line. He cut along the by-line and from a very tight angle drilled a low right-footed shot across Jack Moore to find the bottom far corner from 12-yards.

“We won the ball back. It was a miss communication between Jordan (Samuel) and JT (Taylor) and one of them was going to clear it. It was like the Chuckle brothers – me to you – and they’ve nicked it in and manged to play it through and scored the goal.

“I wasn’t happy with those two and I’ve made my feelings known on the pitch and at half-time about it.”

Welling Town’s response was immediate and just 37 seconds later, Sam Bailey whipped in a great cross from the left for Golding to guide his free header across the keeper and past the far post from 10-yards.

Mpungi struck a first time right-footed rasping drive which stung Jack Moore’s fingers with an attempt from 22-yards in the 20th minute.

Both sides won six corners apiece and Welling Town went close with their first when Bailey swung in the ball from the right towards the far post for centre-half Dan Wells to rise to plant his downward header past the near post from eight-yards.

Central midfielder Grant Brown played the ball to Patterson, who swept the ball out to Taylor, who fed Samuel, who played in a low centre from the right and Golding swept a first time shot towards goal from 16-yards, which Daniel Teeley got down on to his knees to make a comfortable low save.

“It was a bit behind him really but he got it on target anyway but we didn’t have any runners running in to put a little bit of pressure on the keeper,” admitted Dean.

Erith & Belvedere were desperately unlucky not to increase their lead in the 32nd minute when Welling Town’s midfielders failed to press Lake, who drilled a left-footed shot pinging against the top of the left-hand post from 35-yards out, just right of centre, leaving Lake with his head in his hands in despair.

“It was a good strike to be fair. A little bit of curl on it that’s probably going in to the top corner. He’s probably hit it too sweetly. At that point we was only 1-0 down and lady luck was on our side,” admitted Dean.

Lake and Quan linked up in midfield before Mpungi found himself inside the Welling Town penalty area but his low right-footed shot was destined to flash just past the foot of the near post but Moore made sure it did by getting down beside his near post.

Welling Town also rued their miss-fortune when Piro delivered a deep cross aimed towards Gamble and Golding at the near post. Golding rose and his looping header from eight-yards kissed the top of the crossbar – with 44 minutes and 16 seconds on the clock.

“He got underneath it. It was looping behind. He beat the keeper to it and he got too much elevation on it and it hit the bar and didn’t drop in,” agonised the Boots manager.

Erith & Belvedere doubled their lead with one minute and 33 seconds into stoppage time after the home side switched off from the Deres’ fourth corner of the night.

Firstly, Moore should have gathered the ball on the by-line but allowed the ball to bounce behind for a corner.

Erith & Belvedere centre-half George Jones cut the resulting corner back to Lake, who whipped in a quality cross towards the far post and Quan rose at the far post in a crowded spot to bury his header past Moore from the corner of the six-yard box.

It was exactly what Welling Town deserved after failing to turn up for the first half.

“Jack Moore mentioned at half-time if he went for the ball or tried to kick it and the fella would’ve nicked it before him but the argument was he got in front of the defender and let it go off the pitch but that’s bye-de-bye.

“They’ve played it short and we didn’t shut the ball down quickly enough .We showed him inside on to his right-foot so he can deliver it into the back post and there was no one taking any responsibility into marking their men. That’s the reason the fella had a free header.”

Dean revealed: “I said to them at half-time they’re showing that they want it more than we do, hence the reason why we’ve gone in 2-0 down and we thoroughly deserved it!

“A few words were said. I haven’t had to do it often this season but I felt it was the right time to do it, obviously going in 2-0 down, which isn’t ideal.

“Two ways can happen, they can come out and just fold completely and they could go on and win two, three, four, five – or we could show a bit of character and desire and come out and go at them, which we did.”

Erith & Belvedere manager Owen Jones declined to comment on his side’s third league defeat of the season.

Dean’s inspirational half-time team-talk certainly had Welling Town up for it during the second half and they came out with plenty more desire than Jones’ men, who thought the game was won and they could be bitterly aguring amongst themselves inside the away dressing room at the end of the game.

Erith & Belvedere played with three central defenders in Tony Hill (right), George Jones (central) and Reece Barrett (left) and had two players sitting in front of them in Lake and Jerome Wade.

Harding played the ball into Lake inside the final third and Quan drilled his right-footed shot over the crossbar from 22-yards from a central position inside the opening three minutes of the second half.

But the Boot was on the other foot as Welling Town turned the game on its head.

Welling Town pulled a goal back with eight minutes and 43 seconds on the clock, following a well-worked set-piece.

Piro launched a long throw into the box from the left towards the near post, the ball was flicked on by centre-half Jason Mensah and sailed across the penalty area for Samuel to hook a stunning volley screaming over the keeper into the top far corner from 15-yards.

Dean said: “It gave us the platform to kick on really. If we didn’t have scored that goal early it could’ve been a bit of a struggle but it gave us a bit of confidence. It was a great strike. It could’ve gone over the bar, thankfully it goes in the top corner.”

Now with the momentum, Welling Town grabbed an equaliser just 109 seconds later.

Goalkeeper Moore launched a big kick straight down the middle of the pitch and Gamble flicked the ball on.  Hill looked favourite to clear his lines on the edge of his penalty box but Golding showed more desire and slid in and the ricochet from Hill’s clearance fell kindly for the stocky striker, who rolled the ball into an empty goal from 12-yards.

“Listen, he’s not one of the top goalscorers in this league for a reason! He’s just a pure poacher,” Dean said of Golding’s ability of getting teams out of a black hole.

“It looked like the ball was going away from him slightly. He’s (Hill) cleared it, it’s a bit of a ricochet and it’s hit Golding but right place at the right time. He’s shut him down and put the pressure on and got his body there. He got what he deserved out of it really in the sense of the desire to get on the end of it.”

Bailey swung in a corner from the right and Mensah found a pocket of space at the near post to plant his diving header over the crossbar from a tight angle.

Quan’s threat was evident at the other end of the pitch and the diminutive midfielder rose at the far post to plant his header over the crossbar from six-yards after Jones’ right-wing corner.

Quiet winger Kameiko Pope-Campbell – a recent signing from league rivals Forest Hill Park, who moved into the top eight with a 2-0 home win over basement side Meridian VP tonight -  took a whack from his marker as he sent Harding on his way down the right and he cut into the Welling penalty box and drilled his shot which was beaten away by Moore at his near post at head height.

Harding and Mpungi are too good to be playing in the tenth tier of English football.

Dean said: “It was a good save. He got across and got on to the front post and it was a good save.

“We had to keep an eye on Harry because he’s one of the good players in this division. I think he was a bit quiet tonight at times and we nullified him to little chances hear and there.  We had to drop in a little bit deeper where he couldn’t really affect it. It was a good strike and a good save from Jack.”

Erith & Belvedere produced a sublime goal to regain the power struggle with 25 minutes and 58 seconds on the clock.

Quan played the ball into Harding’s feet and his sublime flicked pass played in Lake on the outside and he stode forward before placing his low shot across Moore to sweetly nestle into the bottom far corner of the net.

Dean said:  “We made it easier for them in the sense that we didn’t close the ball properly and we were over-playing rather than just clearing our lines and we were quite wide open and JT got caught out as a right-back. He left a massive gap between him and Dan Wells hence the reason why the fella that scored managed to make a third-man run. 

“It was a good flick on and good finish to be fair to him, so we gave them a good opportunity there in that sense that we didn’t do our jobs properly and we should’ve got back to compact it.”

To their credit, Welling Town were not going to be knocked out by that knockout punch and jumped off the ropes and struck the woodwork just 46 seconds after going behind.

Patterson played the ball up to Gamble, who flicked his left-footed shot across Teeley, who grabbed hold of the ball after it kissed the outside of the top of the far post.

Dean said: “It was good little build-up. Marlon Patterson kicked it in and Harry’s got in between their centre-halves and he’s struck it nicely but he’s hit it with too much with the outside of his foot and it’s taken the ball away of the goal and it’s hit the inside of the post and it’s come back to Dan Teeley.

“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve rode our luck at times but we’ve also been more than unlucky especially in the last game.”

Step forward goal-machine Golding.

Welling Town grabbed an equaliser with 27 minutes and 36 seconds on the clock as Erith & Belvedere proved that they failed to cope with a long throw into their box.

Erith & Belvedere’s players were like statues when Piro threw the ball into the penalty area and Golding cut in and placed his shot across Teeley to find the bottom far corner from a tight angle.

“It was a bit of a weird one! Everyone seemed to have stood still and he was the only one that was alive to it. It was a strange one. It all went quiet and he’s gone thank you very much and slotted it in,” said Dean, who wants Golding to score more goals in the hunt for a triple promotion.

“I want more, we need more in terms of goals.  He worked his socks off tonight. That’s the hardest that he’s worked for us. We took him off at the end and he had nothing left to give and that’s what I want.

“I want people digging in and driving and working as hard as they can to get the results that we need!”

Welling Town clinched the victory with 31 minutes and 15 seconds on the clock, which was deservied on their second half performance.

This time Samuel hurled the ball into a crowded penalty area and there were many bodies in front of Piro and the goal-line but he managed to slam the ball through many legs into the back of the net from the edge of the six-yard box.

“Do you know what, Mehmet’s attitude has been absolutely superb since we’ve come in,” said Dean.

“He’s actually a centre-midfielder by trade. We’ve worked with him. He was playing there just before we came but we’ve worked with him and we’re trying to improve him and he’s come on leaps and bounds and he thoroughly deserved that goal just through his attitude and his commitment alone. I’m absolutely ecstatic for him.”

Quan looked capable of scoring for Erith & Belvedere and took a touch on the edge of the box before hitting a left-footed curler towards goal, which was plucked out of the air by Moore.

Harding had one final chance to restore parity at the death but his right-footed free-kick from 20-yards on the right dipped and narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Welling Town have six league games remaining, staring with a trip to eleventh-placed Snodland Town on Saturday, while Erith & Belvedere have 10 league games and two cup finals to slot in the final seven weeks of the season.

“Listen, Erith & Belvedere are still in the driving seat in a sense if they do win their games they do go above us but we’ve stopped them in their tracks now and their unbeaten run is now ended,” said Dean.

“We felt the pressure, 100% we felt it and they’ve got a lot of games coming up and a couple of cup finals so it’s going to be tough but if they win all of their games from now until the end of the season they absolutely deserve it.

“We’ve got to make sure we put in our second half performance tonight more consistently throughout the games so we don’t all get heart attacks and it’s going to be interesting and a tough run-in but as you can see in the second half we’re more than up for the challenge.”

On their trip to Snodland, Dean replied: “Ever since Kane Rice (and Simon Austin) have gone in there they’ve picked up loads of results and they’re a team on the up so it’s not going to be easy. 

“They’ve had a couple of good results against teams in and around us so we’re not going to take them lightly at all.”

But Dean knows finishing top of the tree on 27 April will guarantee promotion into the Premier Division.

“We want to go up as the winners. If we go on and win the rest of our games and that points average does go up and Erith & Belvedere and everybody else go on a late surge then as long as we’ve got that average up, worse case scenario we can go up in second-place but we’re not looking at that. We’re looking at we want to win this.

“The boys have been fantastic all season before we’ve come in they’ve been top, I think, since day one so it will be disappointing not to finish up there but we’ll do what it takes to get promoted.

“Personally it’s been challenging, it’s been enjoyable and I’m enjoying it.  Me and my management team are all volunteers, we don’t get paid. We all do it for the love of the game but we want to push this club on. We’ve got a good group of boys and we’re loving it really.

“I said to them at the end, I shouldn’t have to give that sort of team-talk for them to react and play the way they did in the second half. That’s what frustrates me at times.” 

Welling Town: Jack Moore, Jamie Taylor, Mehmet Piro, Marlon Patterson, Dan Wells, Jason Mensah, Jordan Samuel, Harry Gamble, Ryan Golding (Enoch Adjei 90), Grant Brown (Daryl Dylan 76), Sam Bailey.
Subs: Ricky Hepburn, Bryan Zepo, Marc Powell

Goals: Jordan Samuel 54, Ryan Golding 56, 73, Mehmet Piro 77

Booked: Harry Gamble 26

Erith & Belvedere: Daniel Teeley, Kameiko Pope-Campbell, Reece Barrett, Ramell Lake (Robert Curtis 81), Tony Hill, George Jones, Chan Quan (Bobby Holley 85), Jerome Wade, Jojo Oqunbiyi (Munyardzi Bruce Muchenje 69), Harry Harding, Guyliano Tresor Mpungi.
Subs: Connor Dobson, Romayle Wade

Goals: Guyliano Tresor Mpungi 16, Chan Quan 45, Remell Lake 71

Attendance: 153
Referee: Mr Michael Butcher (Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey)
Assistants: Mr Matt Williams (Strood) & Mr Chris Clarke (Aylesford)