Welling Town 2-1 Kent Football United - Every single game is going to be hard now, warns Welling Town boss Richard Dimmock

Wednesday 31st October 2018
Welling Town 2 – 1 Kent Football United
Location Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ
Kickoff 31/10/2018 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Wednesday 31 October 2018
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue

WELLING TOWN manager Richard Dimmock says his side’s form over the next two months will decide how far his club have come.

The Boots extended their lead at the top of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table to eight points after grabbing a 2-1 win over an impressive Kent Football United side.

Welling Town have now bagged 35 points from their 12 games, while Dartford based Kent Football United remain in the bottom three with eight points from 13 games.

Kent Football United put in a performance much better than their league position and they took the lead through a beautiful 35-yard strike from man-of-the-match Antonio Gonnella, 29.

Welling Town striker Ryan Golding rescued his side by scoring twice in 167 seconds after the hour mark to take his goalscoring tally up to 15 goals for the season.

“Well, tough one tonight. It was one of those games. We really dug in deep to get the three points,” said Dimmock, whose side are unbeaten in the league this season.

“We tried a new formation today, we tried the diamond.  I think in spells in the game it worked, some spells of the game it didn’t. Just off the ball it needed working on a little bit more. As soon as we lost the ball we were quite lazy getting back in to our own half.  Going forward, I didn’t think we had any problems.

“First half-hour we created so many chances. We had a good nine or 10 good opportunities, half-chances, full-chances. We take one of them or two of them, I think we could’ve come in at half-time four or five-one up.”

Kent Football United manager Ennio Gonnella felt his side lacked the killer touch in front of goal when it really mattered.

“I’ll tell you why (we’ve lost), we didn’t have the quality up top. When you’ve got a chance of an open goal when you’ve gone around the goalkeeper and you’ve still missed…It’s just not scoring, that’s what it was.

“Ryan Golding does it every time I’ve played against him. He just manages to find, he’s got that knack of scoring goals.”

Gonnella added: “We’ve had to rebuild this season. I’ve lost eight players in total and first of all I’d like to say a massive, massive thank you to these boys out here because they’re not playing for any money.

“There’s not the greatest of set-ups down there and still they’ve stayed loyal to me and that’s all I can ask for.  It’s a bit different when they’re here and giving me their all and taking the team at the top of the league, right to the last minute and some people were saying we were the better side and we’re the free-side out there so I was very proud of all of them.”

Welling Town created their first opening after only 14 seconds when a big kick from goalkeeper Jack Moore was flicked on by Arlie Desanges and Golding’s weak shot rolled into the hands of visiting keeper Marc Powell.

“A back-pass to the goalkeeper. That was one of the chances, after 14 seconds. First half-hour that was literally how the game was,” added Dimmock.

Welling Town played a diamond midfield and holding midfielder Peter Smith made a mistake and Ryan Atkinson latched onto the ball ran through the heart of the pitch before rolling the ball on his outside to big target man Mojeed Adisa to drag his shot past the far post when he only had the keeper to beat.

“Mo’s new to us, he’s only been here for a few games. He’s yet to get on the scoresheet for a league game and I thought that was it,” said Gonnella.

“In training, without any pressure, he’s put them in the back of the net and I thought that would’ve been a goal but sometimes pressure just gets to you.”

Winger Atkinson was a threat and he released Adisa down the left touchline and he skipped past Lemarl Hubbard and Chris Page before cutting inside and playing in a sublime through ball to put Atkinson through on goal but keeper Jack Moore stuck out his left leg to prevent the ball nestling into the bottom far corner.

Gonnella said: “It was a good save but if I’m honest with you, it was straight at him.  The shot could’ve come a bit earlier. He could’ve been a bit more inventive as well. He’s already committed him to the floor, he could’ve dinked it over but it was a phenomenal save after going down late.”

Dimmock said: “I remember that one. The ball’s coming from wide, deflected off one of our midfielders, straight over the head of Chris Page and they’re in and it was another great save by Jack.”

Welling Town took 12 minutes to create their first opening when Chris Mirrlees (who launched seven long throws into the Kent Football United box during the game) drove a free-kick into the edge of the penalty area but Desanges’ angled drive flashed across the keeper and past the far post from 20-yards.

Keiran Burrell and Peter Ojeman linked up well down the left and the away side moved the ball into the middle through Owen Price and Dane Moore, who cut the ball back to right-back Sesay, who released Atkinson down the line and he cut towards the edge of the box before drilling a shot into Moore’s hands.

Kent Football United deserved their lead when it came with 16 minutes and 9 seconds on the clock.

Left-back Ojeman played the ball down the line for Adisa, who played the ball into Burrell, who teed up Gonnella, who was given acres of space to take a touch before drilling a right-footed drive towards the top left-hand corner from 35-yards. The ball clipped the inside of the top of the post and nestled into the roof of the net.

“As soon as it got squared, I shouted ‘goal!’ before he even hit it. I’ve seen him do it so many times, I really have,” said Gonnella.

“He’s my brother and I’ve seen his career from Conference South (Fisher Athletic) all the way down to here now and if he gets a chance to shoot, nine times out of 10, it’s on target. It was very sweet going into the top corner.

“Antonio was my man-of-the-match by far. He was out wide on the left, wide right and he was playing number 10 so he’s got a lot of heart. 

“His best days are long behind him in terms of making a football career. At 17 he was at Fisher, so he started there under Gavin Rose. He done his MCL, had his operation and reconstruction and his never been right since.”

Dimmock added: “There’s not much I can say about them. That was an absolutely great strike. 

“At the time I thought it was against-the-run-of-play but they got that goal and they stepped up a couple of gears.  I thought them getting that goal, they got their confidence and they started having a go at us.”

Antonio Gonnella covered every blade of grass and took all of Kent Football United’s five corners.

He swung his first one in from the right but Adisa’s downward header was easily gathered by Moore.

Welling Town went close in the 21st minute when Dylan released right-back Leon Laungani, who reached the by-line and cut the ball back but Golding’s deflected drive looped just past the foot of the far post from 10-yards.

Momentum swung in Welling Town’s favour as soon as impressive winger Atkinson was withdrawn through an ankle injury in the 26th minute, which clearly disappointed the Kent Football United manager.

“He rolled his ankle, he’s got an re-occurring problem with his ankle. The slightest of roll and it just swells up and he couldn’t carry on. It was a big shame. He was very, very lively as well.

“They knew our dangerman, who was causing them a lot of problems, was off the pitch so it just gave them the confidence to go forwards.”

Dimmock admitted: “I think he was their outlet in the first half.  As soon as he went off they didn’t have an out ball so I think we got on top of them.”

Dylan and Mehmet Piro linked up down the left and Hubbard was given time and space to play the ball inside to Enoch Adjei – usually a winger, tonight playing on the right-hand side of the midfield diamond but more infield than out on the line – and he drove into the penalty box before flashing his shot across the diving keeper and his outstretched right-hand and just past the foot of the far post.

Welling Town cranked up their pressure and on the half-hour-mark Smith turned Moore in midfield and played the ball out wide to Piro, who whipped in a cross for Dylan to flick his shot across the keeper and just past the foot of the far post.

Gonnella set-up a chance for Adisa – who was much better in the first half than the second – but his left-footed shot from 22-yards was weak and Moore picked up the rolling ball.

A poor defensive clearance from centre-half Cameron Lovatt was picked up by Adjei in midfield and he drove towards the edge of the penalty area before chipping the ball over the keepers head and also the top of the far post.

“Chance after chance after chance.  Like I said to them at half-time, you’ve got to start taking your chances! If you don’t take your chances, they’ll come back and bite you on your bum,” said Dimmock.

Kent Football United broke away after a block challenge by Deen in his own half, which Burrell played the ball inside and substitute Luke Markey cut the ball onto his left-foot before drilling his shot towards goal from 25-yards, which was beaten away by Moore.

Welling Town goalkeeper Moore pulled off a world-class save to prevent Kent Football United scoring their second goal in the 44th minute.

Burrell’s deep cross was headed out by Page from inside his penalty area and the ball dropped to Gonnella, who smashed his right-footed volley towards the bottom far corner from 18-yards. The ball was destined for the bottom corner but Moore got down low to his left and quick to smother the ball within his grasp.

Gonnella said: “What a save! What a save! I actually clapped him as well, the goalkeeper, what an immense save!

“I was right behind it as well. It was heading, it was destined for that bottom corner and somehow, he got it, an unbelievable save, it was brilliant!”

Dimmock said: “Great save that was! It took a slight deflection and I thought it was in personally. Just go-go-gadget, he came out from nowhere and it was a great save by Jack.

“He’s been struggling for the last couple of weeks. He’s got a slight injury on his hip. He’s had a rest for a week. I was going to rest him tonight but he said he was fine so he’s got until Saturday to have a rest, go and see the physio tomorrow and be ready for Saturday.”

Welling Town created the final chance of the first half when Page came up from the back to loop his far post header over the crossbar after his central-defensive partner Mirrlees floated a free-kick into the penalty area.

Dimmock said: “I just said to them, going forward, I’ve got no issues. I just think we’ve got to start taking our chances, especially when our full-backs get forward. We weren’t getting the ball in the box enough.  I just said to the full-backs, as soon as we get it out side, just get it into the box and the other thing I said when we haven’t got the ball, we needed to work harder off the ball.”

Kent Football United manager Gonnella said: “I said to them at half-time, they’re not going to roll over, even though we’re in the lead. They’re going to be embarrassed, they’re top of the league and paying a lot of money out and they’re going to try to come back into the game – and that’s what they did!

“I knew they weren’t satisfied with their first half performance. I think we were very, very slow starting in the second half, saying that the chances that we had!”

Kent Football United missed a glorious chance to deservedly win the game inside the opening six minutes of the second half.

Gonnella played a sublime through ball in behind Piro and Mirrlees to put substitute Markey through on goal.  He skipped past the advancing Moore and all he had to do was put his right-boot through the ball to find the bottom near corner.

However, Markey rolled a weak shot towards the target but Mirrlees showed tremendous desire to race back and slid in to ensure the trickling ball would not cross over the line.

Gonnella said: “I think he just thought it was a goal. He done the hard bit and thought he’d tap it in but I’ve got to say what great defending! That was because other people would’ve stopped as soon as he ran around the keeper. Full credit to the defender getting back on the line.  He didn’t look over his shoulder to his left and didn’t see the player coming. He just thought it was an empty net and he’ll tap it in and that’s exactly what happened. He tapped and great defending through, absolutely great defending.”

But Dimmock was full of praise for Mirrlees for the match saving clearance.

“I saw his run all of the way. I thought we were quite lazy on that one. We just all stood and watch the guy run through us.” 

A poor clearance from keeper Moore presented Gonnella with another chance to kill the game off but he lacked composure and shot wide of an open goal from 35-yards.

“He had a lot more time than he thought,” admitted the Kent Football United manager.

“I thought he was trying to rush, he knew the goalie was off his line. He’s tried to rush it. He’s done it with the outside of his foot. It’s a bit wet, it spun out and he’ll see that back (on the video) and if he could’ve had a bit of composure to put it in and that’s all what was missing there.”

Dimmock said: “It’s a mistake from Jack, that’s just one of those things. He’s miss-kicked it and it’s got to be one hell of a strike from there.”

Kent Football United were made to pay for those two misses as Golding notched an equaliser with 14 minutes and 45 seconds on the clock.

Not for the first time Welling Town went direct. Hubbard played a long ball ball from the halfway line over the top of the defence and Golding brought the ball down under his spell, cut inside and onto his left foot and rifled his shot into the roof of the net from 12-yards.

“He didn’t have much fed into him in the first half but the first ball into the forward feet, he brings it down, turns the defender and slots it home. He does what he’s good at,” Dimmock said of Golding.

Gonnella added: “Ryan’s a good player, he’s every manager’s striker. When you’re playing football on the floor, or if you’re going in behind, he always manages to find himself on the scoresheet so he’s every managers dream to have.”

Welling Town scored the winning goal with 17 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Mirrlees launched a deep free-kick towards the far side of the penalty area, which was knocked back across goal by Desanges. Keeper Powell failed to gather a bouncing ball and Golding couldn’t really miss from a couple of yards out, guiding the ball over the line and into the bottom left-hand corner.

“I thought Ryan and Arlie worked quite well together. I was a bit worried at first but they worked well tonight as a pair,” said Dimmock.

“You could see towards the end of the first half a couple of moves between the pair of them. A great little pairing, I hope it continues.

“What you get from Ryan Golding, he’ll work his socks off. A lot of people told me he won’t do the doggy work and he’ll score you goals.  Since I’ve brought him to the club he’ll still score you the goals but he does the doggy work and he works his socks off.

“You look at him, a lot of people think his overweight and he can’t do this and he can’t do that.  In my eyes, like when I was playing, he’s a solid unit, like myself and he brushes defenders aside. He uses his body very well to turn defenders and he’s got that little bit of speed over the first 10 yards. He just takes the ball away from the centre-half, bang. Nothing else to think about, it’s in the back of the net!”

Gonnella said: “I question my goalkeeper whether he could’ve actually come out for that but he’s a top goalscorer so we expected that.

“Ryan Golding taps home, he likes that six-yard box. He seems to find a lot of it.  I said to them at half-time he’s never going to pull a worldie out, it’s very rare. However, he’ll find space in that six-yard box and if there’s a chance he’ll sniff it and that’s exactly what he did. I do question my goalkeeper whether he could’ve come out and got it.”

Highly-rated Welling Town keeper Moore was called into action inside the final 13 minutes when he beat away Burrell’s first time drive from 25-yards, which was sailing towards the top far corner after Page failed to get his head onto Sesay’s swept ball forward into the penalty area.

Welling Town went route one again when Moore launched a big kick upfield, Desanges flicked the ball on and Golding swept his shot on the turn past the post from 18-yards.

Kent Football United should have won this game but they wasted a great chance to come away with a point in the final minute.

Referee Ashley Barnes awarded the visitors a free-kick just to the left of the D and Gonnella stroked the ball over the wall but it was hit straight at Moore, whose fingers were initially stung before he gathered the bouncing ball at the second attempt.

“He’ll be disappointed with that because that’s his range. Nine times out of 10 that’s going in the net but he didn’t get enough bend on it and it went straight to the goalkeeper but it’s another chance gone wasted,” admitted his brother.

“Just straight at Jack. He got it up and over the wall. Either side of Jack I think it would’ve gone in but it was straight at him,” added Dimmock.

Both goalkeepers suffered knocks during the game and were both treated by their physios.

On Powell, Gonnella revealed: “He pulled his thigh from a kick so he’s continued for the last 15-20 minutes with an injured leg, so credit to him.”

Powell made a great save at the end of the game, palming the ball away high to his left to prevent Desanges scoring after Golding chested Moore’s big kick up field and Dominic Elmes also got involved in the action in and around the penalty area.

“Great save from the keeper and he was struggling with an injury as well,” added Dimmock.

“I thought Arlie deserved a goal. His holding up play was good tonight, his play with Golding was superb.”

Gonnella said: “Even with an injured leg he still put the team first and he managed to save it. Even if that went in, a loss is a loss, whether it’s two or three, it doesn’t really matter to me, a loss is a loss, but it was a very good save from Marc.”

Welling Town travel to second-place Holmesdale on Saturday and Dimmock knows his side are entering the horrible part of the football season.

“Massive game, massive game. We’ve got to go there and be better than what we was tonight, definitely,” he said.

“But if we go there and work hard and the players do what we want them to do, I can’t see why we can’t go there and get three points.

“I just said to the boys it’s a hard grind three points here tonight and they can expect a harder game on Saturday because every single game is going to be hard now. Every single game is going to be a cup final. That’s how we have to take each game.

“The next two months will decide how far we’ve come as a club because this is the real winter nights, the real winter Saturday’s cold, wet, where we’ve got to dig results out, work hard for each other.  I used to love it as a player at this time of the year. This will depend now, the run-up to Christmas, how far we’ve really come as a squad.”

Kent Football United, meanwhile, host bottom-five side Lydd Town on Saturday.

Liam Smith’s side have collected 11 points from 13 games and Gonnella sees this as a must-win game.

“We haven’t got a great home record. My boys like to get it down and play,” said Gonnella.

“The chairman won’t mind me saying it’s not the best of surfaces so we have to adapt our game a little bit at home.  They’re not a team that goes route one and as you saw tonight they like nice pitches.

“Lydd are in and around us and it’s a game we need to win.”

Welling Town: Jack Moore, Leon Laungani (Raheem Chentouf 54), Mehmet Piro, Peter Smith (Ricky Hepburn 67), Chris Mirrlees, Chris Page, Lemarl Hubbard, Enoch Adjei, Ryan Golding, Arlie Desanges, Daryl Dylan (Dominic Elmes 77).
Subs: Ricky Hardie, Tyrus Gordon-Young

Goals: Ryan Golding 60, 63

Kent Football United: Marc Powell, Alimm Sesay, Peter Ojeman (Ijah Currie-Wilson 64), Owen Price, Ahmed Deen, Cameron Lovatt, Keiran Burrell (Brandan Charef 90), Dane Moore, Mojeed Adisa, Antonio Gonnella, Ryan Atkinson (Luke Markey 26).
Sub: Jamie Pearson

Goal: Antonio Gonnella 17

Booked: Antonio Gonnella 62, Dane Moore 85

Attendance: 93
Referee: Mr Ashley Barnes (Bromley)
Assistants: Mr John Baigan (East Dulwich, London SE15) & Mr Benjamin Perryman (Grove Park, London SE12)