Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Welling United

Fradley (69) (penalty), Jones (90)


Hednesford Town

Simkin (19), Francis (37)

(0) 2

(2) 2




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Stuart Ryder



Chippenham Town (H) 24.2.03

The Pitmen ended their losing run on the road with a high-scoring encounter at Park View Road - but threw away all three points after having a two-goal lead with only twenty-one minutes remaining and conceding a late, late goal to Welling substitute Paul Jones


Last week's tame defeat to Tiverton Town had seen the Pitmen lose their unbeaten home record, leaving the under-pressure Ian Painter to provide a response against a mid-table Welling side they beat with ease last month at Keys Park. Painter made three changes to the side that had started against Tiverton, with Chris Brindley, Derek Rae and David Berks all returning to the starting line up at the expense of Graham Lancashire, Stewart Airdrie and Anthony Maguire


Welling had seen their league game against Cambridge City postponed in midweek due to a waterlogged pitch, leaving the Wings in twelfth place in the table going into today's game - only three points behind their opponents. Manager Bill Williams brought in Dave Powell up front in place of veteran striker Gary Abbott, who was dropped to the bench in the one change to the side that had lost at Kent rivals Dover Athletic last weekend


The changes to the Hednesford side looked justified in the early stages as the away side started well and on the front foot. Kevin Francis and Steve Piearce linked up well on eight minutes, as Francis's knock-down was volleyed just wide by Piearce from fourteen yards out, slightly off balance


Three minutes later, a free-kick from Derek Rae saw Welling keeper Glenn Knight flap at the cross, although he seemed to do enough to put off Stuart Ryder at the far post as the defender missed the ball with his head


David Berks showed his skill down the left wing on fourteen minutes, making a mazy run past two challenges before sending over a deep cross that was inches away from the head of the incoming Francis at the far post


Piearce tested Knight two minutes later, firing a low shot goalwards but seeing Knight make a fine save down to his right to turn the striker's shot around the post for a Hednesford corner kick


The Pitmen's early dominance of the game finally paid off on nineteen minutes, as they took a deserved lead through a rare goal from Darren Simkin; Rae fed Ashley Williams down the right wing, with the full-back sending over a superb out-swinging cross that Simkin powerfully headed past Knight from ten yards out


Welling's responses came from long-range, with Michael Bingham easily fielding an optimistic effort from Anthony Riviere on twenty-one minutes and watched a wild effort from Kevin Seabury three minutes later well over his crossbar


Berks was having a fine game - his best for the club since arriving from Stafford Rangers last month - and created a half-chance for Francis on twenty-nine minutes as he clipped a clever through ball past Tim O'Shea and into the path of Francis, who got goal side of the Welling defence briefly but lacked pace as he allowed John Farley to steal the ball off him before he could shoot


Francis did get on the scoresheet for the away side a few minutes later, as Hednesford grabbed their second goal on thirty-seven minutes. Wayne Simpson found Piearce, whose first-time shot was well saved by Knight. However, his great save fell kindly at the feet of Francis, who had followed the ball in and tapped home from close range for his eighth goal of the season


There was still time for skipper Brindley to go close to adding a third for the Pitmen on forty-three minutes, heading into the side-netting after a typically powerful run to the far post to head a Berks cross back across goal


Having had the better of the first half, the Pitmen could be delighted with their commanding lead at the break, but then undid all of their hard work during the second period as they allowed Welling back into the game as the Wings took ownership of the second period


 Jones - on as a half time substitute for Welling - was to cause the Pitmen all sorts of issues with his intelligent running with and without the ball. Jones supplied Powell with a fine through ball on fifty-three minutes, only for Stuart Ryder to snuff out the danger with a fine block tackle on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area


Jones himself was next to try his luck for the home side five minutes later, drifting past Rae and unleashing a long-range effort that Bingham did well to beat away with both hands


Paul Booth and Seabury did well to open up the Hednesford back line on the hour mark, playing a quick one-two on the corner of the box before Seabury's cross was headed wide by Powell at the far post


You felt that a goal was coming for the hosts, although it was the Pitmen who gifted their opponents a way back into the game on sixty-nine minutes as Brindley made a rare error of judgement in bringing the flying Jones down inside the Hednesford penalty area. Farley stepped up to send Bingham the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick to bring Welling back into contention


 The home side sensed an equaliser and peppered the Hednesford goal with attempts as the game entered the final fifteen minutes; Bingham made a good stop with his leg to divert Powell's cross-cum-shot away from goal, followed two minutes later by denying Ray Aboagye a goal with his first touch of the ball after coming on for Powell


Riveire was denied by Bingham a minute later, with the Hednesford stopper making a quite breathtaking save from point-blank range to turn the midfielder's shot away from a certain goal


The under-pressure Pitmen made their first substitution of the game with eleven minutes remaining, with Painter making a like-for-like swap up front with Graham Lancashire coming on for Francis. A bizarre decision in hindsight as many felt that the Hednesford manager needed to stem the tide of Welling chances with a more defensive tactical shift


Welling continued to create chances in the final minutes, as the Pitmen dropped deeper and deeper into their own half and invited the hosts onto them. A petulant challenge from Simkin incurred the wrath of the referee on eighty-five minutes, earning the defender a yellow card and handing the Wings a free-kick in dangerous territory. Riviere's well-hit effort scraped a layer of paint off the top of Bingham's crossbar as Welling laid siege to the Hednesford goal


A rare break by the Pitmen saw them counter in numbers on eighty-eight minutes, culminating in Lancashire firing into the side netting from a tight angle after being played in down the Welling left by Berks


With the game heading into added time, Welling got their breakthrough and ended the Pitmen's resistance; Jones got on the end of a Steve Sodje cross to bundle the ball past Bingham from close-range, despite Ryder's best efforts to keep the ball out and send the home crowd into raptures


A sickening way to end the game for the Pitmen, who had looked like they had just done enough to hang on to their slim lead for the whole second half, only to switch off at the very last moment. It's a long way home for the Pitmen with only a point to show for it when three points were in the bag for much of the game. They return to Keys Park on Monday night to face high-flying Chippenham Town looking to return to winning ways on their own patch 


Welling United: Knight, Burgess, Farley, O'Shea, Hone, Edwards (Sodje 58), Riviere, Watts (Jones 45), Booth, Powell (Aboagye 74), Seabury ©     Subs Unused: Abbott, Standen


Hednesford Town: Bingham, Williams, Small, Simkin, Brindley ©, Ryder, Rae, Simpson, Francis (Lancashire 79), Piearce (Jones 88), Berks     Subs Unused: Airdrie, Maguire, Jenkins