The Welling United Fanzine
Friday 22 March
On the PitchFixture List
Park View Road
Neil Smith shuffled the starting line-up yet again, with Keevil restored to centre midfield alongside Maxwell and Carpenter, Mucu starting on the right and Blackman on the left, and Coleman in a lone role up front ahead of the five-man midfield.
The travelling support began in fine voice but were soon silenced when the ref awarded a penalty in the third minute – apparently for a reputed kick-out at an opponent by Leon Solomon. Ex-Wing Paul Booth stepped up and showed us no compassion by despatching his shot to the keeper’s left side; for a split second it looked like Masters would get his hands to it but it was not to be and Welling were 1-0 down.
The visitors soon recovered their composure and were matching the hosts in most of the play, just falling short in their placement of passes. Omari was put through and cut in on the right side of the box, but yet again waited to transfer the ball to his left foot when a right-foot shot would have posed a real threat. This was followed by a Wings free kick out to Blackman on the left; his strong header travelled across to the right side of the box where Mucu pulled it back well into the centre but there was no Welling striker there to capitalise.
The Rooks were attacking in turn without really creating chances at the other end, and the visiting defence seemed to be coping comfortably. Unfortunately, the ref was not coping as well, and, despite hailing from Kent, seemed intent on giving decisions biased towards the home team, like the goal kick awarded when it was clearly a corner to the Wings. Approaching the half hour mark, Omari was fouled on the edge of the Lewes box, and the ref did at least book Simpemba for his efforts; however he then proceeded to clearly allow the Rooks wall to position themselves a pace and a half inside the required 10 yards, and the free kick was duly blocked.
A Lewes attack down their right flank seemed to catch the otherwise impressive Ryan unawares as the winger cut inside him only to see his angled shot saved by Masters. The half ended with Coleman chasing a ball in from the left and hitting a shot which was blocked; Chippy latched onto the rebound but put his shot wide. The half time talk appeared to be crying out for Smudger to get his team to pump fewer high balls forward – these had been easy meat for the two home central defenders – and maybe to replace the ineffective Blackman on the left and inspire Keevil to get forward more from midfield to support Coleman.
The home side made a change at half time, bringing on one Lewis Hamilton – no doubt preparing a back-up career for himself should his Grand Prix career disappear up the F1 exhaust pipe this Thursday at the Ferrari Witch Hunt FIA hearing. As we moved into the second half, the same Wings 11 took to the pitch and continued to play in largely the same way, except that they were now obviously hassling more and giving Lewes less time to play. A good tackle by the excellent Chris Moore was followed by some less elegant play, which then developed into a minor scuffle involving a number of players, with the outcome being a booking for Coleman. The free kick was deflected off the Wings wall but safely gathered by Clark Masters.
An infringement on the right touchline gave Welling a free kick, with Lewes picking up a booking, before Coleman was judged to have dived under a Lewes challenge at the other end. Lewes replaced Watts with Drury a little after the hour mark, and went on to force a corner. Much ping-pong in the area resulted in a long range shot going wide of the Welling goal. The next home attack was a cross from the right which eluded the Wings defence, but a strike that could have been dangerous was mis-kicked and went for a corner. The corner was not cleared properly, and a solid angled Booth shot from the right was parried by Masters at full stretch only for sub Drury to pounce on the loose ball and fire Lewes into a 2-0 lead on 72 minutes.
Welling then replaced Maxwell with Cottrell in the centre of the park, and shortly afterwards Johnson replaced Mucu, taking up station on the left flank with Blackman switching to the right. Cottrell was soon booked for kicking at an opponent on the halfway line, and although Keevil had been getting forward more the Wings attack still lacked a cutting edge and there appeared no way back into the game. As the match approached its conclusion, another Rooks attack ended with Booth heading into the side netting when he might well have scored, and so the final score was 2-0 at a venue which is never a happy hunting ground for the Wings.
Overall it was not the worst Wings performance, but the problem remains the lack of a cutting edge; this seems unlikely to improve while Omari is left to cope alone up front and the wide play is below par, with some players flattering to deceive too often and others just not up to it. Keevil improves the creativity in midfield but definition of roles in that area is needed – it can be done, witness England’s improvement over their last two matches! The defence still looks basically sound, and this match again saw a towering performance from Chris Moore, who added numerous accurate long-range passes to his repertoire, and another superb display from Robbie Ryan.
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