REPORT | Welling United 2 Tonbridge Angels 1

Welling United kicked off 2023 in style as they made it back-to-back wins by completing a festive double over Tonbridge Angels with a 2-1 victory at Park View Road on New Year’s Day. 

A trademark Taylor Maloney belter opened the scoring for the Wings early on, before they were pegged back by their visitors, but Ade Azeez’s goal on the stroke of half-time was enough to ensure that Warren Feeney’s men would celebrate the Christmas period with six points from six. 

The Wings made a very bright start to proceedings as they went on the front foot early on. 

A teasing Aaron Powell cross was very nearly met by Antony Papadopoulos’ killer touch, only for Angels keeper Jonathan Henly to beat him to it, while the hosts came agonisingly close to a fourth-minute lead when James Dunne saw an effort come back off the cross bar when he got on the end of Daniel Nkrumah’s nod down. 

Maloney came close shortly after when he sent a free-kick dipping just over the bar, but the midfielder was saving his best for a few moments later when he powered Welling into a 14th-minute lead. 

Superb build-up saw Maloney exchange a one-two with Kassarate, who returned his pass with a neat back-heel flick, before Maloney lined up his shot and fired an unstoppable drive into the back of the net from 22 yards. 

It had been a fantastic start from the home side and the lead was more-than deserved, but the visitors began to get a foothold back into the game shortly after. 

Thomas Parkinson shot over from a good position in the box, while Joseph Turner dragged wide as Tonbridge began to threaten, and they would have their equaliser on 23 minutes – a half-cleared cross dropped nicely for Lewis Gard who chested it down, before firing firmly into the bottom left-hand corner. 

It looked as if the sides would be heading for the dressing rooms at half-time on level terms, but the Wings, and Azeez, had other ideas. 

Just as they did on Boxing Day, Nkrumah and Azeez combined brilliantly to convert with the former cross from the left for the latter to plunder a volley home from close range to give the hosts the lead at the break. 

Into the second half and Welling came inches away from a third when Papadopoulos did everything right to bring down a long ball and burst into the box, only for his shot to hit the right-hand upright. 

With 14 minutes remaining, there was a moment of controversy as the hosts had a huge shout for penalty turned away. Amadou Kassarate’s run took him into the box before his progress was halted by a rather blatant trip from a Tonbridge defender. 

Much to the astonishment to those in attendance, however, the referee blew his whistle and awarded a free-kick to the visitors and a yellow card to the Welling midfielder for ‘simulation’, leaving the hosts’ bench outraged. 

Despite that, Welling kept their heads as they continued to manage the game expertly. 

Some late pressure was soaked up with relevant ease and the final whistle brought about new-year celebrations at Park View Road with the Wings now set for next weekend’s trip to Worthing in confident mood. 

Welling United: Roberts, Jones, Parry, Sendles-White, Powell, Dunne, Kassarate, Maloney, Nkrumah (Elito 77), Papadopoulos (Curran 85), Azeez. 

Subs (not used): McKenzie-Lyle, Howard, Barnes. 

Booked: Dunne 33 (foul on Greenidge), Papadopoulos 36 (foul on Wagstaff), Kassarate 76 (simulation) 

Goals: Maloney 14, Azeez 45+2

Tonbridge Angels: Henly, Fileding, Braham-Barrett, Parkinson (Collins 72), Miles, Gard, Greenidge, Wood, Turner (Sodres-Junior 80), Aransibia (Fagg 65), Wagstaff. 

Subs (not used): Hinds, Tyrie. 

Booked: Aransibia 56 (foul on Azeez), Parkinson 69 (dissent)

Goal: Gard 23

Referee: Robert Claussen. 

Att: 932

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