Saturday 26 October 2019

Welling United 0 v St. Albans 1

Pre-match, Tony said he fancied the visitors at 3-1 with the bookie. He went down to Eastleigh in the week and was very disappointed by the performance and the 4-2 defeat which saw the Wings exit the F A Cup, so I took this to be a tad melodramatic and said I was sure the Wings would turn the corner today against the bottom-placed side.

It was a depressing afternoon of grey cloud, intermittent rain and the first signs of the approaching cold. To accompany it we got the worst Welling performance I have seen. On paper the side look strong enough but there was a desperate shortage of energy and St. Albans settled quickly. Bradley Goldberg hobbled off after about twenty minutes and any Welling attacking intent left with him. Adam Coombes is a talented footballer but boy, is he lazy. Tee him up and he will finish but he seems content in between times to watch others running about and fighting for the ball. Anthony Cook moved into a more central role after Goldberg went off but he's not a striker. Cosgrave who came on played on the right but made little impression. 

The way was clear for the visitors to take control of the game and they did that, culminating in taking the lead shortly before half-time having sent a player clear who rode a challenge before running on and driving across Wilks into the far corner. Suddenly Tony's 3-1 odds looked very attractive. Welling continued to look lack-lustre and largely disinterested until the last fifteen minutes when they  realised they were heading for defeat and needed to pull something out of the hat. By then though St. Albans were fighting for a rare away win and they weren't letting go. Welling huffed and puffed but they lacked the finish and events were summed up when Coombes was booked for diving for a penalty. 

After a stuttering start to the season it was difficult to tell whether Welling were not firing properly under Mark Goldberg's management or if they just needed time to settle before they went on a winning run and moved up the table. This evening the Jury are looking accusingly at Mark Goldberg's failure to motivate his players or effect any meaningful tactical changes via substitutions. Hard not to think Steve King would have had this side much further up the table had he still been managing them. Welling have been here once before with Goldberg indulging himself and it didn't end well.

The only good news from the afternoon was hearing that Macauley Bonne had once again netted to haul the Addicks level at The Hawthorns and that Josh Cullen nailed a last-gasp penalty to earn the point against the league leaders. The contrast between Bowyer and Goldberg couldn't be clearer.

Saturday 12 October 2019

Welling United 0 v Hampton & Richmond 1

A disappointing defeat this to lowly Hampton & Richmond. After the Summer squad clearcut, the Wings have started the season slowly but owner and manager, Mark Goldberg, has continued to strengthen his squad and an upturn in performances has been visible, if not sustained yet in results. It was for that reason that I fancied the Wings to make light of the opposition this afternoon.

However, on a grim day with continual drizzle, Welling didn't really take control of the game and the visitors stood up to the challenge. It was well contested and largely fought in midfield which restricted goal-scoring opportunities at both ends. Bradley Goldberg flashed a shot inches over the bar having taken the ball down well and pressed on and the Wings had Captain Swaine to thank for a last-ditch tackle which stopped Orsi-Dadomo from striking when through on goal. Other than that Welling struggled in the open ing half to find the front pairing through open play or to reach the head of the towering Ejiro Okosieme whenever they got a set-piece.

Kicking towards the Park View Road, I expected some pressure from Welling in the second-half but it didn't come. The visitors actually stepped up began to exert some pressure on the Wings defence. Jack Jebb was introduced and Josh Oyinsan also came on but little changed for Welling. Inevitably, Hampton and Richmond snatched the lead with fifteen minutes left when they nodded home from a corner. It was almost disappointing to see that the Wings appeared able to step it up in the final ten minutes when they forced a number of corners and six-yard scrambles. They ran out of time and you were left wondering why they didn't try it earlier in the game. 

Goldberg must be frustrated at the moment but Welling just have to persevere and find the right combination. Adam Coombes has looked a bit half-hearted in the last few games and maybe a bit short of pace. Nathan Green didn't create anywhere near as much as Anthony Cook on the other wing and Waldren and Widdrington were stuck in the engine room for much of the game. 

I note that struggling Dartford won away at Oxford City today on Steve King's first day with the Darts. The talk today was about how good a bet Dartford may be to climb the table under King and make a challenge. Can't help feeling they may leap-frog the Wings and Steve King may be left with a wry smile come April...

Saturday 5 October 2019

Welling United 4 v Tavistock AFC 1

After the midweek Championship results and news of Neil Harris' resignation, I would have banked on both Charlton and Millwall being on the wrong end of heavy defeats this weekend. The fact that Charlton performed so brightly at Fulham and lead twice was again testimony to Lee Bowyer's ability to get the tactics right and fire his players up. Millwall's win over Leeds at the New Den probably told us more about Harris' resignation than any Chairman statement or fan conjecture.

Charlton won the midfield battle with the Cottagers in the opening forty-five and were able to play deep in the opposition half. The opening goal was coming and it was a finely worked goal from a deep cross which picked out Chris Solly at the back post and his cushioned header for the advancing Gallagher left young Conor with an opportunity to drill home. Fulham managed an equaliser but within 90 seconds Bowyer's boys re-took the lead when Macauley Bonne touched a cross on under heavy pressure and it sneaked in under the bar. It was great to see the Addicks continue the fight and for Bonne to net a goal of his own from open play. The fact that Fulham levelled up and had us hanging on at the end won't prevent the feel-good factor around the squad after taking what was an excellent away point. 

That set me up for the F A Cup encounter at Park View Road at 3pm when Welling entertained tier nine Tavistock. The travelling fans brought a "silenced by the lambs" flag but at the death, "massacre of the Lambs" would have been more appropriate. The Wings were a cut above and it showed, particularly in the first half when they raced into a three goal lead courtesy of a hat-trick from Bradley Goldberg. He was too quick for the Lambs back-line and scored from the left, the centre and the right of goal with three excellent low shots. He had a fourth ruled out for offside and Tavistock did manage to make the scoreline more respectable before the break.

In the second-half the visitors lost two players to red cards, both of which looked harsh to me, especially the second one which was nothing more than a robust 50-50. Strangely, Tavistock never looked like being men short despite Welling having a barrage of chances. Josh Oyinson put the result beyond any doubt but Goldberg, Jebb, Cook and Coombes all had fine efforts stopped by Josh Oak in the visitors goal. Goldberg might have had six by the finish but the game was won and that maybe affected the way Welling played.  Let's hope for another home draw in the next round.

Wednesday 2 October 2019

Charlton Athletic 1 v Swansea City 2

Swansea fans finished the match singing "we are top of the league..." which was a fitting summary of the game and of where we find ourselves (8th) after ten games played. 

Jonathan Leko lit the match-up with a cracking shot which may have taken a deflection into the top left-hand corner of the Swansea goal after less than two minutes. Charlton were pumped and played some great football in the opening twenty minutes which was very promising. Ominously, despite the slick midfield passing and movement of the front two, we didn't create another scoring chance and the Swans settled into the game. 

Before the match I read that they were a big side but apart from the two centre-backs and the centre forward, they were actually on the smaller side but they played very neat pass and move football which brought them back into the match. Things evened out before they scored their equaliser. Several calculated passes in and around our box lead to Dhanda being allowed to shoot from twelve yards and his shot took a decisive deflection to beat Phillips. It was no more than they deserved and they continued to press us when they got the chance. 

Our midfield of Gallagher, Oztumer, Cullen and Field were competitive but we again lacked any real hold-up play from the front two. Bonne and Leko were playing in more advanced attacking positions and closer together but very little stuck with them or lead to any follow-on play. 

After the break Swansea struck first from a corner which Ayew got to ahead of a posse of bodies and forced home in front of the Swansea supporters. At this point it looked like job done and to some extent it was. Bowyer threw Williams and Anneke on but the midfield was already choked and try as he might, Williams couldn't get enough time on the ball to do any damage. Chuks Anneke harassed the Swansea back line but he struggled to beat his man or create anything. 

Frustration crept into the Charlton performance and we picked up a couple of silly bookings - Conor Gallagher's was especially naive. Jake Forster-Caskey was thrown on for Purrington in an attempt to give us more attacking impetus but it made little difference. Swansea saw out the added five minutes and now sit clear, top-of-the-league. 

Perhaps this won't look such a bad result come May but without Taylor and with tough fixtures queueing up, I suspect we are heading into the bottom-half of the table. We really need Hemed or Beram to get fit quickly and add something, although the back-story of both suggests they may offer little more than we already have. No shame in that given our budget (and particularly our striking shortcomings) but I do wonder if we might suffer an equally damaging dip in confidence. I should pinch myself and remember we have Bowyer at the helm. He won't let that happen, will he?