Two goals in two minutes from Sahr Kabba at the end of the first half condemned FC Halifax Town to another defeat, as Welling United secured a third successive victory for the first time in two years.
In a lively contest both teams had plenty of chances throughout but it was the Wings who proved to be more clinical as the Shaymen were punished for their profligacy in what is expected to be caretaker manager Gareth McClelland’s final game in temporary charge before a successor to Neil Aspin is hopefully announced before the home game with Cheltenham next Saturday.
There was a bit of confusion before kick-off as Matt Brown was named as captain on the official team-sheet, yet it was the more experienced Matt – Glennon – that led the side out. And both were actively involved in the opening ten minutes.
After a very early lull in proceedings, in which Glennon’s opposite number, Tom King, was the only note of discussion as he slipped to take a goal-kick, the game suddenly burst into life when George Porter hit a fierce shot from distance. Glennon, however, was equal to it.
That sparked a succession of corners for the home side and Glennon had to be alert again to hold onto a looping Porter header.
Brown’s involvement, surprisingly, came at the other end. Sam Walker clipped in a free kick after former Chelsea youth product, Nortei Nortey, was very naughty and handled on the edge of the area. The set-piece deflected fortuitously into Brown’s path, but he ballooned his effort over when well placed.
The same duo that combined for Town’s equalising goal at home to Gateshead on Tuesday evening then came close to opening the scoring on 23 minutes. A sublime Walker corner was met powerfully by the head of James Bolton, but the defender could not steer it on target.
With Town ruing that gilt-edged chance, the home side roared straight to the other end but Sheffield United loanee, Julian Banton, came to the rescue to thwart Kabba.
Barely a minute later, Welling captain Ricky Wellard, curled a sumptuous left-footed drive towards the far corner, but, fortunately for the static Glennon, the ball drifted inches wide.
The action was unrelenting and swung immediately back to other end with the Shaymen carving out another golden opportunity. Again, it fell to an advanced Bolton who this time carefully placed a Scott McManus cross just wide from 18 yards.
United conceded another dangerous free-kick on the edge of the area which Walker left responsibility for Kingsley James, but the England C international’s disappointing effort hit the wall.
And then came an extraordinary five minutes passage of play in the run-up to half-time. Walker resumed set-piece duties which invited Jordan Burrow to head towards goal. King fumbled, allowing Hamza Bencherif, continuing in his advanced role, to nip in and seemingly prod home the loose ball at the second attempt. However, what would have been a deserved opening goal was harshly ruled out for offside.
Undeterred, Town attacked again against what seemed like a vulnerable Welling defence. Shaun Tuton escaped down the right and delivered a pin-point cross for James but Michael Chambers produced a timely interception.
The resulting corner was met by that man Bolton and although he kept his header on target, King was in the way.
With the Shaymen well on top, it was somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow when Kabba stabbed past Glennon on 44 minutes after Town’s number one failed to hold onto Sam Corne’s header.
But worse was to come for Town before the interval as Kabba grabbed a quick-fire double when he rifled into the top corner from the edge of the box to give Welling a commanding lead.
With an attacking-looking looking bench, McClelland opted to keep things as they were at the start of the second half and, after Ben Jefford rolled a low shot wide of Glennon’s post, Town began to impose themselves again.
A devilish Walker free kick was headed over by Brown before James forced a fantastic save from King with a vicious shot on the turn. Bencherif then dragged an effort wide of the far post before Burrow guided a header from an inviting James cross from the right over the bar.
Dazzling feet from Tuton saw him ghost into the box but he tumbled to the ground theatrically and was, predictably, shown a yellow card.
Town then survived two scares in the space of four minutes as Welling looked to put the game out of reach. Firstly Kabba and Wellard were denied by Glennon and Bolton in a mammoth goalmouth scramble before Porter called Glennon into action again, producing instinctive reactions to keep out the lively midfielder’s header.
James was way off target after great work by substitute Josh MacDonald but Town still could not turn their chances into goals.
Glennon was seemingly keen to make amends for the error that led to Welling’s opening goal and kept the score down with a smart double save to prevent Kabba notching his hat-trick and Wellard on the follow-up.
Welling had not kept a clean sheet since the opening day of season in their victory over Guiseley, but they managed to shut the Shaymen out for the first time in nine outings, as McClelland tasted defeat for the first time in his caretaker role.
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