A terrific team performance saw Welfare finally end their losing run with a deserved 1-0 win at high-flying Winterton Rangers, writes Steve Pennock.
Liam Radford scored the winner from the penalty spot on 68 minutes and goalkeeper Adam Stevens pulled off several superb saves but every player played their part with a fully committed performance.
Manager Mike Carmody moved Tyler Walker into the defence alongside Steve Garner and brought Chris Simpkins into the side as Welfare played five across midfield with Radford as the loan striker. Another boost was the return of forward Arran Hodgson who was on the bench after recovering from a broken leg early in the season.
The early stages of the game saw both sides effectively cancel each other out with it taking 13 minutes until the first real effort at goal when Winterton’s Paul Grimes shot well wide.
Welfare had claims for a penalty waved away on 22 minutes when Luke Williams appeared to be upended inside the box by goalkeeper Jordan Quibell but the game only really started to open up in the later stages of the half.
A well worked move by Welfare down the right on 32 minutes saw the ball played into the box for Josh O’Neill to flick on to Williams at the back post but his final shot was comfortably saved by Quibell. Three minutes later Leon Larcombe-Loftus found Simpkinsinside the box and he turned well before shooting wide from 15 yards.
Winterton responded with Luke Anderson bursting into the box before seeing his angled shot pushed away by Stevens and then on the stroke of half time Stevens pulled of a fantastic save to push away a close range effort from Grimes who looked certain to score.
Welfare were on the front foot from the first whistle in the second half with Simpkins playing in Radford straight from the kick off but the striker’s angled shot was deflected wide.
Josh Paskell replaced Josh Dodd on 49 minutes and Hodgson made his return to action on 60 minutes, replacing Simpkins.
Just past the hour mark a deep free kick for the home side saw Luke Wheeldon head wide at the back post when well placed and seconds later Oliver Fisher hit a 1st time shot wide from 25 yards.
Hodgson was unsettling the home defence and he came close to a fairy tale return when he saw his glancing header from an O’Neill free-kick saved on the line by Quibell on 66 minutes.
Seconds later Welfare forced a corner, which was taken short. When the ball was played in Paskell was bundled over at the far post and this time the referee awarded the penalty. Radford stepped up to confidently sent Quibell the wrong way to put Welfare ahead.
Welfare could count themselves unfortunate not to have extended their lead on 72 minutes when Paskell had the ball in the net but it was disallowed for an apparent foul on Quibell by Radford on the edge of the box when the keeper had simply pushed the ballaway with no contact from Radford.
There was a few nervous moments for Welfare as the game entered the final minutes with Larcombe-Loftus clearing off the line from Grimes on 82 minutes and a minute later Stevens pulling off another incredible save from close range following a corner.
Finally, after an eternal six plus minutes of stoppage time, Welfare registered their first win since the end of October.
Well done to every player for an excellent, committed performance which brought a deserved win. Hopefully more results will follow.
Welfare : Stevens, Larcombe-Loftus, Betts, O’Neill, Garner, Walker, Dodd (Paskell 49 mins), Aspinall, Radford, Williams (A. Jackson 89 mins), Simpkins (Hodgson 60 mins). Unused sub. Bucknall.
Referee : Mr. J. Mason
Attendance : 61