Welling United were made to settle for a point against unbeaten Havant & Waterlooville at Park View Road on Saturday.
Having gone ahead twice through Ade Azeez and Taylor Maloney, Warren Feeney’s men were pegged back twice as the visitors grabbed an equaliser three minutes from full-time, despite having been reduced to 10 men following Billy Clifford’s red card.
After an early James Roberts free-kick whistled just past the post for the visitors early on, Welling enjoyed the first real opening of the match with five minutes on the clock – Stefan Payne’s initial shot was heading for the bottom corner but Ross Worner kept it out with a smart save. With the ball falling to Ade Azeez, his rebound was also kept out from a tight angle.
Moments later at the other end, Myles Roberts pulled off an outstanding save to pluck Billy Clifford’s long-ranger out of the top right-hand corner.
On 18 minutes, Azeez came close again when he was played straight into the box by a clever free-kick from the centre of the park, but Worner was, once again, equal to his effort.
Just before the half-hour mark, Azeez finally had his goal as the Wings took the lead. The striker got himself in behind the Hawk’s defence and kept his cool under pressure from a defender to fend him off and finish with a shot off the ground.
The lead would last just four minutes, however with the visitors drawing level via an own goal.
Threatening down the left, a dangerous, low Havant cross was met by Sendles-White attempting to cut it out, but the defender could only turn into his own net.
Six minutes before the break, Welling regained their lead following some great football. Aaron Barnes did excellently to get down the right before sending in a low ball which was cleverly laid off by Payne into the path of Maloney who picked his spot and finished to make it 2-1 going into the break.
The match continued to be a war of attrition into the second period as two good sides boxed it out.
Roberts was called into action to make a good save from substitute Muhrmmadis Fall at his near post, before getting right behind a header from his namesake Roberts as the Wings continued to hold their opponents at bay.
Havant’s Roberts threatened again with another effort from distance which dipped inches past the right-hand upright on 68 minutes, while Jason Prior wasted a good opportunity in the box by firing straight at the keeper as Welling continued to frustrate the visitors.
Indeed, the Hawks’ frustration was compounded with 11 minutes left when they were reduced to 10 men as Billy Clifford was dismissed after being shown a second yellow card for hauling down Azeez on the break.
With four minutes left, the game turned on a moment as Payne hit the post with a good opening at the far post, leaving Havant to go down the other end and immediately grab a late equaliser.
A cross from the right was met by the head of Prior to send the unbeaten Hawks into wild celebrations, denying Welling what would have been an excellent win.
There was still time for the hosts to score what they thought was a 97th-minute winner when Chi Ezennolim slammed home in a crowded box, only for the celebrations to be cut short by the linesman flag in controversial fashion.
Nevertheless, the point will surely prove to be a good one against one of the early pace-setters in the league, while Feeney’s men stretch their own unbeaten run to six games in all competitions.
Welling United: Roberts, Barnes, Parry, Sendles-White, Olomowewe, Ezennolim, Kassarate (Aransibia 84), Dunne, Maloney, Azeez (Papadapoulos 84), Payne.
Subs (not used): McKenzie, Francis,, Hyde.
Booked: Payne 22 (foul on Easter), Azeez 49 (foul on Membhard), Kassarate 59 (foul on Newton)
Goals: Azeez 28, Maloney 39
Havant & Waterlooville: Worner, Passley, Newton, Faster, Membhard, McCarthy, Prior, Clifford, Gobern (Faal 59), Roberts, Crichlow (Wright 70).
Subs (not used): Burnett, Read, Collin.
Goals: Sendles-White (og) 34, Prior 87
Booked: Roberts 57 (foul on Azeez)
Sent off: Clifford 79 (second bookable offence)
Referee: Shelby Elson