Welling United fell to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Worthing at the Crucial Environment Stadium on Saturday, despite a late, spirited fightback.
Two first-half goals from the hosts gave the Wings an uphill struggle ahead of the second half and a third just after the hour seemingly put paid to the visitors hopes, despite Taylor Maloney’s penalty consolation 21 minutes from time.
However, when Dan Nkrumah’s first goal for the club in the 84th minute sparked a late rally, there was every chance Welling could have earned an unlikely point.
But despite the late spirit on show, it was not enough for Warren Feeney’s men.
The Wings came close to an opener with eight minutes on the clock through Amadou Kassarate. Maloney’s initial shot from the edge of the box hit Kassarate on the way through and the the midfielder turned and rolled an effort inches past the right-hand upright.
Moments later, Myles Roberts proved to be a hero at the other end as he put his body on the line to keep out the hosts.
Ollie Pearce’s impressive burst forwards saw Worthing get into the box with Davide Rodari in a great position, but Roberts rushed out to keep him out one-on-one, taking a whack in the face for his troubles.
The home side took the lead after 18 minutes and it was a real gift from Welling following a mix-up at the back. Roberts and Manny Parry collided while attempting to clear up a loose ball, leaving the Wings’ goal empty and Pearce with the simple task of finishing into the bottom left-hand corner.
That goal put the wind into the sails of the Rebels who then enjoyed a spell on the front foot, coming close through Lewis White and Pearce – the latter denied by another good Roberts stop.
Welling took a while to stabilise after conceding, but came inches away from a leveller just prior to the half-hour mark when Maloney’s shot was halted by a brilliant last-ditch block which looped the ball just over the keeper and inches over the bar.
Eight minutes before the break, Worthing added a second via a simple counter-attack. A pass through the middle set away White who bounded towards the box before rolling a perfectly-placed shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
It nearly got worse for the Wings before the break but for another Roberts save – the Watford loanee got his fingertips on Pearce’s bullet header to send it over the bar – but they came close to pulling one back when Medy Elito was played through, only for him to see his quickly-taken shot well saved one-on-one.
With their tails up, the hosts started the second half strongly, with Cal Kealy drawing a pair of good saves early on from Roberts, while the always-threatening Pearce sent a volley just over.
In truth, the game was slipping away from the Wings and by the time the hosts netted their third in the 62nd minute, it was all-but game over.
Roberts, yet again, was called into action as he made two superb point-blank stops in quick succession, but there was nothing he could do about the third attempt, which saw White turn in the follow-up.
Welling received a glimmer of hope with 21 minutes left on the clock when they were awarded a penalty after Maloney’s shot had hit a hand and the midfielder dusted himself off to powerfully dispatch his spot-kick to reduce the deficit to two.
Worthing hit the crossbar as the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes, but all of a sudden, with six minutes remaining, the Wings had further hope when they pulled another one back, getting back to within touching distance.
Aaron Barnes’ excellent ball into the box was brought down well by Nkrumah who kept his cool to send a calm finish past the keeper for 3-2.
The Wings threw forward in search of that coveted leveller, but just couldn’t muster the third as Parry fired wide in the box.
Indeed, the job was made harder in injury time when sub Taylor Curran was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident and Welling would have to head back to Kent pointless, despite their late spirited efforts.
Worthing: Male, Colbran, Livesey-Austin, Willis, Bowry, Barker, Rodari, Pearce, White (Chambers 75), Rye, Kealy (Akanbi 65).
Subs (not used):, Beresford, Myles-Meekums, Cocoracchio.
Booked: Bowry 34 (time wasting), Colbran 67 (unsporting behaviour)
Goals: Pearce 18, White 37, 62
Welling United: Roberts, Jones (Barnes 62), Parry, Sendles-White (Curran 89), Powell, Dunne, Kassarate (Papadopoulos 46), Maloney, Elito, Nkrumah, Azeez.
Subs (not used): McKenzie-Lyle, Howard.
Booked: Kassarate 21 (foul on Bowry), Powell 39 (foul), Azeez 47 (foul on Rye), Maloney 67 (unsporting behaviour)
Sent off: Curran 90+2 (violent conduct)
Goal: Maloney 69 (pen)
Referee: Harry Wager