Welling United suffered a harsh defeat at the death at the hands of Chelmsford City at the J Hearnden Community Stadium on Tuesday evening.
A blistering encounter saw the visitors take the lead midway through the second half before Kain Adom’s first goal for the club looked to have earned the Wings a first point of the season at the third time of asking.
But, following a pair of red cards to either side late on, Chelmsford bagged a winner in the ninth minute of injury time to break Welling hearts.
The big news pre-match saw the inclusion of 17-year-old forward David Kamara who was handed his Wings league debut by boss Danny Bloor.
And the academy graduate made an immediate impact, proving himself to be a real handful for the Clarets’ defence.
With 11 minutes on the clock, he carved out a fantastic opportunity for himself when he outmuscled his marker just inside the Clarets’ half before galloping towards the box. With keeper Josh Olwayemi rushing out, he denied Kamara what would have been a dream start to his debut to make the save one-on-one.
Three minutes later, Kamara was involved again as he was shoved in the box trying to get on the end of Jephte Tanga’s excellent ball into the box, presenting Welling with an excellent opportunity to open the scoring from the spot.
Will Wood stepped up but was denied by more goalscoring heroics from Oluwayemi, who dived to his left to keep the penalty out.
In truth, the home side had the better of the first half, but just could not find a way through, while Chelmsford’s best chance of the half came early on when Mohammed Dabre scuffed well wide from a good position in the box.
A good opportunity fell to the visitors early in the second half, but Josh Castiglione could only send his diving header over from close range.
At the other end, the Wings came closer still following some excellent build-up play which saw TJ Bramble burst forwards, resulting in Wood seeing a shot well closed down in the box, with Tanga rattling the outside of the post with a follow-up.
Just past the hour mark, it was the away side who grabbed the lead, however – substitute Charlie Ruff firing into the bottom corner to put the Clarets into the lead.
Shortly after, Ben Winterbottom pulled off a quite simply outstanding save to keep out Ben Brookes goal-bound header, stretching to tip it
The Wings went in search of a leveller and came close with 15 minutes remaining when sub Kareem Isiaka found an opening, only to be denied by Oluwayemi, while Amadou Kassarate suffered the same fate with a follow-up from distance.
With seven minutes left, Welling did, finally, get the leveller they deserved thanks to Adom’s first goal for the club.
Lining up his shot just outside the box, he plundered a brilliant finish into the bottom corner to spark wild celebrations as the Wings looked to be heading for a point.
But the drama did not end there. In the 87th minute, Kassarate was shown a second yellow card for dissent, leaving the hosts down to 10 men, only for that to be levelled by a straight red card for Chelmsford’s Frankie Terry three minutes later for a reckless challenge.
Castiglioni threatened in the seventh minute of injury time, hitting the post for the away side as the Wings breathed a sigh of relief, only to have their hopes of a first point of the season dashed two minutes later when Castiglioni struck at the death, taking the three points back to Essex.
Welling will go again on Saturday when they make the journey to Taunton Town.
Welling United: Winterbottom, Byrd, Olomowewe, Burchell, Green, Tanga, Vaughan, Odusanya (Kassarate 58), Wood (Adom 68), Bramble, Kamara (Isiaka 68).
Subs (not used): MacAllister, Papadopoulos.
Booked: Wood 45+2 (foul on Castiglione)
Sent off: Kassarate 87 (second-bookable offence)
Goal: Adom 83
Chelmsford City: Oluwayemi, Brookes, Wordsworth (Ruff 44), Ebuzoeme, Dabre, Bettamer (Jones 60), Carruthers (Francis 79), Jenkins, Barnum-Bobb, Terry, Castiglione.
Subs (not used): Mills, Hockey.
Booked: Ebuzoeme 31 (foul on Bramble), Jermaine 85 (time wasting), Barnum-Bobb 90+11 (removing shirt)
Sent off: Terry 90 (reckless challenge)
Goals: Ruff 62, Castiglione 90+9
Referee: Robert Claussen