Welling United’s youngsters bowed out of the FA Youth Cup to Dorking Wanderers at the J Hearnden Skip Hire Community Stadium on Thursday evening following a dramatic penalty shootout.
Having taken a first-half lead, the young Wings were immediately pegged back as the two sides cancelled each other out in a real battle under the floodlights in DA16 before Dorking defender Luca Fulco proved to be the hero, taking the place of the injured Harry Charlesworth between the sticks and making the decisive save in the shootout.
The hosts registered the first effort at goal of the evening through Charlie Connell, whose good-looking free-kick dipped just wide of the post from 30 yards, before the young Wings took a 19th-minute lead.
A cross from the left was eventually cleared as far as Antonio Morgan who continued his run to smash the ball home into the bottom left-hand corner from 22 yards.
The lead would only last three minutes, however, with Dorking levelling matters from the penalty spot.
A visiting forward rounded keeper Archie Aldous on his way to goal, but received a clip, sending him tumbling and giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Ollie Rawlins duly stepped up and dispatched his spot-kick to make it 1-1.
In truth, the game was an extremely cagey affair, with neither side letting up in terms of chances at either end – a theme which continued throughout the second half.
The 70th minute saw Aldous pull off a brilliant save to keep out Dorking from close range, while Ollie Godziemski tested Dorking goalkeeper Harry Charlesworth at his near post in the dying minutes of the game, but it was otherwise a battle that was played out in midfield in the pouring south-London rain.
As a result of that late save, there was some late drama with Charlesworth being knocked unconscious, forcing a mammoth 24 minutes of injury time as penalties loomed.
The injury forced the keeper off which meant that Dorking had to continue with defender Luca Fulco between the sticks and, in the 20th minute of injury time, he made an excellent save with his legs to keep the Wings out from close range.
His heroics wouldn’t stop there, however, as he would ultimately claim the headlines in the shootout, knocking the Wings out in doing so.
With both sides missing penalties in the first five, it went to sudden death, and with the scores at 7-7, Osaige Omoregie saw his spot-kick saved by Fulco, allowing Hayden Gale to step up and net the winning penalty to send his side through.
Welling United: Aldous, Akinwunmi, Moore (Elliot 66), Gumbrell, Freeman, Omoregie, Morgan, Obilana, Kamara, Connell (Ward 59), Godziemski.
Subs (not used): Finlay, Campbell, Maxime-Samuels, Ikuesan, Kamara.
Booked: Aldous 22 (foul), Obilana 28 (foul), Kamara 62, Elliot 82 (foul)
Goal: Morgan 19
Dorking Wanderers: Charlesworth (Harland-Goddard 90+14), Cahusac, Richardson, Brown, Cowing, Fulco, Gale, Hay (Wooster 87), Rawlins, Vili (Todman 74), Yauta-Caballero.
Subs (not used): O’Hara, Brady, Lee, Russ.
Booked: Brown 37 (foul)
Goal: Rawlins 22