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Suspension ruled out Jake Gallagher and Blaine Hudson while Harry Beautyman joined a lengthy absence list with illness, missing out alongside the likes of Tom Bender, Kurtis Guthrie, Jack Obersteller and Connor McLaren.
Welling restored keeper Lee Butcher and Ross Lafayette to the starting line-up but the latter failed to get through the first half-hour before he was replaced by Bournemouth loanee Harry Cornick.
The Wings also fielded Crystal Palace defender Quade Taylor, who has joined on loan - the last of the 12 loans clubs are allowed to make during the season - while Barney Williams was recalled from his loan at VCD to play in the back four.
Former Dartford man Tom Champion went close for the hosts early on while Welling's best opening in a goalless first half fell to Toby Ajala, whose shot went narrowly over.
Cambridge made a double change at half-time with Delano Sam-Yorke and Liam Hughes coming on and it had the desired effect as they went ahead on 64 minutes.
Loui Fazakerley fouled Donaldson in the box and Adam Cunnington scored the spot-kick past keeper Lee Butcher.
The Wings were back on level terms on 72 minutes when Josh Wakefield's corner was headed in by on-loan Charlton forward Tobi Sho-Silva for his first goal for the club.
But their joy was shortlived as four minutes later, former Wings forward Andy Pugh picked out Sam-Yorke, who slotted beyond Butcher for the winner.
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