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Welling United 3 Ebbsfleet United 2 match report: Stefan Payne scores hat-trick to beat champions

Welling secured National League South safety after coming from behind to beat champions Ebbsfleet at Park View Road on Saturday.

The Fleet took an early lead and dominated the first half-hour but Welling hit back thanks to a Stefan Payne hat-trick to secure maximum points.

Welling boss Warren Feeney. Picture: Dave Budden
Welling boss Warren Feeney. Picture: Dave Budden

Ebbsfleet served Welling early notice of the holes they were finding in the home defence. Three times in the first nine minutes, Darren McQueen shot over – twice after cutting inside and once after Chi Ezennolim slipped over.

It was, therefore, no surprise that McQueen was played in to open the scoring on 18 minutes, collecting Josh Wright’s clever pass before confidently slotting past Kai McKenzie-Lyle.

The goal came just moments after Welling had a clear penalty shout turned down, when Haydn Hollis clambered over Manny Parry in the penalty area but referee Farai Hallam – as he did throughout – was unmoved.

Once ahead Ebbsfleet should have immediately doubled their lead but Greg Cundle shot wide after being picked out in space by Billy Clifford.

Welling boss Warren Feeney became increasingly agitated – not just by the questionable officiating – but by some of his team’s defending. He had a point. Left-back Ezennolim never got close enough to McQueen, who was given the freedom of Welling in the first half.

But his team continued to plug away and levelled on 34 minutes. Medy Elito’s deep free-kick was headed back into the danger area by Parry and Payne slotted home the loose ball.

Welling nearly added a second as Christie Pattisson got away from Clifford and then breezed past Haydn Hollis before keeper Mark Cousins beat away his fierce drive.

Payne hadn’t scored in the league since early December and he made up for lost time by scoring his second of the afternoon four minutes into the second half. Another free-kick into the Ebbsfleet penalty area created confusion and Payne was on hand to turn the ball home with appeals for handball from the visitors being ignored.

Cundle’s flick came back off the post at the other end and Hollis headed over Luke O’Neill’s cross.

But Welling extended their lead on 66 minutes as Payne completed his hat-trick. Skupper James Dunne won the ball on the edge of the box and set up Payne, who brilliantly curled home from 20 yards.

Welling should have added a fourth late on when Parry somehow headed wide from a yard.

While Ebbsfleet had a Coulthirst strike ruled out for offside and then substitute Elliott Romain was denied by a last-ditch tackle with the visitors shouting for a penalty.

They eventually pulled a goal back two minutes into stoppage time when Josh Wright scored from close range but did not have enough time to salvage a point.

Welling: McKenzie-Lyle, Ezennolim, Parry, Cox (Kassarate 77mins), Elita, Lyons-Foster, Azeez (Balarabe 83mins), Payne (Nkrumah 90mins), Dunne, Sendles-White, Pattisson. Subs not used: Andrews, Gavin.

Ebbsfleet: Cousins, O’Neill, Martin (Romain 63mins), Wright, McQueen, Cundle (Chapman 86mins), Edser, Clifford (N’Guessan 68mins), Solly, Coulthirst, Hollis. Subs not used: Jombati, Finney.

Referee: Farai Hallam.

Attendance: 1,132.

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