AFC Wimbledon's 18-match unbeaten run was ended by a 74th minute strike by Welling's Sanchez Ming in a game that saw the Dons create few chances and rely on goalkeeper James Pullen to keep the scoreline respectable.
Weling provided stiff opposition for the Dons back in November and have been hovering just outside the play off places all season, so this was always going to be a tough game, but the Wings' 4-0 destruction of Hampton last week suggested that it was going to be more than tough. And so it proved.
On 12 minutes Welling's Sinclair was booked for clattering into
Danny Kedwell and just minutes later striker Baker appeared to smash Jason Goodliffe across the face with his forearm, a challenge that the referee amazingly didn't even deign worthy of a reprimand. Andy Ford's side had set his side up in a 3-5-2 formation and central midfielders Blackburn and Arter were having the best of the early exchanges, thanks in no small part to Dwane Lee's difficult first 20 minutes that saw him give the ball away on a number of occasions.
The usually calm and skilfull Lee was looking way below his best and it seemed only a matter of time before he surrendered possession in a more dangerous area. Thankfully Welling's final ball was often as poor as the play that had preceded it, but try as they might the Dons just couldn't find an opening at the other end. Sinclair, Andrews and Parkinson seemed impregnable at the back but the Dons back four of Jay Conroy, Alan Inns, Chris Hussey and the indefatigable Goodliffe were equally adept in snuffing out any danger posed by Baker and Ademola.
A 20 yard free kick from Lee was dealt with well by Mitten and the
keeper eventually held onto Jon Main's fierce effort from wide out on the left, but the Dons rarely threatened the Welling goal. Ming could have given the visitors the lead on 30 minutes but his effort was blocked at the far post by Hussey and when Baker found himself in space two minutes later Pullen pulled off the first of what would become a whole series of fine saves.
A scoreless first half, as Dons fans have come to realise, is no
disaster and a typically rousing second half display was on the cards. Except that Welling were having none of it. Marshelled by former Don, Rob Quinn, the central midfield three clearly had the better of the Dons' trio of Sam Hatton, Kennedy Adjei and Lee and Wimbledon's nine point lead at the top was beginning to look a little too slender for comfort as news of Hampton's canter to victory over Chelmsford was filtering through. The Dons' failure to make any clearcut chances for Kedwell and Main continued but Welling had upped their game and looked for more the likely to score. With 16 minutes to go, they took the lead when Arter's shot was blocked and rebounded for Ming to bury past Pullen.
The Dons keeper was then forced into a magnificent save in a one on one with Sheringham less than two minutes after the goal and when Ademola tried to lob him from 15 yards Pullen managed to get fingers to it and catch it at the second attempt. The Dons had by this point replaced Lee and Main with Saunders and Ibe and although it brought fresh legs onto the pitch it didn't alter the pattern of the game. With time running out Finn and Ibe forced corners on either wing and Kedwell almost squeezed the loose ball home from a Hussey inswinger but Mitten and Sinclair scrambled it clear.
With just seconds remaining another Hussey corner was met by the head of Hatton but from no more than a yard out Kedwell's flick header flew over the bar and with it went the Dons' chances of a barely deserved draw.