Our Under 18s played their first game of the season last night (Thursday 15th) with a friendly at Tiverton-based club, Elmore.
Manager Joe Conway was able to field two completely different teams in a game played over three 30-minute periods, such are the number of players who want to play football for the club at this level.
Elmore who won the league cup at this age group last year, fielded the majority of last year’s cup winning side and took the lead through a disputed penalty late in the first third.
Until that point Wellington had matched their opponents – who had already played a competitive game in this year’s FA Youth Cup – without really troubling the Elmore keeper.
In the second third, Wellington replaced the whole team as manager Conway tried players out in different positions and again the play was even. Elmore scored a second goal when slight hesitancy in the Wellington defence led to one of their talented midfield players curling a beauty into the top corner midway through the third.
Moments later they hit the bar with a rasping drive, but Wellington continued to battle and started to cause the home defence some problems in the last few minutes.
Wellington’s momentum continued in the final third as again Conway made both personnel and positional changes and a shrewd tactical switch, moving winger Josh Sibanda into the centre, resulted in the talented winger netting after a fine run and clinical finish.
Wellington then had a couple of corners as they pressed for an equaliser but any hopes were dashed when another rather harsh penalty was awarded to Elmore in the dying moments, making the final score 3-1 to the home team.
All the players deserve huge credit for their commitment and performance level in this match. Conway and assistant manager Andy Govier face a difficult task in selecting the squad for Tuesday’s opening league game against Welton Rovers.
Conway said after the game: “I was delighted with the lads. They all did exactly what we wanted them to do and there were some very positive performances against a very strong and skilful Elmore team.
“I now face the very difficult task of picking 16 players for next week’s game. I know there will, unfortunately, be some lads who will miss out, but I keep reminding them that there are a lot of games this season and they will all get their chance.”
Next week’s home game is on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm and the team hope a good turnout of local supporters will see them start the league season with a good performance against early pacesetters Welton Rovers.