Toolstation League premier division: Wellington 0, Buckland Athletic 1
Ten-man Wellington could hold their heads high after an odd-goal Good Friday defeat by sixth-placed Buckland at the Playing Field.
The game turned on the controversial sending off of Nathan Byrne eight minutes before half-time but the Tangerines still deserved at least a point.
It was the second of four games in just over a week for Wellington and they again rotated their squad including a welcome return from injury for defender Stefan Philips.
After a lively start, it looked like Buckland would take the lead when they were awarded a penalty for handball after 27 minutes.
The ball cannoned off Wellington’s Ryan Brereton and the referee pointed to the spot only for ex-Taunton Town striker Jared Lewington to put his kick wide of the post.
However, they were not to be denied and went ahead four minutes later when Lewington’s strike partner Ryan Bush got the benefit of a rebound in the box and drove low past keeper Harley Wilkinson.
Wellington were then shocked by Byrne’s dismissal in the 37th minute. Buckland broke out of defence and the midfielder pulled down one of their players on the edge of the centre circle.
The referee decided he was the last man and produced a red card turning away home protests that there were defenders getting back to cover.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Wellington went on to boss the rest of the game without being able to get back on terms.
Will Armstrong, only 17, played the whole of the second half while another Reserves player, leading scorer Rohan Poulsom, also stepped off the bench and the pair acquitted themselves well.
Wilkinson didn’t have a save to make until a superb double block in the closing minutes while both Tom Stone and Jake Quick went close as the hosts left Buckland hanging on to their slender advantage.
Wellington also had vehement appeals for a penalty for handball turned down after 72 minutes – it just wasn’t to be their day.
The Tangerines will now be looking to end a run of defeats away to bottom club Cadbury Heath on Easter Monday. They then host Ilfracombe Town at the Playing Field on Wednesday, ko 7.45pm.
Wellington: Harley Wilkinson, Stefan Phillips, Tom Stone, Jason Quick, Zeph Phillips, Jamie Nicholson, Ryan Brereton, Eli Collins, Nathan Byrne, Miles Quick, Jake Quick. Substitutes: Will Armstrong, Tom Burt, Rohan Poulsom, Jack Bown-Porter (used); Sully McKenna (not used).
Photos courtesy of the Around Wellington news and sport website.