Full-time: Welling United 1, Robins 1
Cheltenham Town salvaged a valuable point in a dramatic finale to a scrappy encounter at Welling United’s Park View Road this afternoon.
Striker Luke Wanadio had seemingly handed The Wings a lifeline in their bid to escape relegation, popping up in the first minute of injury time to slot home his side’s first goal in five games.
The referee had the whistle to his lips when Dan Parslow's ball arrived at the feet of Dan Holman, in the fifth minute of injury time, who smashed it home from the edge of the box to rescue an unlikely share of the spoils.
The Londoners are scrapping for their lives in the bottom four, but they were a totally different proposition to the side that were easily beaten in Gloucestershire last month.
But for the third game in succession the Robins were far from their best and struggled to find fluency in their game, but Holman’s goal - their first since Danny Wright’s at Tranmere Rovers - could prove to be pivotal when the season comes to a close.
There were three changes to the side that was defeated down at Eastleigh on Tuesday night.
Dillon Phillips (knee) and James Dayton (hamstring) missed out through injury while George McLennan dropped to the bench.
Goalkeeper Jon Flatt, taken on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers during the week to fill in Phillips’ absence, started his first game for the club while Jack Munns replaced Dayton on the left. Jordan Cranston took up position at left back.
The Wings looked infinitely more organised than the side that were flattered by the 2-0 reverse scoreline at the World of Smile Stadium last month.
They started brightly here and went close early on when Nortei Nortey bent one inches wide of the target.
Cheltenham looked less than assured in the opening exchanges but their first chance arrived with quarter of an hour played when Holman stretched to reach Dan Rowe’s inswinging cross, but he couldn't connect to test the goalkeeper.
Tom Adele saw a shot deflected, while Holman struck one straight at Marek Rodak after he was teed up by Danny Wright following a neat move.
Gary Johnson had seen enough by this point and shuffled his pack 11 minutes before the interval, replacing James Rowe with George McLennan in a tactical move that saw Munns switch to the right.
The left back took his place on the left of midfield and the switch had it desired effect, with the Robins playing with far more authority.
Danny Wright had a great chance to put them in front, racing onto Kyle Storer’s header in the box, but the striker couldn’t get a shot away.
Then Cameron Burgess met a Jack Munns’ free-kick with a downward header, but Rodak held it.
This is a classic non-league ground, and the traveling faithful swapped ends during the break.
It’s been 18 years since the club last visited, going back to the opening day of the 1998-99 season when they lost 2-1 despite taking the lead through Chris Banks.
But if the club were to miss off this stop next season, they really needed to find a way to unpick the home side and take full advantage of rivals Forest Green Rovers’ 1-0 defeat the previous evening at the hands of Grimsby Town.
Pell replaced Hall 11 minutes after the restart, but frustration grew and Storer was lucky to escape a card for a poor challenge.
Holman tried his luck after 65 minutes, calling Rodak into his first save of the second half from distance.
He made an even flying save five to deny Holman five minutes later, who latched onto McLennan’s cross from the left to thump one on target.
Then in the following chaos Burgess, Pell and Storer each saw great chances cleared off the line.
Johnson’s last move was to send on Morgan Amari-Smith for Wright but it was a Welling substitute, Michael Bakare, who had a great opportunity to grab a goal. However he sliced his effort well wide from a great position.
Cheltenham by now were in the ascendancy, and Welling were living dangerously when McLennan had the ball in the back of the net. Munns had measured an effort against the left upright from the edge of the box, but the left wing back’s prod into the back of the net was ruled out for offside.
Nortey drew a regulation save from Flatt with a curler from 20 yards, while at the other end Holman didn’t get enough on his volley to test Rodak.
There was a huge let off six minutes from time when Flatt unconvincingly pushed Luke Wanadio’s effort against the right post before watching the ball roll along the goal line.
Next Holman volleyed wildly over as the clock approached the 90-minute mark, but he finally got his reward during the dramatic period of injury time.
WELLING UNITED (4-4-1-1): Rodak; Williams, Gayle, Lokko, Chesmain; Wanadio, Nortey, Kargbo, Harris; Kashnet; Adelboye (Bakare 72). Subs not used: Kabba, Daniel, Vidal.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Flatt; Barthram, Burgess, Parslow, Cranston; Rowe (McLennan 34), Hall (Pell 56), Storer, Munns; Holman, Wright (Morgan-Smith 72). Subs not used: Kitscha (Gk), Waters.
REFEREE: D Rock