Wellington Rec’s Irish Cup adventure ended with a narrow 3-2 defeat by Championship 1 side Harland and Wolff Welders at Tillysburn Park.
Manager Stephen Donald got the improvement he was striving for following that home defeat by Bloomfield, claiming: “It was like chalk and cheese, compared to the week before. We went with a clear plan of 4-1-4-1 and while the Welders saw plenty of the ball, the system worked, they just couldn’t break us down. We have to grind results out and we nearly caused a shock.”
Wellington snatched the lead on 20 minutes, thanks to Stuart Hilditch’s sublime chip. He almost rocked the boat again just minutes later, nodding one just past the post, while Andy Phillips just failed to deliver the pass that would have left Michael Moore with a one-on-one with the Shipyardmen all at sea.
Instead, it was the Welders who showed their mettle on the half-hour with a goal from midfield anchorman Ryan Deans.
Two minutes later, the Welders sailed into the lead, although there was more than a hint of offside as Chris Middleton raced through to beat young Paul Morton.
Scott Todd could have repaired the damage had his effort not zipped the wrong side of the bar, only for the Welders to tighten their grip just before the break courtesy of a Michael McLellan free-kick which took a deflection off Moore.
Gary Smyth’s side were kept at bay by Paul Morton before Wellington turned the tide with a Dean Shaw header 20 minutes from time. Rec could have taken the tie into extra-time with Scott Cowie heading just over and Moore and Shaw also going close.
Wellington Rec: P Morton – Nelson, Cahoon (Wilson), S Cowie, Magill – Phillips - Shaw (Paisley), Todd, Moore, Waide – Hilditch (Mannis).
Wellington could welcome back Paul Matthews, signed after the transfer window, for Saturday’s Division 1B trip to Grove United.
In the Premier Division, Islandmagee’s woes continued with a 9-0 defeat away to Steel and Sons Cup finalists Albert Foundry. New boss Mark Duff was not at the game but is expected to be in the dugout for Ards Rangers on Saturday.
In 1b, there’s a derby as UUJ host Rathfern Rangers. In 1c, 18th Newtownabbey OB welcome Dromore Amateurs, while Newington Rangers entertain Saintfield United.