WELWYN GC re-found their pre-season form with this emphatic second round League Trophy away victory at SSML newcomers AFC Southgate at Arkley, in midweek.
Twice in their pre-season build-up, the Citizens netted seven in matches and they did so again, as after surviving a scare mid-way through the first half of this tie, they eased away to a comfortable win in the second 45 minutes.
There was also a welcome return to goal-scoring form for forward Brandon Carney, who notched a hat-trick in the opening hour, before being replaced.
Manager Adam Fisher made multiple changes to his line-up from the side that had progressed in the FA Vase at Abingdon four days earlier.
Powerful midfield duo Ben Spaul and Ben Long were rested altogether full-back Jon Sexton was unavailable, while regular forwards, Jon Clements and Josh Bronti and keeper Charlie May, were all on the bench,
It was Carney who put WGC ahead in 14 minutes, when a Southgate defender completely missed a Charlie Joy cross from the right and the Citizens’ forward put away an easy chance.
But around the half-hour mark, the Herns Lane side were staggered by a two goal salvo from their Division 2 hosts, in as many minutes.
The experienced Adem Ali got over a fine cross from the right that WGC’s defence failed to cut out and home forward Bernard-Morgan got his head to it before keeper Olly Leslie to put away the equalizer.
Two minutes later, the visiting defence was split open by a through ball down the middle, Southgate forward Marius Serkin took it on, to slip his shot wide of Leslie for 2-1.
But to their credit, WGC were back on terms, again inside two minutes. Fine work by Joy saw him link up with Jay Rolfe, who hooked the ball back into the winger’s path. He hit a trademark, powerful drive at home keeper Barkat, who couldn’t stop the effort, as it flew under him, for a 3-2 lead.
In stoppage time at the end of the half, WGC doubled their lead. Again it was the Joy-Rolfe combo down the right that did the damage, This time, Joy chipped a delightful ball over the home defence, Rolfe ran through and blasted home the fourth high over keeper Barkat.
AFC Southgate threatened to cut the lead once again in the early minutes of the second-half. Ali got free down the middle and homed in on goal, but John McGrandles tracked him all the way and got in a vital block.
It was the home side’s last serious threat of the evening. On 58 minutes WGC went 5-2 ahead, when from a quick free-kick, Sean Brettell threaded through a fine pass that put Carney in to complete his hat-trick from close range.
Manager Fisher immediately replaced the three goal star with Clements, who added the sixth, three minutes after being introduced, played clean through by another shrewd, lofted pass from Brettell.
Josh Bronti also replaced the impressive Joy on the hour and it was he who made it seven with 15 minutes to go.
Charlie Rome made a run from deep over 30 yards and then slipped Bronti in to add the final goal and see WGC through to a third round home tie with the winners of Harpenden and Edgware’s meeting.
WGC: Leslie, Rolfe, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Corran, Marks, Rome, Brettell (Payne 70), Joy (Bronti 59), Kersey, Carney (Clements 59).