WELWYN GC chalked up their second Southern League home win of the new campaign, but opponents Barton Rovers must have returned home over the Beds border, wondering how they didn’t take any reward from this Bank Holiday fixture.
For the visitors missed a penalty, had another valid-looking claim for a spot kick turned down, hit the Citizens crossbar and had appeals the ball had crossed dismissed and had a late ‘goal’ disallowed.
There was no doubt Adam Fisher’s side rode their luck in following up their opening day success over Didcot with this victory – after two successive defeats – but there were some stalwart rearguard performances in a claret shirt.
None did better than new midfielder Lee Close drafted into the back-line in place of the unavailable Dave Corran. Close was one of the WGC stars on the day.
Manager Fisher made three changes to the side that lost in the FA Cup at Brantham two days earlier, replacing Jon Sexton at full-back and leaving Dan Bond out of his attack. Recent signings Josh Holmes and Tony Williams came in, while George Ironton was recalled in midfield.
A poor opening quarter saw no goalmouth action, but with 21 minutes gone, WGC had a golden chance to take the lead. Newcomer Williams managed to escape the Barton defence and found Jon Clements, who squared it for Ironton to sky a great chance over from 10 yards.
Barton began to come into the game and Sam Oyeniran latched onto Andy Phillips’ flick, only to shoot straight at WGC keeper Dan Green.
Green made a much better save on his near post, with his feet, when the powerful Oyeniran burst down the right and cut in dangerously on goal.
Then as the game neared the interval, Barton turned on the power.
From a right-wing corner, Green again excelled, making a point-blank save from Paul Andrews’ header. From the rebound, Phillips crashed his header against the crossbar and when the ball bounced down, Barton players appealed it had crossed the line. Referee Mr Pullen waved their appeals away.
Three minutes later, Mr Pullen again incurred Barton’s wrath, when Phillips was sent clear into the area and went down under challenge by keeper Green, Many WGC fans in the ground feared a penalty, but Mr Pullen only awarded Barton a corner.
WGC began the second-half in terrific style and within a minute of the restart, Williams was slipped into the area to fire past Barton keeper Gould into the corner, to give the Citizens the lead against the run of play.
The Beds visitors attempted an immediate response, winger Osubu shooting straight at Green and WGC defender Jay Lovell getting in a goal-saving challenge on Phillips, as the striker threatened an immediate equaliser.
Then with 15 minutes to go, Barton were awarded a penalty, when Brett O’Connor lost possession outside his own area, and the combined efforts of Close and Holmes saw Barton’s Steffan Bailey bundled over.
It looked less of a penalty award than the previous incident, but Mr Pullen gave it and WGC were reprieved when Phillips struck his effort yards wide of the far post!
There was a further escape for the home side six minutes from the end, skipper Danny Payne losing the ball this time and Osubu putting Phillips through to crash his effort past Green, only for the assistant’s flag to have been raised earlier for offside.
It certainly was WGC’s lucky day, but it’s a victory that propels them up to eighth place in the fledgling Southern League Div 1 table.
WGC: Green, Hunt, Lovell, Close, Holmes, O’Connor, Payne, Ironton (Rolfe 56), Spaul, Clements (Karagozlu 88), Williams (Bond 76).