WELWYN GC returned to winning form after three successive league defeats by making it through to the last 32 of the Southern League Challenge Cup, with their second victory of the campaign over Barton Rovers.
The Citizens edged a rather fortunate 1-0 victory over the Beds side on August Bank Holiday Monday in the league and repeated the dose with a much more deserved 2-1 victory in this cup-tie.
Manager Adam Fisher rang the changes in his goal-shy side for this game.
Stalwarts of last season’s promotion side – top scorer Jon Clements and acting skipper Ben Spaul – were both relegated to the bench, as Fisher gave recent signing Kaan Fehmi his first full outing and brought Josh Holmes back into his defence, pushing the attack-minded Adam Hunt into midfield.
WGC began brightly enough and could have been ahead in six minutes, when Lee Close raced onto a left-wing break, but Barton keeper Gould saved his shot well with his legs.
The encouraging start from the home side was rocked back on its heels, by the visitors taking an eighth minute lead, a long cross from the right eluded defender Holmes and Barton’s Jimmy Hartley got in behind him to power a head past keeper Dan Green.
WGC responded well to the setback, Nick Elliott hit a fearsome effort inches past the post, but on 15 minutes Elliott did better finding the net with a sharp drive after Dan Bond’s left-wing cross fell at his feet, to bring WGC level.
The Clarets enjoyed the better of the game from that point, Gould pulling down a 20 yard drive from Hunt, impressively and Bond volleying powerfully goalward only to be thwarted by the Barton keeper’s legs again.
A lot of WGC’s best forward work was been created by Fehmi’s impressive distribution and touch play as the recent capture from Hayes & Yeading enjoyed a good first-half.
The tie continued to entertain with both keepers in action, Barton’s Gould again denying WGC to foil a second Elliott goal with another good stop, while at the other end, Dan Green made a fine full length save when Barton’s Victor Osobu struck a strong free-kick.
With no extra time in the competition, a penalty shoot-out was looking a real possibility until WGC conjured up a picture goal to win the tie in 72 minutes.
The outstanding Elliott struck a fine ball out to the right to set Bond free. He produced an equally good, pinpoint cross into the area where Josh Bronti came in to meet it with a fine downward header past Gould to net a goal fit to win any cup-tie.
WGC almost had a third four minutes from time. Clements and Ashley Kersey were both introduced for the final stages and Clements was put through by another Elliott defence-splitter and cleverly curled his effort around keeper Gould, only to see the effort hit the post and bounce back into the keeper’s grateful arms.
WGC: Green, Holmes (Spaul 63), Rolfe, Lovell, Sexton, Hunt, Close, Elliott, Bond (Clements 75), Fehmi (Kersey 82), Bronti.