WELWYN GC struck a huge morale-boosting blow for the rest of the SSML Premier season, when they crushed leaders Berkhamsted inside the opening half-hour of this much anticipated first league clash of the season between the division’s long-standing top two.
On the back of their thrilling 4-3 extra time victory over the same opposition in the Charity Shield, in midweek, Adam Fisher’s side struck a crucial blow towards promotion, as they became the first side this season to win on Berko’s own Broadwater pitch.
And similiarly to their last home league win – a 5-2 success over Edgware Town seven days before – WGC had ended the game as a contest inside the opening 30 minutes.
Manager Fisher knows that promotion is far from won with this outstanding team performance on a cloying, rain-soaked Broadwater pitch.
His side still have third and fourth placed sides Leighton Town and Biggleswade FC to play twice, a difficult away game at Harpenden who are fifth and a third meeting in a fortnight with Berkhamsted, today week.
But this victory will send reverberations around the division.
WGC were at it from the opening moments, central defender John McGrandles heading on a free-kick that Dan Bond, missed by a whisker.
Bond wasn’t to be denied long, In 12 minutes Jon Clements broke down the left and crossed low and although he failed to make contact first time, Bond jabbed his effort over the line at the second attempt for a 1-0 lead.
The dangerous Campbell outpaced McGrandles as Berko responded immediately, but keeper Charlie May did well to force the home forward wide and the chance of a quick equaliser was lost.
On 20 minutes it was 2-0 with a memorable solo goal from big forward Ashley Kersey.
Jon Sexton’s ball from the back sent Kersey racing from half-way. His strength held off a challenge as he broke into the area and then he judged his shot perfectly to place it past keeper Tasker, into the far corner.
There then followed a remarkable 10 minute spell that was as spectacular for WGC, as it was disastrous for the home team.
Unlikely hero Paul Marks, retained as defensive midfielder in the line-up, scored twice in seven minutes to put the game well beyond Berkhamsted.
From a left-wing corner, Berko failed to clear, it dropped for Marks, who rammed in his effort in similar fashion to the goal he had scored to win the Charity Shield tie three days earlier.
On 29 minutes, Marks got above the home defence to head goalward. Tasker and his defence got in a terrible tangle trying to clear and the ball dropped between them all and over the line, for the Marks’ third goal in two games.
Berkhamsted rallied at the start of the second-half and Campbell twice brought sharp saves out of keeper May in the opening minutes, but WGC weathered that early storm and had the better chances to score a fifth in the closing stages.
Jon Clements was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. One deft lob from distance struck the home crossbar and then a 30 yard free-kick struck powerfully, saw keeper Tasker save spectacularly with his legs.
In the game’s last five minutes, substitute Josh Bronti had a golden chance to make it five, charging down a clearance and racing clear through, but he hesitated and his effort was blocked out.
It scarcely mattered. WGC had won the game long before and with the victory, replaced their vanquished hosts on top of the table, still with three games in hand over the West Herts outfit.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Corran, McGrandles, Sexton, Marks (Mensah 71), Payne, Spaul, Bond (Bronti 61), Kersey (Joy 77), Clements.