WELWYN GC exited the CSS Southern League Cup at the last 16 stage, after losing a penalty shoot-out with county rivals Berkhamsted.
It was the Citizens’ first shoot-out in two seasons and Adam Fisher’s side showed a fallibility from the spot, as home side Berko netted all four of their efforts, while WGC missed twice.
Stuart Zanone saw his effort rebound off the home crossbar and bounce out, while Danny May’s misplaced effort was turned around by keeper Coman-Leon, to see the Herns Lane side out of the competition.
It was always a hard fought cup-tie, but one that was lacking in goalmouth incident.
Berkhamsted went nearest to winning it in regulation time, when 10 minutes into the second-half, winger Adiel Mannion saw his effort strike a WGC post, but there was little to choose between the sides in fourth and sixth place in the Southern League’s Div 1 Central.
Manager Fisher rang the changes from the side that had won a thriller at Kempston three days earlier, 3-2.
May, Andrew Iwediuno, Jon Sexton, Ashley Kersey and Dan Bond were all brought into the side. Regulars, Danny Payne, Dave Corran, Ben Spaul and strikers’ Zanone and Jon Clements were rested on the bench.
Iwediuno was in trouble in 10 minutes, when Berko’s Louis Austin sped past him, but Sexton rescued the situation with a finely judged tackle.
Keeper Dan Green wasn’t extended until the half-hour mark, when Berko’s top scorer Matt Bateman shrugged off a challenge and fired in from a tight angle, Green turning the effort around in some style.
Charlie Smith moved forward to midfield for this game, hit WGC’s best effort of the first 45 minutes, but it was straight at keeper Coman-Leon.
The second-half produced improved fayre. Berko made a strong start with Mannion hitting the post, but Nick Elliott, captaining the WGC side, replied, with his powerful shot just off target.
Manager Fisher brought on Zanone and Clements in the last half-hour to help his side find the solitary goal that was clearly going to decide this tight tie.
Zanone was played in by a clever ball from Elliott, but Coman-Leon was quickly off his line to block with his body, before Bateman screwed the home side’s best late chance wide.
We could all have been spared the penalties decider, had Elliott been more accurate with a very late chance, created by Sexton’s excellent interception.
WGC: Green, Rolfe, Close, Iwediuno, Sexton, May, Elliott, Keenleyside, Smith, Kersey (Zanone 57), Bond (Clements 72).