THIS Herts Senior Cup exit was WGC’s sixth defeat out of the last seven games, but the BP Mitchell Stadium faithful left feeling better than for weeks after a vastly improved performance.
Manager Adam Fisher addressed his side’s current mini slump by bringing fresh blood to the club earlier in the week with the signing of striker Stuart Zanone, while versatile left-sided player Sean Brettell, returned to the club he served for four seasons, from Baldock Town.
In addition, Fisher gave a first-team debut to Billy Bishop-Hodgkins, 17, from WGC’s successful youth set-up.
Zanone, is a proven goalscorer and set records in Kentish football, while with Ashford United. In recent seasons, he has played for Cheshunt and most recently Takeley FC in the Essex Senior League.
His sheer physical presence, pace and power added a great deal to a shot-shy WGC attack that has struggled for goals since the season’s start.
Most neutral observers would agree that WGC were unlikely to lose this first round tie, particularly after dominating the opening half.
They kept Stortford keeper Patrick Ohman busy with two efforts from Josh Bronti early on and then the Stortford man had to make a very sharp block with his legs, as Jon Clements broke through.
Ten minutes from the interval, in a half dominated by the home team, WGC hit the bar, when a fine cross-field ball from Jay Rolfe put Bronti away down the right. From his cross, Zanone’s header reared up over Ohman, only to hit the woodwork and bounce out.
Zanone struck a fearsome 20 yard free-kick narrowly wide moments later, so it was something of a traversty, that in the last attack of the half, the Bostik League Premier side took the lead.
Full-back Chris Gregan hit a dipping effort that bounced up over keeper Dan Green to give Stortford an underserved, interval lead.
The visitors were better from the start of the half, but again WGC had their chances, Nick Elliott stinging Ohman’s palms with a strong shot, having been set up by Clements.
On 63 minutes, the Citizens got their reward, more good work by substitute Brettell and Clements down the left, resulted in a low cross, that Zanone struck past the keeper for a deserved, debut goal.
But WGC were only terms for 10 minutes. The Bishops struck down the right flank, a low cross eluded the home defence and Stortford substitute Ryan Charles placed a low effort beyond Green to restore his side’s lead.
Clements responded with a 30 yard dipper towards an unguarded goal, eight minutes from the end, after Ohman had been drawn out by Zanone, but the spectacular effort was inches wide and with it, went WGC’s hopes in the senior county competition.
WGC: Green, Rolfe, Close (Holmes 46), Corran, Sexton (Kersey 77), Spaul, Bishop-Hodgkins (Brettell 58), Elliott, Bronti, Zanone, Clements.