WELWYN GC lost interest in the FA Cup at the first hurdle, for the second season in succession, when they went down to a solitary goal defeat at Eastern Counties League Brantham in the preliminary round.
Last season it was North Greenford United who put the Citizens out at this stage, this time their Suffolk hosts saw it was another August disappointment for Adam Fisher’s side.
And yet in the opening 25 minutes of this tie, a WGC whitewash looked on the cards, as the Southern League new boys tore into their hosts and opened up the Brantham defence repeatedly.
But Brantham keeper Luke Avenell kept his side in the tie with a quartet of fine saves and once the Suffolk team had ridden the early storm, WGC never really found anything resembling top form again.
A slick WGC move ended with full-back Jon Sexton lofting a well aimed shot for the top corner in seven minutes, Avenell turned it over in good style.
Four minutes later, more good WGC approach work saw Brantham defender Sibbons clear behind at full stretch. From the resulting corner, a shooting chance again fell to a WGC defender – this time Jay Lovell – he also aimed for the top corner, again Avenell turned it over with a flying save.
And so it continued. More smart WGC build-up saw Dan Bond cleverly turn a pass into the path of Jon Clements, this time Avenell’s outstretched leg deflected the effort across the face of goal.
On 20 minutes, Avenell denied Clements a second time, rushing out to block with his legs again, after Adam Hunt had set up the chance.
But the one-way traffic began to cease after this and Brantham began to get a foothold in the game.
Home joint-manager Michael Brothers gave WGC a warning, when he outpaced skipper Danny Payne to go through, but shot wide from a good position.
Brothers was beginning to prove a menace to the Citizens and Jay Lovell picked up a booking in stopping him, before Newland pulled his shot wide from the resulting free-kick.
Brantham were now firmly back in the game, as the half neared its close and three minutes before the interval, they netted the game’s only goal.
Brett O’Connor gave away a loose pass that Brantham switched to winger Jack Madley. He cut it back into the path of oncoming midfielder Callum Hughes, who swept it under WGC keeper Dan Green’s dive on his near post.
WGC turned around really rattled by the late first-half goal and newcomer Tony Williams was introduced only 10 minutes into the second-half, Dan Bond making way.
On 58 minutes, WGC had the ball in the home net, Ben Spaul netting on the far post, but the effort was disallowed on an assistant’s flag for offside.
Jay Rolfe, surprising left on the bench, was introduced for the final 25 minutes for Lee Close, but the Citizens still couldn’t find the form of the opening 25 minutes.
In fact, it was Brantham who had the better chances, Newson and Bloomfield both pulling acceptable openings wide.
Rolfe got on the end of a Lovell long throw, only to see his goalbound effort deflected over the home bar and from a right-wing corner, Dave Corran, WGC’s best performer on a disappointing day, came forward to head past the upright in the side’s closest calls.
Then in injury time, Spaul again got on the end of a pass on the back post, to drive into the Brantham net, only for the effort to suffer the same fate as his effort of 30 minutes earlier – offside on an assistant’s flag!
WGC: Green, Hunt, Lovell, Corran, Sexton (Holmes 85), O’Connor, Payne, Close (Rolfe 65), Spaul, Clements, Bond (Williams 55).