WELWYN GC enjoyed every aspect of the Bromsgrove experience, except for the final result.
Playing at a typical old Southern League ground, in front of a near 1,000 crowd – the largest attendance a WGC side have played in front of in recent history – Adam Fisher’s side defended heroically for just over an hour in this Southern League Div 1 Central top end clash.
But once they fell behind in 67 minutes, through a moment of slackness, there looked to be only one winner of this exciting clash.
For Bromsgrove are a club on the rise.
Winners of six promotions in nine seasons since their re-formation from the ashes of a once-proud former Conference club, the Worcestershire outfit purely see this standard as a stepping-stone to a rise to former glories.
Even at this early stage in the Southern League season, Sporting would look to be one of the contenders for promotion, going joint top of the division with this hard-won victory.
WGC’s keeper Dan Green and his back four repelled the best Bromsgrove had for 67 minutes, while Nick Elliott, again the Citizens’s outstanding performer on the day, battled manfully in midfield throughout the 90 minutes.
However, further upfront, WGC didn’t have the firepower to really trouble the home side, although the Herns Lane side astonishingly missed one of the best chances of this, or any other game, in stoppage time.
WGC negotiated the opening 25 minutes without undue concern, although Bromsgrove’s twin, teenage wingers Charlie Dowd and Will Sharrock, looked a constant threat.
The Citizens survived great clamour for a home penalty in 22 minutes, when Sharrock went down under challenge from Adam Hunt, but referee Cooke waved appeals away.
WGC were struck a major blow when they lost skipper Danny Payne close to the half-hour with a hamstring injury.
Tatenda Makoni, who formerly played in the club’s under 25s and has just re-joined WGC, was the surprise replacement, but added strength and power in the midfield.
With Lee Close particularly prominent, the Citizens’ defence continued to repel Bromsgrove’s attacks, keeper Green getting a fine block on an Ashanti Price effort to deflect it just wide in the closest call, four minutes from half-time.
Green was called on twice in the early minutes of the second-half to make saves with his legs and feet to keep out Dowd and Price, before Jay Rolfe made a tremendous 50 yard run from his own half before placing a shot for the top corner, that home keeper Brown had to tip over, in WGC’s best attacking highlight, in 56 minutes.
Then in 67 minutes, the visitors’ defence fell asleep to a right-wing Bromsgrove corner. The home side played it short, WGC’s defence was caught napping when Sharrock crossed and defender Nathan Hayward was left unmarked to head past Green from short range.
Manager Fisher immediately threw on new signing Sam Oyeniran for Josh Bronti as WGC went onto the attack.
With 15 minutes to go, Makoni won a good challenge in midfield, passed on to Jon Clements, who in turn, found new striker Kann Femhi, who had had a quiet time of it. He produced a good, rising strike that Brown pushed around at full length.
Fisher then introduced George Ironton for earlier substitute Makoni, but the move only heralded a second Bromsgrove goal, as another corner dropped to striker Richard Gregory in the area. He cleverly avoided a challenge before crashing his effort past Green, again from a couple of yards.
WGC responded with a slick move started by Hunt. He found Fehmi, but the striker delayed his pass and when the ball reached Ironton, his effort was fired over the bar, from a tight angle.
But as the game entered stoppage time, Ironton did much better with a fine solo run along the Bromsgrove by-line, leaving several defenders trailing.
Ironton crossed over the face of goal, Oyeniran stopped it on the goalline, but couldn’t touch it in from no more than a foot out and full-back Roberts eventually cleared what was an astonishing miss, in the game’s final minute.
WGC: Green, Hunt, Corran, Close, Rolfe, Payne (Makoni 29, Ironton 76), Elliott, Fehmi, Spaul, Clements, Bronti (Oyeniran 76).