WELWYN GC scraped a narrow victory to conclude their 2016-17 campaign and secure sixth spot in this season’s SSML Premier.
They did so despite having to play the last hour of their season with 10 men, midfielder George Brinkman earning a straight red card for a wild, reckless challenge on Broxbourne full-back Christian Anuygu.
But even though they earned full points despite this depletion, it was visitors Broxbourne Boro who were perhaps the moral victors here.
Relegated weeks ago and cast adrift by 17 points at the foot of the table, the East Herts club, promoted alongside WGC two seasons ago, have turned to youth in the closing months of the season.
They fielded seven members of their youth side that reached the last 16 of the FA Youth Cup before losing to Aston Villa earlier in the year and were far the slicker team here for long periods of this game.
The opening half was a very forgettable affair as WGC manager Adam Fisher made several changes to his line-up after the defeat at Hadley.
Jack Metcalfe was recalled in goal, Yasin Boodhoo to defence alongside Jay Welsh, WGC’s best player on the day,while skipper Danny Payne switched to midfield alongside Sean Brettell, who also returned.
Craig Arnott picked up a loose ball and hit a worthwhile 20 yarder just wide within three minutes of the start. Then Brettell flicked a header well wide from a fine Josh Bronti cross, as WGC made a promising start.
But that soon faded and Broxbourne set up a good chance for midfielder Charlie Ruff, but he struck it over.
WGC lost influential midfielder Ben Long on the half-hour, taken off with a suspected broken wrist after an accidental kick on the arm from full-back Anuygu. Long went to hospital for an X-ray during the half-time break.
George Brinkman replaced him, but only stayed on the field three minutes, before being dismissed for what manager Fisher described afterwards as: “a ridiculous, wild tackle.’’
Fisher brought on the returned Luke Robins and teenage midfielder Charlie Rome after the interval, replacing Arnott and full-back Paul Morris.
Payne dropped back alongside Boodhoo and Welsh in a back three and Brettell and Griffith switched sides, a move which saw Griffith particularly effective.
On 51 minutes, WGC were somewhat undeservingly ahead, when Ashley Kersey was pulled down on the edge of the Broxbourne area.
18-year-old Charlie Rome showed commendable maturity and technique, taking responsibility for the kick, clipping it over the defensive wall and into the far corner, leaving Broxbourne keeper Nugent static.
But the lead lasted barely a minute. Broxbourne made a quick break over halfway, winger Corey Stewart collected, slipped a couple of challenges and finished with a smart low shot beyond Metcalfe, for 1-1.
WGC were stunned and were lucky not to be behind five minutes later, Broxbourne’s Alie Bangura slipping Ruff through, only for Metcalfe to save the day with a very brave body block.
Rome almost had a second of the afternoon, when Griffith made an excellent run past several defenders down the left and pulled his cross back to young midfielder, whose fierce effort was just off target.
Robins, who was having less of an impact than his fellow sub, scorned another chance set up by Kersey, before WGC fashioned the winner 11 minutes from time.
Griffith worked the ball out to Bronti wide on the left. He flighted in a pinpoint cross onto the head of Kersey, who came through two Broxbourne defenders to head down and in, beyond keeper Nugent.
It was Herns Lane’s final goal of the season and secured sixth place.
*WGC may have had loftier ambitions when the season began, but finishes of fourth and sixth in two Premier division seasons after promotion, represent satisfactory campaigns.
WGC: Metcalfe, Griffith, Boodhoo, Welsh, Morris (Rome 46), Long (Brinkman 30), Payne, Arnott (Robins 46), Brettell, Bronti, Kersey. Subs – Campbell, Coughlan (both not used).