WELWYN GC bowed out of the FA Trophy on their first visit to Bostik League side Chipstead, in a classic game of two halves.
Adam Fisher’s side dominated the opening 45 minutes and should turned around more than a goal to the good – that thanks to a 38th minute Jon Clements penalty.
The reason that their interval lead wasn’t more emphatic, was largely down to an outstanding goalkeeping display from the home side’s Oliver Pain, who pulled off three outstanding saves during the 90 minutes.
But once the Surrey hosts equalised five minutes after the restart, the momentum in the game swung decisively in the home side’s favour and in the end, two almost carbon-copy goals took them through.
WGC responded immediately to Fisher’s strong pre-match team talk, after four successive Southern League defeats and tore into Chipstead from the early minutes.
Josh Bronti brought an immediate save from Pain, having been put through by Adam Hunt and then Clements retrieved a ball on the by-line to set up Nick Elliott, to fire powerfully over the home bar, all in the first five minutes.
Pain was soon in action again with another sharp stop from Bronti after Elliott provided the telling pass.
But just before the half-hour, WGC were struck a blow, when recent signing Kaan Fehmi fell heavily in an aerial challenge with Chipstead defender Nathan Ayling.
Fehmi was stretchered off in 28 minutes to be replaced by Ashley Kersey.
He was later taken to hospital, where it was diagnosed that he had broken his left forearm.
Kersey made an immediate impact, latching onto a Tony Williams lay-off to drive in WGC’s best effort so far, only to see Pain pull off a fine save.
Then seven minutes from the break, WGC took a deserved lead. Jon Sexton played Elliott through. As he beat a couple of challenges, he was tripped and stumbled over in the area. Clements supplied an emphatic spot-kick for 1-0.
Four minutes later, the Citizens could have doubled their lead. Kersey showed his strength to burrow through and get in another powerful effort, but again Pain foiled him, tipping it around in great style.
The second-half was a different story. It was Chipstead who made the strong start and were rewarded in five minutes.
They exploited WGC’s defensive weakness down the left, full-back Mark Warren chipping the ball over a committed Sexton to find winger Sam Bell. He drove it across goal and Izzy Bademosi fired past keeper Dan Green from close in.
WGC could have restored their lead within six minutes, but for an outstanding stop from Pain who denied Bronti’s well struck effort with the save of the match.
That was as good as it got for the visitors. Chipstead dominated the final half-hour in their search for a winner, which came on 67 miniutes with an almost identical goal to their first.
This time playmaker Sam Clayton drew Sexton out and found Bell with his chip over the top. The winger again crossed in low and again, Bademosi got in front of the WGC defence, to beat Green from even closer range than before.
WGC introduced teenage loan signing Ionut Radu for the last 25 minutes and the Borehamwood youngster showed up very well with his sharp tackling and distribution, in one of the few highlights for the WGC side on a disappointing day.
WGC: Green, Hunt, Rolfe, Corran, Sexton, Elliott, Spaul, Williams (Radu 66), Bronti (Oyeniran 82), Clements, Fehmi (Kersey 28).