WELWYN GC suffered their first league defeat under Dean Barker’s management, when they took something of a second-half battering from promotion seeking Corby Town, in this twice postponed fixture.
It was third time lucky for the ambitious Northants club, after their first two intended visits to the BP Mitchell Stadium had been foiled by firstly a waterlogged pitch and then a heavy snowfall an hour before the second scheduled meeting in late December.
But for the first 40 minutes of this seven goal thriller, Corby were rocked on their heels by a real show of attacking flair from Barker’s side, as they stung their visitors with a two goal lead in the opening 20 minutes.
The Herns Lane boss picked an attacking line-up that saw new striker Elliot Bailey make his home debut along with recently recruited winger David Manu.
And in the short term it worked, as WGC tore into the opposition.
After new full-back Dan Carr had the home crowd on its feet with a superb tackle to foil Corby’s Bradley Fortnum-Tomlinson in the opening minutes, WGC went down the other end to stun Corby,
Again the impressive Carr raced through in attack and brought a partial save from Corby keeper Dan George. He couldn’t hold the effort and Bailey was in quickly to slot home his first goal for the club in 13 minutes.
Matty Campbell-Mhlope volleyed just wide minutes later before WGC doubled their advantage on 19 minutes, skipper Dave Keenleyside
floating in a free-kick that Bailey met with a powerful, flicked header beyond George for a 2-0 lead.
Corby were clearly shocked, although their top scorer Elliot Sandy did make one fine run past Carr and Charlie Pattison, only to be foiled by Lewis Todd’s fine save.
Then four minutes from half-time, the visitors found a way back into the game with a scrappy goal. A bout of head tennis saw the WGC defence fail to clear danger from the left. Sandy got in a downward header that deflected off WGC defender Jon Sexton to beat Todd, for a 2-1 WGC lead at half-time.
Three minutes after the restart, Corby were on terms with a freakish equaliser from a cross on the run from Fortnum-Tomlinson, from way out on the left. It cleared Todd, off his line and dropped in behind the keeper for a crucial equaliser.
Corby scented blood and victory from this point and WGC’s youthful, but inexperienced defence, lacking the presence of the unavailable Jay Rolfe, felt apart in the middle of the half.
Corby scored three times in seven minutes at this stage, to turn their fortunes completely around and run out convincing winners.
Firstly, substitute Crawford whipped in a swerving, low effort, that Todd half stopped, but couldn’t hold and Corby’s Steve Diggin smuggled it over the line in the ensuing scramble on 66 minutes.
Five minutes later, powerful central defender Delroy Gordon got in a header from one of a succession of Corby corners that hit the WGC bar, when it bounced down, Sandy stabbed in his second of the game for a 4-2 lead.
Two minutes later, good Corby build-up set up the chance for substitute Joel Carta to sweep an accurate low effort beyond Todd to complete the visitors’ nap hand.
Welwyn GC were shell-shocked and in disarray and all their impressive, flowing football of the opening half-hour was now a faint memory.
But for the final quarter they re-grouped and prevented any further damage, even creating a free-kick opportunity from which Keenleyside struck a good effort that brought a flying save from keeper George.
But they were well beaten in the end and new boss Barker will have learned that his side has a considerable way to go, when they are pitted against the top sides in the division.
WGC: Todd, Carr, Agyaakwah, Ebengo, Sexton (Omrore 77), Keenleyside, Pattison, Bailey, Campbell-Mhlope (Alomenu 75), Da Silva, Manu (Griffith 86).