WELWYN GC scored their most emphatic home win this season and renewed hope that they can finish the season with a flourish with their best display for weeks, in this demolition of Luton’s Crawley Green.
When the sides met just seven weeks earlier at Barton Rovers, it produced the Citizens’ only goalless league draw of the season, but from the early minutes here there was never a chance of a repeat result.
WGC were three up inside 17 minutes and from that point the game was effectively won, although their visitors never gave up and forced restored keeper Jack Metcalfe in the home goal, to a couple of decent saves.
The win was the first time WGC have scored five since December and was their biggest winning margin since the 9-2 crushing of Colney Heath away, way back in October.
Boss Adam Fisher had a trio of players – Yasin Boodhoo, Ashley Kersey and Josh Bronti – all unavailable and George Brinkman beginning a three match ban. Young players Will McClelland and Reggie Ross were brought into the starting line-up alongside newcomer Tatenda Makoni.
WGC made a furious start. In seven minutes they were ahead. Ben Long spread the ball out to Marcus Campbell, who crossed low and found Ross. The young winger couldn’t dig out his shot, but Long showed the way, latching onto the loose ball and despatching it past Crawley Green replacement keeper Brandon Pickard and into the bottom corner for 1-0.
Three minutes later the lead was doubled. Campbell was again the provider with a good ball forward and Ross latched onto it and lifted a fine effort over Pickard, for his first goal on returning to the club from Codicote.
WGC also hit the woodwork when Ross, making a sharp start, laid the ball back into the path of raiding full-back Paul Morris, whose low 20 yarder beat Pickard, but came back out off the foot of the post.
The third goal wasn’t long in coming. Danny Payne hit a long range free-kick out to Campbell, who stepped inside a challenge and struck another powerful low shot that beat Pickard, hit the bottom of the post and this time rebounded in, for 3-0.
Crawley Green tried to respond immediately, forward Terry Billy burrowing along the by-line before Metcalfe pushed his goalbound effort around.
WGC hit the woodwork a second time on 37 minutes, skipper Payne cleverly peeling off a group of players reaching a Jason Coughlan free-kick, to loft a header over Pickard, only to see it hit the bar on its way over.
A sharp save from Pickard with his legs prevented a second Campbell goal, when the striker struck another strong effort on the stroke of the interval.
WGC introduced Yasin Rashid for the second-half, replacing the injured Luke Robins and 10 minutes into the second period, Reggie Ross had to be helped off, Craig Arnott replacing him.
It was Arnott who supplied WGC’s fourth 20 minutes into the half, Makoni and Long did the spadework, but when the midfielders were held up, Arnott collected and cleverly made space to drive another low effort beyond Pickard.
New signing Makoni was the second player to be helped off moments later, allowing Charlie Rome the last 15 minutes.
Impressive teenager McClelland showed great strength in getting in a vital block to prevent Crawley Green substitute Sadiq Thompson giving his side any reward five minutes from time, before Taishan Griffith made a fine run from deep to send Rashid through, but the substitute was forced out as he homed in on goal.
As the game entered stoppage time, WGC completed their nap hand from the penalty spot. Arnott lofted in another high ball that Long rose to, only for keeper Pickard to miss the ball with his punch and connect with the WGC midfielder’s head to floor him.
Referee Bodell immediately pointed to the spot and skipper Payne stepped up to slot home an impressive penalty – his first goal for the club in his 77th first-team appearance!
WGC: Metcalfe, Griffith, McClelland, Payne, Morris, Coughlan, Long, Makoni (Rome 75), Ross (Arnott 55), Campbell, Robins (Rashid 46).