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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

Herns Way, Panshanger, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL7 1TA

TWELVE months to the day, Welwyn GC also played Hadley in the first round of the Herts Charity Shield - as the pipe-opener to the new season - and lost 5-1 at home in Adam Fisher's first competitive game in charge.

 

Despite the nature of that reversal, Fisher's team went on to finish fourth in last season's SSML Div 1 and enjoy a run to the last 32 of the FA Vase.

 

So what to make of this result?

 

Fisher has kept all of last season's squad with the exception of talented central defender Simon Dahl, unavailable to play on Saturdays for work reasons, added four new faces to his line-up and they have a season's experience of teamwork and togetherness behind them.

 

Buoyed by a crowd of over 100 watching, the Citizens totally dominated their SSML Premier Division visitors from the early minutes in this repeat fixture, a good omen for the sides' second meeting in the FA Cup's extra preliminary round on Saturday week.

 

There was little doubt that the Hadley of 2014-15 are currently a side in transition. They appointed ex-Spurs and Chelsea midfielder Micky Hazard as new manager less than two months ago and he is clearly sorting out his side, very much as Fisher was a year ago.

 

And the ex-Spur was less than amused at this display, quipping to one WGC official when asked if he would make changes for the second meeting."Yes, 11 of them.''

 

WGC had three debutants in their starting line-up in new central defender Jack Dekanski, left-back Jay Lovell, back at the club after four seasons, having been with St Margaretsbury and Ware and midfielder Sam James, from Barton Rovers.

 

They bossed the game from the 12th minute, when Darryl Smith shrugged off Hadley's Munroe with a strong challenge and sped on down the middle of the visiting defence to place his shot wide of visiting keeper Mann for 1-0.

 

The visitors responded and a neat back-heel from Machedo set up Chrystanthou, whose on-target shot was beaten away by a fit-again Joe Croft, in the home goal.

 

A fine solo run by last season's 50 goal man Jason Caswell paved the way for WGC's second. He picked up in midfield, threaded his way past three challenges, but when his final shot was blocked, it rebounded obligingly for the in-coming James who lifted it past Mann for 2-0.

 

Hadley briefly came back in it six minutes from the break, Machedo making another strong left-wing run and setting up Dom Petrucci, who cleverly lobbed Croft, the effort dropping in behind the keeper.

 

But WGC restored their two goal advantage within two minutes. Awarded a free-kick 20 yards out, the in-form Sean Brettell, scorer of five goals in pre-season, struck his free-kick over Hadley's flimsy wall, for it to clip a post and beat keeper Mann's dive.

 

Hadley began the second-half with a flurry and Croft had to make a good save with his legs when Petrucci got free to drive in a fierce effort.

 

But just past the hour, WGC had built up a 4-1 lead. A Brettell free-kick pumped into the box was headed away from Caswell, but only to skipper Liam Kenna, up for the set-piece. He took it down and volleyed in an unstoppable effort for the fourth.

 

Manager Fisher made changes, bringing on Sam Perrin for the hard-working James and Noel Ortega-Morales, a Spanish midfielder for whom WGC have had to await international clearance.

 

Ortega-Morales showed his quality with a deep burrowing run into the heart of the Hadley defence seven minutes from the end before squaring across goal for Caswell to come in and sweep home the fifth.

 

There was still time for Hadley keeper Mann to make a fine full length save to push a Darryl Smith effort away from the bottom corner and an excellent body block from Perrin at the other end, to deny Hadley and substitute Pigden any further reward.

 

WGC: Croft, Jenner, Dekanski, Kenna, Lovell, James (Perrin 65), Smith, Stellon, Oppong (Ortega-Morales 72), Caswell, Brettell (Ross 85).

 

*WGC Res beat Amersham Town Res 5-2 on Saturday morning, in preparation for their season in the SSML's new South & East reserve division.

 

Dave Cockram scored a hat-trick, while Joel Norris, almost back to full fitness after a knee injury and Ade Osobu, scored the others.

Welwyn Garden City FC 5 - 1 Hadley