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Welwyn Garden City FC

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

The BP Mitchell Stadium, Herns Lane, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL7 1TA

WGC's recent mini run of success that has brought them four wins and a draw from their last five outings - two of those victories taking them to cup finals - came to an end at the hands of old rivals Hadley.


For their Potters Bar-based visitors, it was a measure of revenge for the semi-final defeat inflicted by the Citizens on their own ground, that took Adam Fisher's side to the SSML Premier Cup final.


But this was a strange game, in that WGC could have just as easily won the clash by a similar score as lose it, so many chances were created by both sides.


WGC were without regular keeper Joe Croft, full-back Jay Lovell and forward Jason Caswell for this one. New keeper Kieran Clayton, Sam Perrin, Joe Price and the returned Luke Robins, were drafted in.


The Citizens made the livelier start and Dave Parkinson forced Hadley keeper Charlie Mann to stretch to hold an early cross-shot, while on 16 minutes, after Josh Bronti and Perrin combined, skipper Daryl Smith hit a fierce 30 yarder just over.


But it was Hadley who took a 24th minute lead, when Parkinson was caught in possession to the right of his own area. The ball was quickly switched to the middle, where Hadley's Brice Gangadeen set up teammate Laste Dombaxe who hit a fine rising effort beyond Clayton into the top of the net.


The visitors led for just three minutes, WGC capitalising on an underhit backpass from Hadley full-back Gideon Okito that was short of keeper Mann. Parkinson went into a challenge with the keeper and emerged with the ball, which he rolled over the goalline for 1-1.


Clayton did well to deflect an Obito effort over and Ashley Kersey turned well on a loose ball to fire just a post, as the sides remained level at the break.


Hadley started the second-half in much better fashion and four minutes in, the constantly dangerous Ivan Machado rose to a left-wing corner to plant a fine header against the crossbar with keeper Clayton beaten.


The visitors restored their lead on 57 minutes, when WGC conceded a somewhat needless penalty, John McGrandles pushing Machado in the back with the Hadley striker heading away from goal. Referee Mark Pond pointed to the spot and Elias Moses duly obliged.


Three minutes later WGC almost equalised when Kersey met a Jay Welsh corner with a fine header that beat Mann, but Okito cleared spectacularly off the line. WGC players appealed that the effort had crossed, but Mr Pond waved play on.


Moments later another effort this time from Robins suffered the same fate, as it was cleared from an unguarded goal, but it didn't seem as close a call as Kersey's moments before.


As if to confirm that this wasn't going to be WGC's half, Hadley stretched their lead with a highly fortunate third goal. Moses and substitute Hasham Benmansour worked the ball down the WGC left, before the sub struck an effort into the goalmouth.


The ball struck the near post and rebounded straight into the luckless McGrandles' face, from where it ricocheted into the net.


Back came WGC and Parkinson peeled off from the pack to glance another Welsh corner off the Hadley bar, as the Citizens showed they weren't out of the game yet.


Manager Fisher sacrificed both his full-back to bring on attacking midfielders Craig Arnott and Nathan Dimmock and went to just three defenders.


That allowed Machado chance to bring Clayton to a sharp save to keep the deficit at two, before Price and Parkinson combined to set up Bronti at the other end, but Hadley keeper Mann made a good stop with his feet.


And so it continued to the end, Clayton making two more good saves to foil the dangerous Machado, while Mann made an outstanding double stop to foil Robins when he got clear down the WGC left, to ensure that the status quo was maintained until the final whistle.


WGC: Clayton, Perrin (Arnott 70), Boodhoo, McGrandles, Welsh (Dimmock 70), Price, Smith (Mensah 56), Parkinson, Bronti, Kersey, Robins.


* WGC Res were beaten 2-1 at St Margaretsbury Res, by a last minute winning goal. Nathan Studholme had given the Herns Lane second string the lead, in the fixture.

Welwyn Garden City FC 1 - 3 Hadley