WELWYN GC were given an object lesson in finishing by relegation-threatened Hadley on the Citizens’ first visit to Brickfield Lane, in their penultimate game of the 2016-17 campaign.
With this victory, the Arkley-based side secured their SSML Premier Division future for next season, provoking wild celebrations at the end of the game and took fourth spot out of WGC’s hands.
With a surprise victory for current fourth placed Wembley at new champions London Colney and Tring’s 2-1 home victory over Luton’s Crawley Green, Adam Fisher’s side look destined to finish sixth in their second SSML Premier season.
Herns Lane keeper Ollie Leslie didn’t have a direct save to make in the whole 90 minutes, but yet, WGC found themselves 3-0 at the break, as Hadley clinically finished their chances, while the Citizens squandered the best of theirs.
Hadley were quicker out of the blocks all afternoon and after central defender Sean Beesley had the first effort of the game, the home side were ahead in eight minutes,
Keeper Leslie seemed to have stemmed the danger diving at Ivan Machado’s feet, but Hadley’s David Martinez somehow managed to lift an effort over the fallen keeper and into the far side of the net, from a very actute angle, in eight minutes.
WGC responded with young defender Will McClelland winning a good header from a Jay Welsh free-kick and a knock it down for Craig Arnott, but the angle was too tight and Arnott’s effort found the side netting.
George Brinkman put another long-range effort just wide as WGC began to come into the game and on 26 minutes they came within an ace of equalising, when Josh Bronti was sent clean down the middle.
Home keeper Charlie Mann made a good save at his feet, but Arnott returned the ball straight back into the area, where Ashley Kersey struck an instant volley past Mann, but against the post and it bounced out to safety!
Two minutes later Kersey got a good header on to Arnott. He left it to the better placed Bronti, but he miskicked badly from almost in front of goal.
Moments later, as the Citizens totally dominated at this stage, Arnott produced a glorious through ball to put Kersey in the clear. Again Mann made another good stop at his feet and home skipper Tom Milton cleared for a corner.
Just as if to show WGC how to finish, Hadley promptly went downfield in the 39th minute, dangerous winger Ibrahim Lukalay picked up the ball on the edge of the area, struck a low shot past Leslie that hit the foot of the post and this time, rebounded in for 2-0.
A minute from the interval, a flowing Hadley move saw Laste Dombaxe find Sam Odusoga, who played Lukalay in again and he slotted his second into the far corner to seemingly put Hadley out of sight at the interval.
Manager Fisher made a double change on the restart of the second-half. Jason Coughlan came on and went into a back three alongside McClelland and Welsh, while Sean Brettell played on the left of a midfield quartet that now included Taishan Griffith and Danny Payne, both pushed forward.
For the opening 10-15 minutes of the half, the changes seemed to have sparked a response in the Citizens, as they dominated the opening stages. But when this spell brought no reward, WGC’s brief revival began to falter.
They did pull a goal back on 69 minutes that owed much to the enthusiastic Brettell challenging keeper Mann to Arnott’s lofted, high ball. The keeper punched away, but only to Kersey, who drove the rebound low past the stranded keeper into an unguarded net.
Moments later, Hadley were penalised for taking too long over a throw. Ben Long hurled it forward to set Marcus Campbell free. He got to the by-line, but pulled the inviting cross back behind Kersey and the chance was lost.
It proved to be WGC’s last serious attempt and the final quarter saw Hadley comfortably hold on to celebrate their preserved Premier status in some style at the final whistle.
WGC: Leslie, Griffith, McClelland, Payne, Welsh, Brinkman (Coughlan 46), Long, Arnott (Araba 87), Bronti (Brettell 46), Kersey, Campbell. Subs- Boodhoo, Croucher (both not used).