IT had to happen.
Just three days after clinching the SSML Premier title for only the second time in the club’s history and having been beaten in the league just once this season, WGC succumbed to a second defeat at the hands of a currently rampant Hadley side, at Arkley on Tuesday.
And just as a controversial late penalty earned the Citizens a 2-1 home win over Wembley on Saturday, then another disputed spot-kick award gave Hadley the impetus to go on and win this one.
There seemed little danger when keeper Charlie May safely clutched a cross from the left just past the hour. But assistant Mr Coe waved his flag furiously to attract referee Baker’s attention to point out that WGC’s Jon Sexton had pushed over an opponent in the build-up.
The referee awarded the spot-kick on advice and Hadley’s Jeff Idemudia rammed in the penalty for his second of the game.
It had been Idemudia who had taken advantage of another Sexton error four minutes from half-time, to bring Hadley level.
Keeper May played a somewhat ill-advised short pass to Sexton, who in return, played an even worse return ball intended for his keeper that went straight to Idemudia. He shot past May to see the ball bounce off the far post into the net for 1-1.
WGC had never looked on top form at any time in the game, despite the return of both Jay Rolfe and Ben Spaul, who had both been unavailable for Saturday’s win over Wembley.
Perhaps, understandably, with the title won, the side’s performance lacked an edge and after eight games in two weeks, they also looked a little jaded.
But there was nothing jaded about the quality of the Charlie Joy free-kick that gave them a 23rd minute lead.
It was a peach of an effort from the winger, chosen to start this game.
He flighted his kick perfectly over the Hadley defensive wall and beyond the reach of home keeper Ben Goode, for a fine, opening goal.
There was great clamour from the WGC bench and the large contingent of Herns Lane supporters for a penalty in 38 minutes, when keeper Goode clearly seemed to pull John McGrandles – up for a set piece – to the ground with him, when clearing the corner. Their pleas went unheeded by Mr Baker.
McGrandles had earlier had a strong header from another set piece cleared off the line by Hadley defender Alfie Bartram.
But once 2-1 up, it was Hadley who looked the more likely to get a clinching goal than WGC an equaliser.
Both central defenders had major escapes, firstly Dave Corran when he misplaced a pass to Hadley’s Jake King, who raced clear only to bring a fine save out of May, who held on impressively, on 77 minutes.
Four minutes later, McGrandles appeared to tread on the ball and let Emmanuel Hammond in, but he shot a golden chance to seal victory over the bar.
WGC were incensed shortly afterwards, when substitute Tyler Hatherly, Saturday’s match-winning hero, slipped inside full-back Rhys Shirley-
Clarke and seemed to have his legs taken from under him. Again, Herns Lane appeals for a penalty went unheeded by Mr Baker.
Then with six minutes left, Hammond was left unguarded on the back post to hit a stunning volley past May from a left-wing free-kick and WGC’s fate – on a disappointing evening – was sealed.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Corran, McGrandles, Sexton (Boodhoo 73), Marks (Hatherly 60), Spaul, Ironton, Bronti, Clements, Joy (Bond 60).