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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

CRAIG Arnott gave his best individual performance in a WGC shirt, to inspire the side into the preliminary round of the FA Cup, making two and scoring one of the Citizens' goals that defeated spirited Haverhill Boro of the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Div 1.


Arnott restored to the side, having been on the bench for WGC's opening pair of games - an emphatic win and a heavy defeat - clearly had a point to prove and boss Adam Fisher will clearly want him in his side, on this display.


The former Colchester United pro, who has now scored four in WGC's three matches, proved the difference in this tie, the first of a double header between the Citizens and their West Suffolk opponents.


By quirk of fate, the sides meet again, also at Herns Lane, in three weeks' time in the opening tie in this season's FA Vase.


WGC began in altogether better fashion in this game than in their heavy midweek home defeat by London Colney, although, admittedly Haverhill Boro are not as strong a side as last season's SSML runners-up.


After Jason Caswell headed a Jay Welsh corner over the bar in the 12th minute and Arnott had driven a low shot wide of the target, after a fine run by Josh Bronti, it was Caswell and Arnott who combined to give WGC a 24th minute lead, Arnott producing a slide-rule, defence-splitting pass that put Caswell in to tip his effort past Haverhill keeper Smith for 1-0.


WGC lost skipper Daryl Smith with a knee injury 10 minutes later, Mason Bush replacing him before keeper Joe Croft was brought to a full length save, pushing away Danny Shipton's fierce 25 yard drive, to preserve the home lead.


Five minutes later WGC almost had two. Again Bronti made a strong run down the right, cut back his pass into the path of Bush, who crashed a shot goalward, only for Smith to turn the effort onto a post and out for a corner.


The visitors brought on substitute Ben Bradley for the second-half and he had the half' opening effort, bringing another save from Croft, as Haverhill showed they were still firmly in the tie.


This was confirmed on 57 minutes, when they fashioned an equaliser. Left-winger Matt Staines showed neat control before slipping a through ball to fellow winger Harry Halls who fired past Croft for 1-1.


At this point, the Suffolk side threatened to take over the tie, although another Bronti run saw neither the WGC winger nor striker Ashley Kersey able to turn in a short range chance.


Then on 70 minutes, Haverhill Boro were reduced to 10 men, when keeper Smith clattered into Ashley Kersey, as the WGC striker tried to control a bouncing ball. The offence was clearly way outside the penalty area, but referee Mackay ajudged it a straight red card and sent the keeper off. After lengthy treatment, Kersey took no further part in the game, replaced by WGC newcomer Dave Parkinson.


Haverhill sacrificed a defender and brought on reserve keeper Turner and the dismissal proved a turning point in the game.


Within minutes, WGC were ahead again, a Bronti cross from the right saw Arnott collect and despatch a neat volley past the replacement keeper into the corner, for 2-1.


Parkinson's pace created the chance for a third, sending Bronti through, but Turner made a good block. But the substitute keeper could do nothing, when Arnott slipped a challenge wide on the right and produced another exquisite, inch-perfect pass to put Parkinson in the clear.


The winger raced clear, before striking a shot that beat keeper Turner, struck the far post and rebounded into the net, to take WGC to another home tie against Waltham Abbey of the Ryman League Div 1 in the preliminary round, on August 29.


WGC: Croft, Perrin, Mensah, Boodhoo, Welsh, Cifuentes, Smith (Bush 37), Arnott (Cato 86), Bronti, Kersey (Parkinson 72), Caswell.

Welwyn Garden City FC 3 - 1 Haverhill Borough