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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

ON the day he was confirmed as WGC's new skipper for this season, in succession to the retired Daryl Smith, new, powerful central defender Martin Standen was sent off three minutes from half-time in this Herts Charity Shield tie on Tuesday night.


Standen blatantly elbowed Hertford striker Mark Summers in an aerial challenge and referee Lee Grimsey had little option but to brandish a red, having booked the WGC defender earlier.


Standen, in fact, received a 'double red' as Mr Grimsey waved a second red at him as he pushed Hertford's combative, little midfielder, as the defender left the field.


But WGC were only at a man disadvantage for nine minutes of this hard fought, entertaining pipe-opener to the new season.


Six minutes into the second-half, Mr Grimsey judged Summers to have gone over the top in a very hefty challenge on WGC midfielder Danny Payne and showed him a straight red, making it a 10-a-side affair for the final 39 minutes.


In the end, these two highly fancied sides for SSML honours this season couldn't be separated in a very close encounter and it went to a penalty shoot-out.


WGC put away their opening four spot-kicks with aplomb, through Josh Bronti, Lewis Endacott, Jay Welsh and scorer James Ewington, but Hertford's second attempt from Ricky Light was skied over and their fourth kick from Phil Lowen well saved by WGC keeper Jack Metcalfe.


So it will be Adam Fisher's side who will travel to Berkhamsted in the quarter-finals, Berko having put out Baldock 3-2 in their tie.


A large crowd that packed Hertingfordbury Park saw WGC dominate the opening half-hour.


Ewington had a chance in the first 30 seconds, when put through by Ross Collins' fine through ball, but shot straight at home keeper Reece Buck.


Collins, himself, was just off target with a beautifully flighted free-kick just past the angle of the goal, as WGC were rewarded on 26 minutes, when Bronti was played through.


Keeper Buck beat away his shot, but the rebound came out to Ewington, who smashed home his seventh goal of pre-season, to send the large travelling WGC contingent delirious.


It could have been even better in the next couple of minutes. Collins cleverly lobbed a pass through that saw Ewington miscue when off balance and then the little striker then brought a stunning fingertip save from Buck that foiled a second goal.


From this point Hertford improved and Summers put a back post effort wide from a couple of yards from Sharman's long cross, in the home side's first real threat.


Two minutes later only a fine save with his legs by Metcalfe denied Summers again, as he broke through the WGC defence.


An equaliser looked very likely and it came on 37 minutes through the dangerous Summers, turning on a through ball to slam it wide of Metcalfe for 1-1.


Three minutes later Standen got his marching orders and manager Fisher immediately sacrificed Dave Parkinson to bring on an extra defender in Jay Welsh.


The second-half, with both sides down to 10 after Summers' dismissal, had fewer chances with the dangerous Hatherley, a target for WGC last season, flashing a 25 yarder just wide and putting a close-in chance, midway through the half, just wide.


WGC's best chance of preventing a penalty shoot-out came seven minutes from the end, when a long ball from the back sent Luke Robins racing clear. As he closed in on Buck's goal, he struck a fierce effort past the keeper, only to see it crash against the post as it deflected wide.


From that point, such a closely fought affair could only be settled from the spot.


WGC: Metcalfe, Power, Boodhoo, Standen, Endacott, Payne (Fitzgerald 80), Collins (Long 66), Robins, Bronti, Ewington, Parkinson (Welsh 42).

Hertford Town 1 - 1 Welwyn Garden City FC (WGC win 4-2 on pens)

Photos courtesy of Dave Fallon - Click on image to enlarge