WELWYN GC extended their recent unbeaten run to six games and moved one place up the SSML Premier table to fifth place with this home victory over lowly Holmer Green, but for an hour of this game, it was the poorest they have played in recent times.
The opening half of the clash saw WGC give a listless performance, scarcely able to put a pass together and in the opening 45 minutes, they didn’t threaten the Holmer Green goal once.
In contrast, their Bucks visitors were altogether sharper all round and the fact that Adam Fisher’s side turned around on level terms was largely due to a large slice of luck when the visitors hit the WGC woodwork and a fine save from Herns Lane keeper Jack Metcalfe in the first-half’s final minute.
Manager Fisher tweaked things at half-time, bringing on Jay Welsh to stiffen his defence, which the left-back, playing out of position in central defence, did excellently, while the introduction of Josh Bronti, also pepped up things upfront.
The opening stages were poor fayre. There was a glimmer of a chance for the in-form Marcus Campbell in 11 minutes, but the striker dithered over his final shot and was blocked out.
At the other end, Holmer Green’s Elliott Derby threatened, but the combined efforts of Jason Coughlan and Danny Payne managed to snuff out the danger.
And that really was it for the opening 35 minutes, until Holmer Green came within an ace of taking the lead, good combination down the right saw the visitors’ skipper Gary Lines set up for a shot that crashed past Metcalfe, only to see the effort hit WGC’s crossbar and bounce back into the grateful keeper’s arms!
On the stroke of the interval, WGC conceded a free-kick on the edge of their area. Derby arrowed it for the corner, but Metcalfe flew across his goal to push it away impressively, to keep the Herns Lane side on terms.
Welsh replaced the injured Coughlan after the break and Bronti came on for an out-of-sorts Luke Robins.
Substitute Welsh was straight into the action, denying an effort from the visitors’ Martyn Lancaster with a fine clearance, before chipping in WGC’s best effort to date, that brought visiting keeper Sam Butcher to his first action of the game, flipping the effort over the crossbar.
Then on 59 minutes, WGC were ahead. They forced a couple of corners on the right and from the second, a pinpoint flag kick from George Brinkman, Daril Ngwala stooped to net a downward header past Butcher on his near post, for a lead that the Citizens didn’t really deserve.
But the goal galvanised WGC and from that point they played their best football, in the final half-hour.
They had to survive a scare when Holmer Green forward Jake Plumridge-Dell created a chance for substitute Jonty Summerell to fire past the far post, while Brinkman had to get a Dan Hunt close-in header, off the goalline.
But in the closing minutes, Danny Payne found Ben Long and he put Campbell in with a good chance of a WGC second, but the visitors’ Jamie Burrell got in a goal-saving challenge to foil the move.
But Campbell wasn’t denied for long, Three minutes into stoppage time, Welsh got in a vital clearance that found fellow sub Bronti, who put Campbell away on halfway.
He shook off a challenge. Keeper Butcher came out to meet him, but the WGC striker neatly avoided him and ran clear to run the ball into an empty net - for his fourth goal in the last three games – and to secure the points.
WGC: Metcalfe, Griffith, Coughlan (Welsh 46), Payne, Morris, Brinkman, Long, Brettell, Ngwala (Coxall 83), Campbell, Robins (Bronti 46).