WELWYN GC picked up their first league points since September 8, when a strong last half-hour performance saw them finally break down the resistance of bottom-of-the-table Kidlington.
The opening hour of this fixture was dull fayre, with the lowly Oxfordshire opposition, who only had a single victory going into the game, surprising the meagre BP Mitchell Stadium crowd with a display belying their position.
Kidlington, had appointed a new manager last week after their dreadful start and a summer of upheaval and drafted in seven new players for the game. It showed in a much improved performance.
WGC also had their share of new faces with new signing Danny May, brother of former keeper Charlie, drafted into midfield. May, a former professional with Northampton, had been signed from AFC Dunstable.
Stuart Zanone, who had made a scoring debut in midweek, after his move from Essex Senior Leaguers Takeley, continued upfront, while former player Sean Brettell, who has rejoined the Citizens from Baldock, was on the bench, alongside fit again George Ironton.
WGC still have Danny Payne and Dan Bond on the injury list and Lee Close and Jay Lovell, unavailable.
A sharp early move saw Zanone prominent, putting the lively Jon Clements in from a Jay Rolfe free-kick, but the visitors’ keeper and captain Sam Warrell snatched the ball off Clements’ toes.
On the quarter-hour, Kidlington had the closest call of a very dismal opening 45 minutes, new assistant boss Osbourne-Ricketts slanting over
a cross that Nick Thorne would have turned in, but for a sharp save from WGC’s Dan Green.
A miscued header by new boy May only found Kidlington’s Piers McGlynn, but he reprieved the WGC debutant, by bady miscuing over the bar.
May redeemed himself with a good free-kick that Rolfe met with a strong header, but Warrell pushed WGC’s best first-half effort away, with a full length save.
The game didn’t improved for the opening quarter of the second-half, by which time WGC had added Josh Bronti (groin strain) to their injury list. Brettell replaced him.
Then on 62 minutes, WGC produced their slickest move of the game. New central defender Ionut Radu – on loan from Borehamwood – produced a good ball along the by-line to Nick Elliott, who crossed in a fine ball. Zanone took it down and skillfully drove past Warrell for the opener.
This pepped up the Citizens and another May set-piece dropped for Clements, whose clever dink over the visiting defence was just inches over the bar.
WGC’s huge improvement was underlined by a second goal, seven minutes from time. Again there was good build-up as Clements outpaced two Kidlington defenders down the right and pulled back a cross that Elliott dispatched past Warrell, to seemingly seal the points.
Ashley Kersey had replaced Zanone for the final 15 minutes and he almost made it three as another good run by Clements saw Rolfe loft over a high cross that the big target man headed just over.
But WGC paid for a little complacency as the game reached its 90th minute.
Kidlington newcomer Declan Benjamin was allowed to waltz around a couple of defenders and fire past Green from close range, to reduce the victory margin to a single goal, moments from the end.
WGC: Green, Rolfe, Radu (Holmes 63), Corran, Sexton, May, Elliott, Spaul, Bronti (Brettell 46), Zanone (Kersey 77), Clements.