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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

Herns Way, Panshanger, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL7 1TA

WGC exited the Herts Charity Shield in a remarkable quarter-final tie at Leverstock Green, coming back from 4-1 down early in the second-half to level, only to lose a penalty shoot-out 4-3.

 

Shorn of seven players from their strongest line-up by a combination of suspensions and injury, Adam Fisher's side battling qualities brought them three goals in seven second-half minutes, after it looked as though they might be overrun in the early minutes of the second-half.

 

There was no indication of the drama to come in a rather sterile opening to the tie, Leverstock Green full-back Warner-Eley having the only acceptable chance, which he drove wide in four minutes.

 

But the Citizens shook themselves out of their lethargy on 27 minutes, when from a low Sean Brettell free-kick, skipper Liam Kenna turned a close-in effort home on the near post.

 

That settled the visitors and they were comfortably in control until a minute from the break, when they conceded a free-kick that Leverstock Green's outstanding forward Louis Bircham drove low past stand-in keeper Chris Benton, that slithered in under the WGC first-team coach, for a scarcely deserved equaliser.

 

Two minutes after the restart, the Hemel side were ahead, the quicksilver Bircham slipping Carl Costain in the area to poke his second past Benton for 2-1.

 

WGC responded and from Brettell's overlap and cross, Marc Arnott's close-in effort struck home defender Wright on the line and stayed out!

 

The home side went straight down the other end to make it 3-1, Bircham going around keeper Benton for his hat-trick goal.

 

Worse was to follow, Leverstock Green midfielder Ricky Dash justified his surname, breaking through an attempted WGC offside trap, to crash home a fourth with still half-an-hour to go.

 

But the Citizens responded immediately. Arnott was put through, but although he couldn't get a shot in, he managed to smuggle the ball to the far post, where Sam James provided the finish for 4-2.

 

Three minutes later, Brettell, WGC's best attacking threat, burst through to be brought down by home player-manager Gardner and got up to slot home the spot-kick himself for 4-3 and three minutes later, Brettell brought the side level with a deflected cross-shot from the left that nestled in the far corner.

 

WGC did net a fifth when Perry Stellon expertly finished Juan Cifunetes' clever chipped pass, but referee Loe ruled the effort out for offside.

 

Neither the final 15 minutes or extra time could provide a winner for either side, although Leverstock Green were reduced to nine men just before the end, having Elias Moses and James Sears both sent off for second yellow cards.

 

In the shoot-out, Brettell, Arnott and substitute Bradley Jenner all found the net, but misses from Cato, Oppong and Stellon, saw Ismael Thomas' successful seventh kick for Leverstock Green take the home side through, 4-3.

 

WGC: Benton, Perrin, Kenna (Lovell 105), Costain (Jenner 64), Brettell, James (Cifuentes 64), Boodhoo, Stellon, Cato, Arnott (M), Oppong.

Leverstock Green 4 - 4 Welwyn Garden City FC (Leverstock win 4-3 on pens)