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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

WELWYN GC surrendered the last unbeaten record in the SSML Premier Division to a 40th minute penalty and to runaway leaders London Colney, in front of 140 fans at Herns Lane on Saturday.


The Citizens' first league loss saw them slip to sixth in the table, while their conquerors made it 10 wins from 11 league fixtures this season to head the division by eight points.


It completed an unhappy week for Adam Fisher's side, which also saw them lose interest in this season's Herts Charity Shield in their midweek quarter-final against another of the title contenders Berkhamsted - on a penalty shoot-out.


For all the expectancy about this league clash with leaders Colney, this was one of the poorer games seen at Herns Lane this season.


The visitors showed themselves to be a resolute side in defence, defending their solitary goal lead well against a better WGC second-half performance, but don't look a particularly outstanding outfit.


They included Dave 'Bullet' Parkinson in their line-up for his Colney debut against the club he left three weeks ago.


Also for the third time this season, WGC finished the game with 10 men, when skipper Martin Standen was sent off by referee Mario Stetakovic seven minutes from time, for a second yellow card, for a raised foot in a challenge.


Both sides also picked up four bookings apiece in a competitive, if not, particularly entertaining game.


There was little to record in the opening minutes, other than Parkinson rising well to flick on a long ball from the back into the path of Colney's top scoring Archie McClelland, but he fired the game's first opening over.


Josh Bronti made a lively run past several visiting defenders, but with new striker Lee Armitt waiting for a telling pass, Bronti made a hash of it.


Armitt had a free-kick deflected over the Colney crossbar and was foiled by an outstanding Greg Douglas challenge in the few clear-cut openings in the game, although when Colney's Jon Clements weaved past several WGC defenders down the left, the visitors' skipper Greg Shaw put the best opening of the half past a post.


The bookings began to mount on both sides before five minutes from the break, WGC's Danny Payne committed a wild challenge on Clarke-Mardel of Colney just inside the edge of the area, Mr Stetakovic pointing to the spot. Shaw put an emphatic penalty past Olly Leslie for a 1-0 half-time lead, London Colney just about deserved.


Manager Fisher made two half-time changes, pulling off Payne and Taishan Griffith, who had a poor half, and replacing them with Luke Robins and new signing Emmanuel Melford-Rowe, who had played impressively against the Citizens just a week before, when Cockfosters visited.


WGC began the half much livelier and Armitt hit a 25 yarder that faded wide, but then did much better with a rising effort that Colney keeper Gowans was forced to tip over - the visiting keeper's first real action of the game.


An airborne flick from Robins from Sam Doolan's studied ball from the back, beat Gowans and missed the far post by inches in WGC's closest call.


But the final half-hour produced little more than a spate of bookings as Mr Stetakovic attempted to keep a firm control on the game. Standen picked up his second and saw red late in the game as WGC introduced their third subsitute in James Ewington.


The best opportunity of securing a point fell to him two minutes from time. Danny Fitzgerald's long ball from the back was flicked onto him, but although Ewington's stab goalwards had enough strength to beat Gowans, defender Douglas got behind his keeper to clear and ensure that London Colney took home maximum points.


WGC: Leslie, Doolan, McGrandles, Standen, Welsh (Ewington 81), Payne (Robins 45), Long, Fitzgerald, Bronti, Armitt, Griffith (Melford-Rowe 45).

Welwyn Garden City FC 0 - 1 London Colney

Photos courtesy of Dave Fallon