WELWYN GC got back into action just short of a month since their last game, when they travelled to Oxhey Jets in midweek.
On the back of six successive weather postponements, Adam Fisher’s side hadn’t seen action since February 10, when, ironically Oxhey Jets had visited Herns Lane, resulting in a 3-1 win for the Citizens.
So it was no real surprise that WGC were somewhat out of sorts in a first-half that was rather short on quality and entertainment.
In the end, it was a sharply taken Jon Clements hat-trick that saw them through a game that was hard work for 55 minutes, until their hosts had midfielder Marius-Cosmin sent off by referee Martyn Cannon, for aiming a punch at WGC’s Ashley Kersey.
This came in an unseemly melee that occurred after Kersey challenged for a loose ball with Oxhey keeper Ryan Keeley.
From that point and from when manager Fisher made a double change eight minutes later, bringing on Tyler Hatherly, in particular and George Ironton, WGC took the game over, to score three more times and move just a point behind leaders Berkhamsted with four games in hand.
WGC face a daunting 16 league games and two cup finals in what is little more that seven weeks left in the season.
After a scruffy opening period, Dan Bond had WGC’s best two early openings, but was firstly foiled by a fine tackle by Oxhey full-back Gibson and then just couldn’t make contact with a tempting Jon Sexton cross.
Jon Clements’ slick run along the by-line just failed to find Kersey, as Oxhey central defender Halcombe hacked off the goalline.
But there was no stopping Clements in 22 minutes, when a fine pass from Nick Elliott had him racing down the middle to reach the ball a split second before keeper Keeley and lob home a classy finish.
That seemed to settle WGC but four minutes from the break, the otherwise impeccable Dave Corran lost the ball and saw home skipper Chris Blunden slip away from him, to supply a fine through ball that ended with Jahobi Maher slipping the equaliser past WGC keeper Charlie May.
This gave Oxhey impetus and they started the second-half the better side until a cross from the right saw Kersey flick a header goalward. Keeley half saved it, but the ball ran away from him and the big WGC forward challenged for it.
A foul was given, but players from both sides got involved in the resulting melee. Mr Cannon finally restored order and then sent Marius-Cosmin off for his actions.
Manager Fisher promptly introduced Hatherly and Ironton for Danny Payne and Kersey and within minutes Hatherly made a big impact, crossing in a fine ball that Clements flicked on and Bond came in with a smart, low finish on the far post, to restore the Citizens’ lead.
WGC never looked back from that stage and made it three on 77 minutes, when Jay Rolfe’s high ball into the Oxhey area, saw two home defenders get in a terrible tangle over clearing and Clements slipped between them for a simple second.
Ten minutes later it was four. The impressive Hatherly made a run from midfield to be tripped 30 yards out. He took a ferocious free-kick that
Keeley did well to stop, but couldn’t hold and Clements pocketed the rebound to complete his hat-trick and WGC’s night’s work.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Corran, McGrandles, Sexton, Payne (Ironton 63), Spaul, Elliott, Bond (Bronti 79), Kersey (Hatherly 63), Clements.