SUBSTITUTE George Ironton was introduced to devastating effect eight minutes from the end of this slog-in-the-mud on Herns Lane on Saturday, to keep WGC’s promotion bid on track.
The Citizens were clearly struggling on a pitch that resembled a ploughed field towards the end of a stamina-sapping 90 minutes against lowly Oxhey Jets, who belied their 17th place in the table, with this performance.
Having missed a penalty 15 minutes from the end, it looked as if Adam Fisher’s side were going to have to be content with a point, when Ironton was introduced with match-winning effect for the last 10 minutes.
He had an immediate impact, scoring a sensational WGC second a minute after coming on.
The in-form Dan Bond, currently the Citizens’ most potent forward weapon, cleverly escaped Oxhey defender Halscomb down the left, got to the by-line and pulled back an inviting cross that Ironton reached 20 yards out and struck a ferocious shot that flew into the roof of the net to give Oxhey keeper Keeley not a chance.
With seven minutes left, that looked to be the winner. But Ironton had other ideas and two minutes into stoppage time, he got on the end of another fine by-line run, this time by WGC new boy Tyler Hatherly, to strike home a second.
This time his shot was from closer in and straight at keeper Keeley, who half stopped the effort, but couldn’t prevent it rolling over the line to give WGC a somewhat flattering final scoreline.
For the Citizens really had their work cut out to win this one.
Oxhey began the game – played throughout in torrential rain – the livelier side and Curtis Donaldson had a second minute snapshot that almost embarrassed WGC keeper Charlie May, who slipped and was relieved to see it go just pass the post.
Then Oxhey full-back Nyanto shot straight at May, when set up with a clear shooting chance.
Ashley Kersey had WGC’s first opening, from a good Jon Clements pass and a Bond cross, but saw defender Halscomb whip the ball off his toes as he prepared to shoot.
Oxhey had the ball in the net on the half-hour, when Cosmin headed home from close range, but had the effort ruled out for a fractional offside.
And insult was added to injury for the visitors three minutes later, when WGC took the lead. Nick Elliott made a vital interception and played Bond through. He again put over an inviting low cross, that Kersey forced in from short range.
WGC were inches away from a second courtesy of an own goal, when Bond struck a shot that hit defender Mandeville and rebounded inches past the post, with the entire Oxhey defence flat-footed.
But two minutes from the break, the visitors were level from the penalty spot. Jay Rolfe committing to an uncharacteristic, hasty challenge on Oxhey winger Elijah Seymour, that sent the visiting player tumbling.
Referee Mr Griffin had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Oxhey’s Smith supplied a smart spot-kick to see his side turn around level.
Kersey (hamstring) didn’t come out for the second-half, replaced by Josh Bronti.
May came to WGC’s rescue on the hour with a fine save turning away Seymour’s effort in great style, after the winger had outpaced John McGrandles to go clean through.
Oxhey threatened a second when May was forced to another sharp save this time from Chris Blunden. The rebound fell to Nyanto, but he spurned it, putting it high over the bar.
Then it was WGC who threatened to take the lead. Paul Marks, in for the unavailable Ben Spaul, rose highest to a left-wing corner and got in a fine downward header, that was blocked on the line by a pile of Oxhey bodies.
With 15 minutes left, the Herns Lane side had a golden opportunity to win the game – from the penalty spot.
The impressive Hatherly, recently signed from Hertford, had been introduced for the final 20 minutes. He produced a peach of a ball into the area for fellow sub Bronti to run onto, but the winger was taken out by Mandeville’s challenge.
Mr Griffin awarded his second spot-kick of the afternoon, much to the anger of the visitors, but Clements scorned the chance, firing a poor penalty against keeper Keeley’s legs.
Oxhey showed they still had aspirations about winning the game and a Blunden hit a 30 yard effort from a free-kick, that glanced off the foot of the post.
The draw looked much the likeliest outcome, until Ironton was introduced and produced his priceless double to win the day.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Corran, McGrandles, Sexton, Payne, Marks (Hatherley 69), Elliott, Bond, Kersey (Bronti 46), Clements (Ironton 82).