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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

THE Citizens exited the FA Vase in controversial circumstances against United Counties League Div 1 Peterborough Sports and for the second time this season, finished a game with eight men!


The victors Sports finished with nine players themselves and there were eight cautions in the game - two for WGC players.


But also WGC's elimination from the prestigious competition, had much to do with them coming up against the trickiest and sharpest forward that they have met in any competition in the past two seasons.


Sports' right-winger Dan Clements was just too hot for the Herns Lane side to contain and scored both his sides' goals in a virtuoso performance that explains why the UCL Div 1 outfit have him on a contract!


There was nothing to suggest in the first 45 minutes that the tie would end up the way it did.


WGC, watched by 121 paying customers, got the perfect start taking a ninth minute lead. Sam Perrin's accurate free-kick into the centre of the Sports area was met by Joel Norris, to net with a downward header.


But within minutes Adam Fisher's side had a major let-off. Perry Stellon lost possession and Clements drove a shot across goal. The effort was retrieved to set up striker Ondre Odain, but he too let WGC off the hook, driving his shot wide.


Jason Caswell, well policed by Sports' powerful centre - back Watkins Makate for most of the 120 minutes, headed a good Norris cross over, while Sports' Dan Fountain put clear by a long ball from the back, lashed a chance over for the visitors, but generally the first-half was poorish fayre.


In six minutes early in the second-half, the tie was turned on its head.


On 53 minutes, WGC were reduced to 10 men, Norris being dismissed for kicking out while grounded by a challenge by Sports' Ryan Birtles.


Two minutes later, the Peterborough outfit were level with as good a goal as seen at Herns Lane in a long time.


Clements won a challenge with Perrin, got up with the ball, outpaced two more WGC defenders and as he closed in on Joe Croft's goal, thrashed a tremendous shot in via the crossbar. Even the WGC faithful showed their appreciation of a superb individual effort.


But the Citizens were back at their visitors within two minutes. Caswell raced through and was clearly tripped by Sports keeper McShane. The WGC striker recovered his balance, although appearing to handle in the process and went on to net.


Referee Stevens had blown seconds earlier, awarding the penalty and booking McShane, with many feeling it should have been a red card.


To add insult to WGC's injury, Sean Brettell slammed his spot-kick against McShane's left-hand post.


Two minutes from the end of normal time, the numbers-a-side were evened up, when Mr Stevens dismissed Sports' Scott Bogusz for a remark made to him, after pulling up the midfielder for offside.


The deadlock was broken in the 96th minute of extra time, when a stretched WGC allowed Fountain to make too much progress down the left. He whipped over a low cross that the home defence failed to cut out and Clements latched onto it, rounded Brettell and keeper Croft and rolled in what proved to be the decider.


Manager Fisher introduced Craig Arnott, having fallen behind, but he was only on the pitch 10 minutes before both he and Sports' skipper Ali Nyang got embroiled in a tussle over a challenge and were dismissed by Mr Stevens for raising their hands to each other.


Jack Dekanski got back excellently to clear another Clements effort off the line in the closing minutes to prevent WGC falling further in arrears, but the centre-back finished the centre of attention in the game's final minute, when a poor, late challenge sent the quicksilver winger sprawling and saw Dekanski as the third WGC player in the match to receive a straight red card!


WGC: Croft, Perrin (Ross 70), Kenna, Dekanski, Lovell (Brettell 38), James (Arnott C 97), Stellon, Smith, Cato, Norris, Caswell.

Welwyn Garden City 1 - 2 Peterborough Sports (aet)