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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

A GAME of two halves is quite common in competitive football, but this SSML League Challenge Trophy second round tie was more a game of three thirds.


For the first half-hour of the tie, WGC were totally dominant. They had built up a 3-0 lead inside the first 30 minutes and were coasting to a third round home tie with runaway SSML Div 1 joint leaders Edgware on December 16.


The second half-hour wasn't bad. WGC maintained their grip on the tie without adding to the margin, despite hitting the woodwork and having another effort cleared off the line, but the final 30 minutes had boss Adam Fisher in a rage at the final whistle.


His side lapsed into a slack complacency and saw their understrength Div 1 opponents score twice in the closing stages and make WGC and their supporters glad that the tie didn't go on beyond the 90 minute mark.


Certainly the Citizens couldn't have had a better start to the evening, when for the second midweek game on the run, they scored in the first minute.


Josh Bronti got away down the right put over a cross and Jason Caswell turned it home in the side's first raid of the match. It wasn't quite as quick as Craig Arnott's 26 second effort the previous week at Leverstock Green, but not far behind.


Bobby Dance hooked a good long-range effort just wide and Bronti was wide of the target when Risborough's teenage keeper Jack Brooker miscued a clearance straight to him.


But the second wasn't long in coming. There were 18 minutes gone, when Bronti got away down the right again and crossed to the back post, where Levi Gunn bundled in his first WGC goal, for 2-0.


Eight minutes later it was 3-0 as from a right-wing corner, the returned John McGrandles powered in a header that Risborough cleared out of goal, but referee Loe awarded, clearly stating the effort had crossed the line.


The Bucks visitors feared a cricket score at this stage.


But to their credit in the closing minutes before the break, they twice came close to reducing the deficit.


Firstly striker Rhys Daly should have done better than hit a post when clean through, Jay Welsh was able to clear the rebound off the goalline and then WGC keeper Jamie Jackson made a fine save from the visitors' top scoring skipper Martin Griggs, when he was played through, saving at the Risborough man's feet.


Three minutes after the restart, Caswell came within a width of a post of a second, when his shot on the turn struck the Risborough woodwork and 10 minutes later, McGrandles was also denied a second goal, another powerful header from a corner being hacked off the visitors' goalline.


But then boss Fisher made changes. He took off Danny Payne, playing for the first time in three months after two bad hamstring injuries, after 55 minutes and replaced Dance with Craig Arnott 10 minutes later.


The final half-hour saw WGC clearly feel the job was done and drift into a torpor that they couldn't shake off.


Risborough seemed to have claimed no more than a consolation 13 minutes from time, when keeper Jackson fouled the visitors' Davies to earn a booking and concede a free-kick 15 yards out. Substitute Sam Ward stepped up and drove a low effort into the bottom corner for 3-1.


WGC couldn't raise their game and in the game's dying moments, that became 3-2, when Ward bagged his second, touching home Austin's low cross into the home area.


The Citizens were grateful that there wasn't more than a couple of minutes left, so lack-lustre had they become and were pleased to hear the final whistle, even though it was also the signal for their manager to vent his wrath.


WGC: Jackson, Lovell, Mensah, McGrandles, Welsh, Payne (Price 55), Smith, Dance (Arnott 65), Bronti (Ross 73), Caswell, Gunn.














Welwyn Garden City FC 3 - 2 Risborough Rangers