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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 HUGE 600 plus crowd - massive by the standards of those who usually attend - FA Cup preliminary round ties - were treated to a full blooded, end-to-end tie.


The drawn result was the right one. Both sides dominated a half, both sides had a goal disallowed and even referee Ian Pascu, a neutral official from Cambridgeshire, admitted he was disappointed not to be handling tonight's (Wednesday) replay, so good was the entertainment.


The Citizens more than played their part, including providing around a third of the attendance - the second best of all FA Cup ties in this round in the entire country - beaten only by AFC Rushden & Diamonds' 730 gate.


There are few, if any, other SSML Division 1 sides, than WGC, who could take 200 supporters away with them.


The Citizens went into the tie without top scorer Jason Caswell. Last season's 50 goal man was married the previous day.


After a tight and cagey opening quarter, the first-half belonged to the home 'Bloods'. They dominated possession and had the edge in chances and felt that this dominance had been rewarded in the 30th minute, when Shaun Avis netted after Joe Croft had stopped, but couldn't hold Matt Snelling's drive through a crowded area.


The reprieve was short-lived. Two minutes later, Saffron Walden's impressive Craig Calver, once of Ipswich and Yeovil, got over a cross from the left and rangy striker Graeme Turner knocked it over the line to give the Essex side the lead.


In the very next move, WGC had their best opening of the half, Joel Norris sent through, saw his shot well held by home keeper Floyd Croll.


Citizens' boss Adam Fisher, who had his namesake playing at the heart of the Walden defence, changed it at the interval, replacing Perry Stellon with 16-year-old Reggie Ross, to give his side more width.


It worked almost immediately, Within 10 minutes, Ross played a fine ball through to Craig Arnott, who cleverly tricked a defender to create a shooting chance, that he drove wastefully over the bar.


But it was better from WGC and four minutes they were level, Arnott slipping the ball back to Jay Lovell to put in a high cross that Daryl Smith fired across goal. Sean Brettell miscued his first effort, but recovered quickly to force his rebound home.


It looked as though victory might be WGC's 20 minutes from the end, Joel Norris rising to a Brettell corner to bullet in a header, but for the second time in the afternoon, Mr Pascu ruled out a goal, this time for a push in the area.


WGC had three good chances, all falling to youngster Ross on Saffron Walden's notorious sloping pitch.


He was foiled twice by fine saves from Croll and once by an excellent tackle from Walden full-back Jamie Solkhon.


Despite the Citizens having the best of the second-half openings, Joe Croft still had to pull off an outstanding save to touch away a low drive from Walden's Harper in a crowded area, eight minutes from the end, to take the sides back to Herns Lane for a deserved replay.


WGC: Croft, Jenner, Dekanski, Kenna, Lovell, James (Boodhoo 66), Stellon (Ross 45), Smith, Arnott, Brettell, Norris (Cifuentes 84).

Saffron Walden 1 - 1 Welwyn Garden City