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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

WELWYN GC moved into the second round proper of this season's FA Vase with a powerful last half-hour showing in this tough first round tie with Eastern Counties League rivals Saffron Walden.


The clubs were renewing acquaintance after meeting in the same competition two seasons ago, when the tie produced two memorable cup matches, WGC finally progressing by a single goal in extra time, in a replay.


This time Adam Fisher's side progressed in regulation time, but not after coming back from a goal down, in a tie in which they conceded two penalties and both sides had a man sent off!


Saffron Walden will probably feel that the final scoreline was a little generous to the Citizens, as the Essex side held the edge for the opening hour.


The first-half was evenly contested, but it was Walden who showed the bigger attacking threat.


They were on the attack from the first minute when central defender Ryan Fleming landed a header on the roof of the WGC net.


The Citizens responded with a Josh Bronti cross-shot that clipped the visitors' crossbar on its way over, while Luke Robins had a close-in header blocked by the Walden back-line.


But with ex-Ipswich and Yeovil midfielder Craig Calver, Walden's assistant-manager, proving a real menace it was Walden who were the more impressive and he set up Marc Abbott to blaze a powerful 30 yard effort just wide.


Just past the half-hour, Walden were awarded their first penalty by referee Crofts, when Matt Snelling was felled and then kicked while grounded. Abbott took the spot-kick, but WGC hero Olly Leslie pulled off an excellent save, blocking with his legs to keep WGC on terms.


Two minutes from the break, WGC were again grateful to their keeper, who pulled off another outstanding stop, tipping a Shaun Avis effort around the post in fine style.


But the visitors weren't to be denied and three minutes after the restart, they were awarded a second penalty.


Lewis Endacott, having particular trouble in subduing tricky winger James Crane, swept the Walden player's legs away, just inside the area. This time Leslie stood little chance, as Avis found the corner with his spot-kick.


The WGC keeper foiled Avis minutes later with a third eye-catching save turning away the final shot in great style, before two incidents around the hour turned the game.


Firstly, WGC got on terms in what was a rare break-out from defence at this stage.


Jay Welsh got away down the left, crossed and although it missed Ashley Kersey, Taishan Griffith collected, drifted inside a challenge and drove a fine effort beyond keeper Pacey for 1-1.


Three minutes, Griffith almost had a second, when a Kersey effort deflected to him, but this time his strong shot hit Pacey's body and was deflected away to safety and the visitors' relief.


On 65 minutes, Walden were reduced to 10 men, defender James Solkhon was given a second yellow for a badly timed trip on WGC's Ben Long.


Now WGC pressed and Griffith escaped a weak challenge by defender Fleming to cross to the back post, where Luke Robins' header brought a tip-away save from visiting keeper Pacey, who was now having a much more strenuous afternoon.


With 11 minutes to go,. WGC took the lead. Griffith found skipper Danny Payne, who lofted a fine dropping cross forward for Josh Bronti to meet with a diving, looping header over Pacey, for a 2-1 lead.


Within a minute, the teams were levelled up at 10 men apiece, as Endacott got a second yellow, for another heavy challenge on Crane.


On the stroke of time, match hero Leslie kept WGC ahead with a fine block to again frustrate Avis, as full-back Grindrod put in a cross from the left.


As the game entered stoppage time, a desperate Saffron Walden sent keeper Pacey forward for a last gasp corner.


It proved their undoing. WGC won the clearance, Ben Long broke clear and found Bronti, who picked his spot, for his second goal - a low 30 yard effort into a totally unguarded Saffron Walden net to clinch the tie.


WGC: Leslie, Endacott, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Welsh, Payne, Long, Robins (Foley 86), Bronti, Kersey (Read 73), Griffith.

Welwyn Garden City FC 3 - 1 Saffron Walden