WELWYN GC secured their first league double of the season by overcoming St Margaretsbury for the second time in just over a month, but this was a much sterner test than the 4-0 thrashing they administered at Stansted Abbotts in September.
Although the Saints lie second bottom in the SSML Premier currently, they gave a much more spirited display here than in the previous meeting and at times, the victory flattered WGC a little.
The quality of the first-half play was badly affected by a torrential downpour that hit Herns Lane shortly after kick-off and caused the ball to skid and bring up water off the pitch in alarming quantities.
Central defender John McGrandles, rising well to a left-wing corner to head wide, produced the Citizens’ first effort on goal and it was the big defender that another corner fell to on the 20 minute mark, but his effort was blocked in front of goal.
His defensive partner Yasin Boodhoo’s slip let in Saints forward Lillis and home keeper Charlie May had to save at the forward’s feet as the lowly visitors showed they meant business this time.
But on 24 minutes, WGC were ahead. Josh Bronti chased a ball to the by-line and pulled it back for Charlie Joy to fire goalwards. His effort was aided by a defender coming across Saints’ keeper Grundy and deflecting it past him into the net.
Eight minutes later, referee Mackey pulled up with a calf injury and was unable to continue, causing a 10 minute delay while a replacement linesman was found.
Citizens’ Under 25 manager Russ Giblin came to the rescue volunteering and assistant Chimango Gondwe took the middle for the remainder of the game.
Late in the half, WGC almost had a second. Again a back pass from visiting defender Clarke held up on the sodden pitch. Top scorer Jon Clements latched onto it, got around goalkeeper Grundy and shot for goal. But again the ball stuck in the goalmouth and defender Crockett cleared off the line.
Fortunately the rain stopped after the interval and the Clarets began the half in now familiar attacking fashion.
Bronti did well to work his way along the by-line and again find Joy, but the winger was denied a second by a defender’s deflection wide.
WGC piled on the pressure at this stage and Clements rose well to a corner, but directed his powerful header wide, while Bronti slipped two challenges in the area, but a good challenge from defender Clarke took the sting out of the final effort.
On the hour, St Margaretsbury showed they were still a threat when Crockett’s pass found Courtney Clay homing in on the WGC goal, but he lost control at the vital moment and May saved at his feet.
WGC introduced Brandon Carney for Joy just past the hour and with his first touch a minute later, Carney netted with a good header from Jay Rolfe’s long cross, but was ruled offside.
Carney, making a real impression then struck the best effort of the half, destined for the top corner, but keeper Grundy turned it around in fine style.
St Margaretsbury had their closest effort yet, when with eight minutes left, defender Mitchell’s free-kick beat the WGC defensive wall and struck a post with May beaten, but two minutes later, the Clarets sealed the points with a much needed second.
Carney hooked the ball forward, Clements helped into the path of Bronti who reached it before keeper Grundy to stab goalwards. It just crossed the line before WGC’s second substitute Ashley Kersey chased it home, the goal being awarded to winger Bronti.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Corran, Payne, Spaul, Ironton (Kersey 67), Bronti, Clements (Marks 85), Joy (Carney 64).