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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

WGC disappointingly exited the FA Cup in this preliminary round tie at SSML rivals Stotfold, their Mid Beds hosts adapting to the gale-force, windy conditions far better than Adam Fisher's side.


The Herns Lane outfit went into the tie with a 100 per cent record from their four previous fixtures in various competitions, including a narrow win in the previous round, 2-1 at Bedford FC.


But despite that seemingly impressive statistic, WGC's form has been scratchy in their opening quartet of games.


They have played poorly in the opening 45 minutes at both Bedford and Leighton Town and in their opening league win at Oxhey Jets, having been cruising to a 3-0 win after 75 minutes, were forced to hang on desperately for a 3-2 win in the final quarter.


Manager Fisher will be particularly angry that his side let a replay slip away in the final minutes of this tie, WGC seemingly having earned a second bite when substitute Ashley Kersey headed them level with just six minutes to go.


But WGC failed to see out the final minutes and three minutes from the end of normal time - referee Fellos played an inexplicable nine minutes of overtime - Stotfold took the lead for the third time in the afternoon and this time, despite the more than generous stoppage time, WGC couldn't find an equaliser.


Fisher had to pluck central defender Jake Hoy from his development squad to play alongside Yasin Boodhoo, with new skipper Martin Standen suspended, John McGrandles unwell and newest signing Sam Doolan, unavailable.


There were appeals for a WGC penalty as early as eight minutes into the tie, when Joshn Bronti went down under challenge from Stotfold skipper Ben L'Honore, but Mr Fellos was unmoved.


Stotfold had the first clear-cut opening of the game when Tom Oram was played in, but he shot straight at WGC keeper Jack Metcalfe, but two minutes later WGC wasted a golden chance, Joe Foley, playing down the left, did well to hold off defender Simpson and cross. The ball deflected to Bronti just five yards out, but he hit keeper Pilsworth with his effort.


A goal then and the tie might have had a different outcome.


Eight minutes later Stotfold were ahead, when WGC's defence was split by a Fitton through ball and lively striker Dan Bond, who had scored four in his previous game, made WGC pay with a sharp shot past Metcalfe into the corner.


WGC were behind just four minutes. On 27 minutes, the impressive Foley collected a loose ball 30 yards out and sent a spectacular dipping effort over Pilsworth to bring the sides level at 1-1.


The home side had the ball in the net again through Bond two minutes from the break, but the striker was ruled to have kicked the ball out of keeper Metcalfe's hands, as the pair scrambled on the ground.


But it was a short-lived reprieve for the Citizens.


Two minutes into first-half stoppage time, Stotfold were ahead again. A ball down the right setting the dangerous Bond free, did the damage. This time his long cross across goal found Oram on the far post, who slid it in for a 2-1 interval lead.


Only a fine goal-saving block from Lewis Endacott kept WGC in the tie four minutes after the break, the full-back getting in the way of a Jonny Butler effort, again created by Bond's pace.


Gradually WGC began to show something of their form and a long Jay Welsh free-kick deflected off a subdued James Ewington straight to home keeper Pilsworth.


Manager Fisher introduced Ben Long and Dave Parkinson for an ineffectual Bronti and Collins and then brought on Kersey with 20 minutes to go.


Certainly, in the blustery, windswept conditions, the big striker's height and strength proved a more than useful weapon.


Kersey rose on the back post to another accurate Welsh free-kick only to head into Pilsworth's arms, before the striker seemed to have rescued WGC's fitful display in 84 minutes.


Referee Fellos overruled his linesman on a throw-in, awarding it to WGC and when Endacott hurled it in, Kersey got up in front of keeper Pilsworth to head over him to seemingly have earned a replay.


But more naive defending cost the Citizens again in the 87th minute. They failed to prevent Stotfold building down their right, home substitute Foster got over a long cross that wasn't cut out and it reached midfielder Ashley Fitton who drove low past Metcalfe to take the Beds side to an away tie at Essex Senior League Waltham Forest in the next round.


WGC: Metcalfe, Endacott, Boodhoo, Hoy, Welsh, Fitzgerald, Collins (Long 64), Foley (Kersey 69), Bronti (Parkinson 64), Ewington, Robins.

Stotfold 3 - 2 Welwyn Garden City FC