STOTFOLD have indisputed claims to have been Welwyn GC’s bogey side this season.
In four meetings this campaign, the Mid Beds side have won all three completed games, while in the abandoned clash between the sides back in October last year, WGC were ironically winning 2-0, when the game was called off after 65 minutes.
This re-arranged fixture was the replay of that match five months earlier, when players of both sides left the field of play following an altercation off-field involving former WGC player James Ewington.
And it was a result that was completely the reverse of the Citizens’ somewhat flattering home victory over Holmer Green just four days before.
Then the Citizens were fortunate to come away with maximum points after playing poorly for the first-hour of the game.
Here, Adam Fisher’s side were the more impressive side for the opening hour, but were stung by two goals in four minutes, in the first quarter of the second-half that decided the game.
Referee Tom Ratheram kept a lid on things in this fourth meeting of the two sides who prop up the SSML’s Respect (Good Behaviour) league tables and WGC picked up just two cautions – both for dissent – and Stotfold one, as the game ultimately proved quite a tame one.
WGC welcomed back Yasin Boodhoo to the centre of the defence, where he partnered Danny Payne, after a one match suspension and began brightly, George Brinkman flashing a well struck 20 yarder just past a post in five minutes.
On nine minutes, the visitors had a let-off after Drew Cardines got around Payne down the right and pulled it back for Stotfold striker Dan Bond. He fired past keeper Metcalfe, but Taishan Griffith rescued the situation with a goalline clearance.
The home side were fortunate not to pick up two bookings midway through the half. Referee Ratheram taking a lenient approach with midfielder Shadrach
Williams over a very hefty challenge on WGC’s Ben Long and with full-back Correia Dias when he tripped firstly Paul Morris, playing against his old club and then Brinkman, within the space of a couple of minutes.
Home keeper Matt Fallon did well to tip over a Brinkman corner that looked destined for the far side of the net and then the Stotfold keeper did wonderfully well to beat out a fearsome effort on the volley from Long. The rebound fell to Marcus Campbell, but under sustained pressure, he put his chance of a seventh goal in eight games, just past a post.
Stotfold gave a warning of a strong start to the second-half when a long ball over the top got Cardines in behind the WGC defence, three minutes into the half. He flashed a cross-shot across the face of the visitors’ goal, inches away from the incoming Bond, on the far post.
Then on 55 minutes, the home side took the lead. A high ball in from the right found striker Tom Oram. He struck it goalwards, Griffith got in another vital block, but the rebound ran to Williams close in and he netted from short range. WGC appealed for offside, keeper Metcalfe getting booked for his protests, but the goal stood.
Stotfold instantly made a double change and before WGC could respond, found themselves 2-0 up with a stunning goal from Oram from fully 25 yards out, his swinging long-range shot from outside the area, flying in over Metcalfe, giving the keeper no chance.
From that point, the game was as good as decided. Manager Fisher brought on Sean Brettell and Luke Robins in a vain effort to get his side back in the game, but, in truth, they never really threatened to close the deficit, ironically their best two chances narrowly missed by the substitutes.
Robins flashed a good near post header over the Stotfold bar on 70 minutes and on the stroke of time, Brettell struck WGC’s best second-half effort, but just over.
WGC: Metcalfe, Griffith, Boodhoo, Payne, Welsh (Brettell 64), Brinkman, Long, Morris, Bronti (McClelland 80), Ngwala (Robins 64), Campbell.