WELWYN GC’s hopes of a top four finish for the second successive season in the SSML Premier, further receeded with this solitary goal home defeat at Herns Lane.
WGC were unable to bounce back after their 4-0 thumping at Wembley the previous weekend, with a morale-boosting home win, against a Sun Sports side that took the lead on the stroke of half-time and defended their advantage manfully in a second-half as the Citizens forced the pace.
But, in truth, it was only in the game’s final quarter that Adam Fisher’s side really threatened an equaliser.
Twice in the closing minutes they were foiled by Sun keeper Matt Evans, as firstly he made a fine, goal-saving block from WGC newcomer Tatenda Makoni’s powerful drive and then on the stroke of time, Evans fingertipped a Marcus Campbell effort onto the foot of the post and out.
WGC were depleted by the absences of unfit Ashley Kersey, unavailable Sean Brettell –who had just become a father for the first time – and unwell George Brinkman.
Olly Leslie was back in goal for the first time in four months, Jason Coughlan and Jay Welsh were recalled and Taishan Griffith available again.
Sun Sports’ big striker Kyle Johnson had the first effort of the game, a volley that was well off target and WGC’s first meaningful effort from Ben Long was equally wayward in 17 minutes.
The first real excitement didn’t come until the 25th minute, when a huge clearance from Griffith saw Paul Morris challenge for the high ball with keeper Evans, who fumbled it. Morris tried to latch onto the loose ball and went down under challenge, but referee Cannon, who was very lenient all evening, waved aside all claims for a penalty.
Luke Robins blazed over an acceptable opening just passed the half-hour, while Coughlan got forward to meet a Welsh free-kick, only to head just past a post.
On the stroke of the interval, Sun Sports took the lead. A high ball down the middle caught out the WGC defence. Karl Penny raced through and as keeper Leslie advanced, Penny hooked it over him and ran round to collect and dribble the ball into an empty net.
The Citizens attempted to response in the first attack of the second-half, Josh Bronti got down the right and slipped over a low cross that Campbell met, but put his shot past a post.
Although it was WGC doing most of the pressing, Penny nearly caught them out again, outpacing Welsh, only for Leslie to make a fine block. The rebound went back to the Sun Sports player, but he blazed wildly over.
The introduction of newcomers Charlie Rome, for an injured Yasin Boodhoo and in particular, Makoni for Coughlan, sparked a spirited closing effort from the Herns Lane side.
Makoni, who impressed in his short time on the pitch and Campbell, went closest, but WGC couldn’t break through and look as if they will be just playing out the campaign, in their last half-dozen games. if they can’t improve on this performance.
WGC: Leslie, Griffith, Boodhoo (Rome 66), Payne, Welsh, Coughlan (Makoni 82), Long, Morris, Bronti, Campbell, Robins.