WELWYN GC finally broke their duck of the Dean Barker era, scoring their first victory under their new manager, who has brought such a renewed spirit to Herns Lane, in his fifth Southern League game in charge.
The previous four under Barker - who took over the Citizens’ reins in such difficult circumstances and had to rebuild a brand-new squad from scratch - have been spirited draws – two away from home and the latter two having seen WGC play the second-halfs of the fixtures with 10 men, yet still claim a share of the points.
This time, the Clarets kept 11 men on the field and came storming back for an outstanding win against a Thame side, who had stunned WGC a couple of months earlier on their own ground, turning a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 win inside 15 dreadful minutes,
The Oxfordshire visitors came into the game in the play-off places in fifth and this was victory was a prestigious scalp for WGC to lift, as their new look side improve with every game.
With regular keeper Lewis Todd suspended for the game, serving a one match ban for his controversial sending-off at Kidlington last week, WGC fielded new keeper Charlie Jones, who has seen experience with Leighton Town and Barton Rovers.
He was among four home debutants, with midfield Jesse Walklin, winger Matty Campbell-Mhlope and full-back Dan Carr, all playing at Herns Lane for the first time.
On loan central defender Ivan Agyaakwah had a shot in the first minute deflected for a corner, but WGC had a narrow escape three minutes into the game, new keeper Jones caught off his line by lobbed effort from Thame’s Lynton Goss, that just cleared the bar.
The opening stages were poor fayre really, but Thame capitalized on 21 minutes, when Goss proved too strong for Agyaakwah and muscled him off the ball to set up the chance for top scoring Dan West to fire the visitors ahead with a low shot past an unprotected Jones.
The reverse seemed to enliven WGC and they were level within 11 minutes with a first goal from Eusebio Da Silva, who swiveled excellently on a loose ball, after Charlie Pattison had a shot blocked and dispatched it into the bottom corner, for 1-1.
Campbell-Mhlope showed great skill skipping away from a group of players to fire just past a post, as WGC’s performance really improved.
And on 37 minutes they were ahead with a rather route one goal. Jay Rolfe’s long ball from the back, saw Da Silva occupy several Thame defenders, allowing the ball to run through to Romelle Alomenu, who got the touch past Thame keeper Craig Hall for a 2-1 lead.
That was almost 3-1 just before the break, central defender Agyaakwah meeting a Keenleyside corner on the back post, only to see Thame defender Liam Tack clear the effort off the line.
New full-back Carr replaced Agyaakwah for the second-half and within two minutes of the second-half, WGC did have a two goal cushion.
Central defender Dylan Ebengo, having another outstanding game, bullocked forward and was only stopped by a desperate clearance by Thame’s Ashworth.
The clearance fell to Walklin, who put over a beauty of a cross, pinpointed onto the head of Da Silva, who bulleted his effort past Hall giving the visiting keeper no chance with his second of the game.
WGC were now rampant. On 51 minutes, the impressive Carr swung over a superb cross met by the forehead of skipper Keenleyside, but the effort was straight at keeper Hall, who kept it out with a point-blank save.
New keeper Jones was forced to one sharp stop to keep out a rare Thame effort, but it was WGC doing most of the pressing and they almost had a fourth close to full-time.
Jones’ goal-kick was headed on by Da Silva to send Campbell-Mhlope clear, He outpaced several Thame defenders, only to pull his final effort just wide of the post, as Barker’s side closed the game looking a very impressive outfit.
WGC: Jones, Rolfe, Agyaakwah (Carr 46), Ebengo, Sexton, Walklin, Pattison, Keenleyside (Ebelebe 81), Alomenu (Melford-Rowe 74), Campbell-Mhlope, Da Silva.