WELWYN GC suffered a truly stunning defeat on their first visit to Thame in many years, when the Oxfordshire side turned a 2-0 deficit on its head, with a four goal burst in 12 minutes, midway through the second-half.
For almost an hour of this game, WGC looked comfortably in control and were easily holding the two goal lead given them by Dave Keenleyside and Stuart Zanone in the opening 20 minutes.
In fact, the Citizens might have had more in a dominant first 45 minute display, home keeper Steve Caro denying Zanone a second with a sharp save and Keenleyside was just over the bar with a snapshot, after a flowing WGC move involving five visiting players.
The Herns Lane side settled to their work much better than the home side in a game played in foul conditions, torrential rain blowing across the pitch throughout, amid freezing temperatures.
After Zanone had brought Thame keeper Caro quickly into action in 10 minutes and Charlie Smith, pushed into midfield in the absence of Nick Elliott, had a goalbound effort charged down, WGC took a deserved 14th minute lead.
Jon Sexton played a long ball down the left, Keenleyside collected, slipped inside a defender and made progress along the by-line before driving his low shot past Caro into the far corner.
Scarcely had the loyal band of WGC fans finished cheering that effort, than the lead was doubled.
Jay Rolfe swung in a tempting cross from the right that Zanone met in trademark fashion with a flashing header past Caro into the net for 2-0.
WGC held that advantage fairly comfortably and keeper Dan Green did have a single troubling moment in the opening half.
At half-time, referee Mr Holden ajudged that WGC’s claret shirts and Thame’s red and black were becoming too difficult to distinguish through the rain and gathering gloom and Adam Fisher’s side switched to wearing their bright orange shirts for the second-half.
With the change of kit came a change of fortune.
Despite having the better of the opening 10 minutes of the second period, when Smith again hit a dipping effort just over the bar and Zanone hesitated fatally when let clean through, allowing keeper Caro to save with his legs, the game turned totally on a Thame goal in 57 minutes.
There seemed little danger as Harry Scott sped down the left. He got over his cross and the home side’s top scorer Dan West looped a header over Green to pull one back.
This goal had a devastating effect on both sides, WGC’s defence suffering a meltdown, while it sparked a remarkable home revival.
Eight minutes later, West picked up midway in the visitors’ half, slipped Lee Close who attempted to chase the striker down. Rolfe closed in and Green came out of goal, but the clever West eluded all three, to roll the ball home for a fine individual goal.
Within a minute Thame had the lead as a shell-shocked WGC could do little, as Lynton Goss shot past Green with a weak effort that looked as if it should have been stopped.
But when the Oxfordshire side added a fourth in 72 minutes, West completing his hat-trick from 20 yards out, sending a dipping shot past
Green from distance, any WGC hopes of reward from this game were finally ended.
Manager Fisher threw on Dan Bond, Ashley Kersey and newcomer Ramone Cassidy-Sinclair, just signed from St Margaretsbury, on for the final stages, but the game was beyond retrieving.
Concerning for the WGC manager will be that this was the second game in succession that his side have conceded four goals in defeat, although they remain in ninth place in the Southern League Div 1 Central table, despite recent losses
WGC: Green, Rolfe, Close, Corran, Sexton (Bond 69), Payne, Spaul (Cassidy-Sinclair 82), Keeleyside, Smith, Zanone (Kersey 82), Clements.