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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 staged a brave, 70 minute rearguard action, to claim their place in the FA Emirates Cup's first qualifying round and a home tie against the winners of Wednesday's Norwich United-St Ives Town replay.


The reason that Adam Fisher's side had to restore to such defensive tactics, hinged totally on an 18th minute decision by match referee Daniel Hanna to send off WGC defender Yasin Boodhoo, with a straight red card, for a challenge on Waltham Abbey full-back Macauley Joynes.


It has to be said that Mr Hanna seemed very hasty in brandishing the red, for a tackle that seemed to look a lot worse than it actually was.


Joynes certainly made the most of it, flying through the air before rolling in agony, but took only a couple of minutes treatment to recover and any inury sustained didn't seem to trouble him for the remaining 72 minutes.


The incident dictated the remainder of a tense cup-tie, that had seen WGC take the lead with a first minute goal, courtesy of Ashley Kersey, who latched onto a through ball down the middle, forced his way through and beat Waltham Abbey keeper Page with a rather scrambled effort, to put a 200 plus Herns Lane crowd in joyous mood.


It didn't last. Their Ryman League Div 1 North opponents fashioned an opening in seven minutes that midfielder Tm Wood blazed over, before WGC winger Dave Parkinson twice tested the visitors, firstly putting over an inviting cross that no one could get a vital touch to and then skipping past soon-to-be match villain Joynes, only for Abbey defender Rimmel Daniel to clear away from an unguarded goal.


But all WGC's early dominance went with the Boodhoo decision.


Moments after the defender left the field, in-form WGC keeper Joe Croft was brought to another of his recent range of breathtaking saves with an outstanding block from Abbey full-back Attard's close-in header, with the visiting player already heralding what he thought was the equaliser.


Boss Fisher reacted to the situation by having to sacrifice midfielder Abel Mudimu, who had made a good start to the game, with an extra defender in Carl Mensah.


Parkinson continued to impress as WGC's most potent weapon on the afternoon, slipping a couple of tackles to bring a save from Page, low down, before making a mazy dribble along the by-line, only to be forced out by defender Daniel at the last.


The winger continued to keep up the good work at the start of the second-half with another good run, before Waltham Abbey began to get a grip on proceedings and the game's possession.


Winger Ryan Flack put a fine chance of an equaliser for the visitors over the bar from short range and a powerful effort from substitute Piers Wixon had the same fate, as WGC were pressed back in their own area.


Dangerous winger Michael Pindy slipped around Jay Welch and brought another good save from Croft on his near post.


WGC had Jason Caswell available again and he was introduced on the hour for a rather subdued Josh Bronti, as the Citizens were forced to rely on breakaways.


They had several chances to catch out the Waltham Abbey defence, but after Parkinson broke clear and found Craig Arnott, the midfielder cut inside and ballooned his side's best opening of the half over the bar in 71 minutes. The next time the same pair got clear, there was a passing mix-up between them that saw the pair lose possession.


A tiring Kersey got through into the visitors' area, only to put his effort into the side netting and from Arnott's high free-kick into the area in 77 minutes, Kersey did better, looping a header over keeper Page, only for Attard to clear off the line from the incoming John McGrandles.


The final 15 minutes was a tale of almost continuous Waltham Abbey pressure, but apart from another fine Croft stop - this time with his feet - from substitute Darrelle Russell, some heroic defending kept the visitors at bay until Mr Hanna finally blew his whistle to the relief to nearly all in the anxious crowd.


WGC: Croft, Perrin, McGrandles, Boodhoo, Welsh, Cifuentes, Mudimu (Mensah 28), Arnott, Bronti (Caswell 60), Kersey (Lovell 81), Parkinson.

Welwyn Garden City FC 1 - 0 Waltham Abbey