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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 moved into the first round proper of this season's FA Vase, but not before undergoing some anxious moments in their victory against Essex Senior League Waltham Forest.


Surprisingly, by-passing a Waltham Forest side without a win so far this season and with just one league point from eight league games, proved a more exacting task than Adam Fisher and his side might thought on their trip to East London.


Certainly, when the home side were twice on level terms, once courtesy of an equaliser that did look blatantly offside, an unlikely replay at Herns Lane, didn't look out of the question.


But eventually two goals in the final 10 minutes sealed Waltham Forest's fate.


A Josh Bronti hat-trick - including two from the penalty spot - proved the Citizens' match-winning performance.


They opened the game in dominant form against opponents clearly low on confidence and Bronti gave a couple of early indications of what was to come with low efforts, safely fielded by Forest's young keeper Will Hunt in the opening 10 minutes.


After fit-again central defender John McGrandles headed wide from close in from a Jay Welsh free-kick, Waltham Forest stunned Fisher's side and the bulk of the crowd - made up almost entirely of a coachload of WGC support - by taking the lead in 24 minutes, with their first foray forward.


There looked no immediate danger until a through ball from the left wasn't cut out by WGC's central defenders and home striker Abi Balogun was through on Joe Croft, to push his shot wide of the keeper for 1-0.


For the following 10 minutes, WGC fell away badly. The slick opening gave way to some slipshod play, as panic seemed to take hold.


Calm was restored from the penalty spot on 31 minutes, when Forest's experienced ex-Ryman League player Marvin Samuel, handled a Welsh throw-


in aimed for Ashley Kersey and referee Mr Hickson-Lovence pointed to the spot.


Bronti, having won WGC's recent SSML cup-tie at Crawley Green, from the spot, repeated the feat with an emphatic spot-kick.


Six minutes later, Kersey cleverly flicked a Welsh pass into the fast-raiding winger's path and Bronti gave WGC the lead, driving low past Hunt into the corner.


But if WGC's nerves were restored at half-time by a 2-1 lead, three minutes after the restart, the anxieties were revived again, as Waltham Forest again drew level.


Home forward Danny Tulloch looked three or four yards offside when he latched onto a through ball. No whistle or flag was forthcoming and he was allowed to go on and shoot past Croft, with all the WGC defence clearing expecting a decision in their favour.


The goal stood and at 2-2, the tie was back in the melting pot.


WGC introduced Criag Arnott, free of suspension for skipper Daryl Smith, clearly struggling with his knee injury.


Arnott immediately pulled down a pass from the impressive teenager Nathan Dimmock and hit a 20 yarder just wide and then returned the compliment, playing Dimmock in on goal with a neat pass, only for keeper Hunt to save at the expense of a corner.


With 25 minutes remaining, WGC had the ball in the net again, from a deflected McGrandles header, in off a home defender, but the referee disallowed the effort, for a foul on the keeper.


On 71 minutes, the visitors did get their noses in front again and again it was from the penalty spot.


Bronti made a strong right-wing run before being stopped by Forest substitute Roy Jones. The WGC winger battled to win the ball back and was upended by the defender, for the referee to point to the spot for the second time in the


afternoon. Bronti supplied a second, successful penalty, just beating Hunt's dive.


WGC weren't to be pulled back again and seven minutes from time, Jay Lovell, playing in the centre of defence, anticipated a Welsh free-kick well, to get behind the Waltham Forest defence and turn home number four.


As the tie entered stoppage time, substitute Aaron Cato cushioned a header into the path of fellow sub Dave Parkinson, who took the ball on to crash in a fifth. A goal that gave the tie a final scoreline that, at times during the afternoon, had looked very unlikely.


WGC: Croft, Perrin, Lovell, McGrandles, Welsh, Cifuentes, Smith (Arnott 57), Dimmock, Bronti, Kersey (Parkinson 72), Caswell (Cato 87).

Waltham Forest 2 - 5 Welwyn Garden City FC