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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

IN a second-half of a Herts Senior Centenary Trophy tie played in a deluge, WGC rained goals down on hapless village side Whitwell of the Herts County League.


The Citizens cruised into the quarter-finals of a competition they haven't won in over 30 years, with a seven goal second-half barrage that does scant justice to the spirit and battling qualities shown by their hosts for the opening half-hour of this tie.


WGC fielded a strongish side for the tie, although in a 'collective punishment', manager Adam Fisher had all three of his regulars send off in last week's combustible FA Vase defeat by Peterborough Sports - Jack Dekanski, Craig Arnott and Joel Norris - consigned to the bench.


Amazing as it may seem, Whitwell took the lead in this game. Six minutes in, home forward Ryan Foster showed strength and no little technique in holding off a couple of WGC challenges to drive low past Joe Croft into the bottom corner.


For the opening half-hour, WGC were dreadful, unable to come to terms with a bobbly pitch, high wind and deteriorating conditions.


Daryl Smith had effort just over and Aaron Cato hit a 20 yarder - WGC's first effort on target on the half-hour mark - but straight at home keeper Adam Mardell.


It wasn't until the 36th minute that WGC levelled. Jay Lovell planting a ball forward and Marc Arnott collected to chip Mardell and see the effort bounce in, despite frantic Whitwell efforts to clear.


This settled Fisher's side and for the final 10 minutes of the half, they began to get on top, culminating in Cato driving home Sean Brettell's pass two minutes from the break, to give them a barely deserved interval lead.


It was all so different second-half. From the moment, Marc Arnott drove in his second goal through a crowded area just before the hour, WGC took control.


As Whitwell weakened, losing two of their more influential players to injury - defender Jack Robinson and skipper Tom Wilshere, brother of Arsenal's Jack - so the Citizens strengthened, Fisher introducing Norris, Craig Arnott and finally Sam James for the final half-hour.


WGC ran riot. Lovell scrambled in the fourth from a Sam Perrin corner. On 70 minutes it was 5-1 as Norris burst onto a long Joe Croft clearance and drove an emphatic finish just inside Mardell's far post.


Eight minutes from time, Marc Arnott completed his hat-trick, with a fine header over the keeper from his brother Craig's pinpoint cross.


The Citizens closed the tie with three goals in the final five minutes. Norris crashed home his second from another accurate cross on 85 minutes. A minute from time, a Norris centre was cleared out to Cato who fired an unstoppable effort back past the keeper and in stoppage time, Craig Arnott finished with a similar firm drive to net the ninth.


Moments later referee O'Brien ended the carnage, not a moment too soon for a now dispirited and bedraggled Whitwell side, for whom the afternoon had begun so brightly.


WGC: Croft, Perrin, Kenna, Costain, Lovell, Cato, Cifuentes, Smith (James 78), Brettell (Arnott C 68), Arnott (M), Caswell (Norris 62).

Whitwell 1 - 9 Welwyn Garden City FC