BEATEN play-off finalists Wingate & Finchley were just too sharp for Adam Fisher’s new look Welwyn GC side, in the Citizens’ opening pre-season fixture of the new campaign.
But WGC’s hosts, beaten in the Isthmian (now Bostik) League play-offs last season, only showed the class of a side two divisions higher in the closing stages of this game, played at Wingate’s impressive new training facility in Barnet.
Fisher began with seven of his new close season captures in his first-half line-up, including former Cockfosters trio of Ben Spaul, George Ironton and Jon Sexton. Jon Clements, last season’s top scorer in the division with London Colney, ex-Edgware skipper Paul Marks, former Stotfold midfielder Ben L’Honore and defender Dave Corran, ex-Hitchin and Barton Rovers, also made their debuts in claret and blue.
WGC looked sharp in the opening stages, but suffered a setback when they fell behind in eight minutes, a right-wing Wingate free-kick producing a powerful header over keeper Ollie Leslie that thumped the crossbar. When it bounced down, the rebound was slickly put away for 1-0.
That remained the only goal of the game for the next 50 minutes, as WGC created a chance for Clements after good work by both Marks and Spaul. But the new striker took one touch too many and the home keeper saved at his feet.
L’Honore brought the Wingate & F keeper to a full length save and also struck a first-time effort wide of the far post before a Sexton ball down the left put in Josh Bronti, but he skied his effort over the bar.
Manager Fisher brought on keeper Jack Metcalfe, Jay Welsh, Craig Arnott, Marcus Campbell, Charlie Rome, Sean Brettell and another newcomer in Charlie Joy, recruited from Biggleswade United and it was Welsh, who kept the lead at 1-0 with a goalline clearance early in the second period.
Just past the hour, Wingate & F doubled their lead with a snap shot past Metcalfe moments after trialist Brandon Carney, ex-AFC Dunstable was introduced into the WGC side.
Carney played a part in WGC reducing arrears, pulling off a cross after good work by Welsh and Brettell, that Bronti knocked in from a couple of yards.
But just when it looked as though the visitors were right back in the game, Metcalfe was beaten a second time by a spectacular 30 yard effort into the top corner, after Campbell had been dispossessed on halfway.
To add insult to injury, the home side added a fourth from the penalty spot in the dying minutes, Metcalfe ajudged to have pulled down a Wingate & F forward, for a 4-1 final scoreline that wasn’t really a fair reflection of the game.
WGC still have Ben Long, Yasin Boodhoo, John McGrandles ,Ashley Kersey and newcomer Jay Rolfe, to come into their line-up for future warm-up pre-season games.
WGC starting XI: Leslie, Griffith, Marks, Corran, Sexton, Spaul, Payne, L’Honore, Bronti, Clements, Ironton. Subs:- Metcalfe, Welsh, Rome, Arnott, Campbell, Brettell, Joy and Carney (all used).