THIS titanic Under 25’s clash at Herns Lane in midweek was a fine advert for the SSML division.
Two very evenly matched sides, both packed with a good mix of experience and youth played out a clash, in which the final result was clearly the right one.
There was a great deal of rivalry between Hertford’s Under -25 side, last season’s SSML champions at the level, managed by former WGC Under-25 manager Neil Draper and containing six ex-WGC players in their squad, all of whom live in the Garden City and the home side, whop scored eight in their last home outing.
WGC took first blood in nine minutes. The outstanding Charlie Rome hit an accurate 20 yard snapshot at the Hertford goal, keeper Simon Dent fumbled it and Ashley Kersey was on hand for the easy task of putting the rebound home.
It took two sharp saves from Olly Leslie in the home goal to preserve the WGC lead, when he twice foiled experienced striker Ben Andreos with smart saves, but the Herns Lane keeper was helpless as Hertford made it 1-1 from the penalty spot, when skipper Save Caliskan brought down tricky winger Davy Edmee and ex-WGC midfielder Daryl Plati slotted in a fine spot-kick.
Jack Francis was taking the eye for WGC and he made one excellent run past three visiting defenders to set up Tatenda Makoni, who blazed wildly over.
Francis then had a go himself, firing in from 25 yards. Again Dent could only parry the effort, but Nathan Isherwood put his rebound effort over from a couple of yards.
The Clarets were struck a major blow when the lost the talented Francis to a heavy challenge, which saw the midfielder helped off with a cut foot and ankle damage.
Keeper Dent did better just before the break, tipping away a Craig Arnott shot after he had been set up by Rome’s shrewd through ball.
Hertford were awarded a second penalty of the game five minutes after the restart. This time substitute Bailey Rose tripped the lively Edmee and again referee Jerrams pointed to the spot. But this time, it was keeper Leslie who won the duel with Plati, pulling off a fine save to push this spot-kick away.
The second 45 minutes couldn’t match the opening half for action, but a third spot-kick of the night was awarded on 65 minutes, given for a tug on Kersey as he burst down the middle. WGC entrusted Arnott with the spot-kick. which he struck powerfully, but wide of the post!
As tempers flared, Hertford boss Draper got sent from the dug-out and the bookings mounted, WGC picking up three, one less than their visitors.
WGC went closest to a decider just before the end, full-back Charlie Holmes swerving a powerful free-kick inches past a Hertford upright.
WGC: Leslie, Caliskan, Budge, Corran, Holmes, Francis (Rose 35), Makoni, Rome, Arnott (Richardson 80), Kersey, Isherwood.