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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921


Herns Way, Panshanger, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL7 1TA

WGC brought the curtain down on another Spartan South Midlands League campaign, by finishing a highly creditable fourth on their return to the Premier Division.


Despite a single goal defeat to newly crowned champions AFC Dunstable, WGC just edged out Berkhamsted by virtue of a better goal difference, to claim fourth spot that earns them exemption through the early, qualifying rounds of next season's FA Vase.


It completed a very successful season back in the top flight for the club, as new holders of the league's most prestigous trophy - the League Challenge Trophy - losing finalists in the SSML Premier Cup final and now, fourth place in the table.


Unfortunately, this wasn't much of a match to serve before a bumper crowd of 158 , bouyed by those attending the club's adjacent Fun Day, between the new league trophy holders and the new champions.


It was a game in marked contrast to WGC's recent end-of-season form, that has seen them win seven of their last nine league games.


There was little to record in the opening 20 minutes, the best efforts being a Carl Mensah header that was easily held by Dunstable's stand-in keeper Matt Langston and a low Ashley Kersey effort, after the big striker had done well to shake off defender Cashman's attentions, that also didn't trouble Langston unduly.


The most notable incident of the opening half-hour was an injury to match referee Martyn Cannon, who pulled a muscle so badly, that the official couldn't continue after treatment. He was replaced by assistant Deryll David and WGC volunteer Robert Poole, himself a Level 6 referee, took over on the line.


In the space of two minutes, both sides had their best chance of the half. On 37 minutes, WGC were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out. The in-form Dave Parkinson, scorer of 13 goals in the last 16 games, struck it hard and low.


The ball rebounded off keeper Langston to Mensah a couple of yards out, but he struck the keeper with his effort and after an almighty scramble, AFC cleared.


They went straight down the other end, Nathan Frater got over a fine cross to find top scorer Bernie Christie, but again, from a couple of yards, he headed straight at WGC keeper Joe Croft.


It was deep into stoppage time - five minutes, in fact - for the referee's injury, that AFC scored the game's only goal.


From a left-wing corner, Christie got in a much better header that cleared Croft and struck the crossbar. When the rebound bounced down, AFC Dunstable's top scorer reacted quickest, to put the loose ball away, in the last attack of the half.


The second-half was even poorer fayre. AFC introduced substitute Jermaine Hall and he seemed to get away with a handball to set up Roy Byron, who struck an acceptable chance for a Dunstable second, wide.


WGC were finding it hard and their best effort of a forgettable 45 minutes saw Kersey rise well to a Jay Welsh free-kick, but put his header straight into Langston's arms.


The new champions finished the stronger and Frater tested Croft with a well struck drive and almost on time, the WGC keeper had to kick away a goalbound effort from the visitors' skipper Moses Olaleye, to prevent a heavier defeat.


The game also represented a last appearance for WGC skipper Daryl Smith, retiring through a combination of personal reasons and continued injury, after five years with the club.


His teammates accorded him a guard of honour, as he left the pitch at Herns Lane for the final time.


WGC: Croft, Perrin, Boodhoo, Mensah, Welsh, Payne, Smith (Lovell 85), Price (Rashid 63), Bronti, Kersey, Parkinson.

Welwyn Garden City FC 0 - 1 AFC Dunstable