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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

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

PROMOTION back to the SSML Premier is undoubtedly the main aim of everyone at Herns Lane, but this Herts Senior Centenary Trophy quarter-final at Hitchin's Top Field, probably represented the Citizens' best chance of silverware this season.

 

They and their hosts were the last SSML Div 1 sides left in the competition, along with three semi-finalists from the Herts County League. The winner of tie would be hot favourites to land the Trophy.

 

As it was, WGC manager Adam Fisher shuffled his playing pack, resting key players Daryl Smith and Sam Perrin, both a booking away from a suspension, had wide players Sean Brettell and Sam James on the bench and switched Yasin Boodhoo from defence to midfield.

 

Frankly, none of it worked, as a WGC line-up totally lacking width in the first-half played a scrappy, lack- lustre first 45 minutes, in which they fell behind to a stoppage time penalty at the end of the half.

 

They rallied to equalise at the start of the second, threatened briefly and then were outmuscled and outpowered in the final 30 minutes of the tie to lose convincingly.

 

It was their equal heaviest defeat of the season, along with the 5-2 loss to Colney Heath in the SSML League trophy, when the Citizens finished with eight men!

 

A very scrappy opening didn't have a serious effort on goal, until Baldock's Lewis Barker drove a corner past a post in 15 minutes.

 

WGC only produced one cohesive move in the first-half, but a fine one it was.

 

Jason Caswell began it and it featured him and the Arnott brothers - Craig and Marc - swapping passes to play Craig Arnott in on goal, where he rolled his effort past Baldock keeper Stilwell only to see the effort hit the foot of the post.

 

Jay Lovell might have been lucky to escape with a yellow card when he brought down Baldock's Tom Oram, after a poor Craig Arnott free-kick had seen the

 

home side break out in numbers, but in stoppage time at the end of a forgettable half, Juan Cifuentes was left as last man in another Baldock break and referee Ball ruled he had brought Lee Pateman down unfairly to award a penalty that Luke Gregson rolled home in the last action of the half.

 

WGC introduced Sean Brettell for Boodhoo immeditately after half-time and within four minutes Brettell made his presence felt, latching onto a Craig Arnott pass to drive his shot through keeper Stilwell for the equaliser.

 

But the goal had a bizarre effect on the game. Rather than rally the Citizens, it seemed to prove a spur to a rampant Baldock to dominate the rest of the game, particularly the last half-hour.

 

The impressive Ian Morrison brought a fine save from Freddie Hester with a well struck drive, the keeper going full length to turn it away. Jack Dekanski had to make an timely interception after Hester was caught yards off his line by Pateman's attempted lob and Caswell got back to clear off his own goalline, when Baldock's Jack Gregson slipped between a trio of WGC players to shoot goalwards.

 

A second Baldock goal seemed it had to come and it did when Oram found himself in space. Hester got caught halfway between coming out and staying and the home forward drove past him for 2-1 on 74 minutes.

 

NIne minutes later Oram had a second, when Barker pulled a cross back to him, the Baldock forward drove hard and low into the bottom corner.

 

Two minutes from time, Jack Gregson dragged three WGC defenders into the corner and tricked the lot and then went down with an elaborate dive. Mr Ball awarded the free-kick that was touched past keeper Hester from short range by the taker's brother Luke Gregson.

 

WGC's only previous reverses this season have also been in cup competitions. The loss to Thurrock in the FA Cup, going out in extra time to Peterborough Sports in the Vase, the controversial defeat to Colney Heath in the SSML Trophy and a penalty shoot-out loss to Leverstock Green in the Charity Shield.

 

But there was no doubt that this defeat was easily the most abject of them all.

 

WGC: Hester, Jenner (James 75), Kenna, Dekanski, Lovell, Cifeuntes, Stellon, Boodhoo (Brettell 45), Arnott (C), Caswell, Arnott (M) (Norris 67).

Baldock Town 4 - 1 Welwyn Garden City FC