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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

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WELWYN GC are the proud, new holders of the SSML League Challenge Trophy.

 

After four previous losing finals and a wait of 43 years, the Citizens finally lifted the league's most prestigious cup in a remarkable final at Harefield last midweek, in which they played the final 42 minutes with 10 men and without a recognised goalkeeper.

 

That followed the sending off of keeper Joe Croft just three minutes after the start of the second-half, when he floored Berkhamsted's two-goal striker Josh Chamberlain after the forward broke clear of the WGC defence.

 

Referee Rayment had little option but to send 'last man' Croft packing and after a short delay and with no goalkeeper on the substitute's bench, central defender Yasin Boodhoo donned the keeper's jersey and gloves.

 

It was just as he had done in a league fixture back in October, in similiar circumstances, when the Citizens lost 4-3 to Broxbourne Boro.

 

The sending off proved a double whammy for Adam Fisher's side, as from the resulting free-kick, Berkhamsted defender Tom Carter struck a low free-kick that Boodhoo managed to push onto a post, but the ball rebounded into the net, giving the West Herts side a 2-1 lead.

 

But WGC responded to the adversity magnificently. Within seven minutes, the 10 men were level. A long Jay Lovell free-kick wasn't cleared by the Berko defence, Danny Payne collected and put over a pinpoint cross and central defender John McGrandles stooped to head past Berko keeper Carl Tasker for 2-2.

 

WGC tails were really up at this stage and they tore into the opposition to go 3-2 ahead on 61 minutes. A long Lovell throw did the damage. Ashley Kersey knocked it on and Dave Parkinson got in front of Tasker to head just over the line. The keeper clawed it back, but the assistant waved his flag vigorously to indicate it had crossed the line.

 

Berko rang the changes, making a double substitution, but it was all WGC and another Lovell throw again caused chaos in the opposition defence. After a

 

bout of head tennis, Berkhamsted captain Jim Baldry headed back to where he thought his keeper was, but Tasker was missing and the ball bounced in for a 4-2 lead and WGC were in ecstasy.

 

Now Berko really applied the pressure and with 15 minutes remaining, Chamberlain impressively cut in from the left and left temporary keeper Boodhoo with no chance, with a left-foot strike into the bottom corner for 4-3.

 

WGC had a major let-off nine minutes from time, the impressive Campana cutting in on the right, to explode a powerful effort that crashed against the bar and bounced away to safety.

 

For the remaining minutes, it was all rearguard action from WGC, as they desperately held on. But hold on they did, to provoke wild celebrations at the final whistle.

 

It was a deserved win, after the disappointment of losing the Premier Cup final 1-0 to Hoddesdon a fortnight before.

 

WGC were always the livelier side in this final and dominated the opening stages.

 

A fine ball by Sam Perrin put Josh Bronti through in seven minutes, but Tasker saved with his legs.

 

The Berko keeper also made a sharp save from Parkinson in the opening quarter as WGC had clearly settled the better.

 

Then in 22 minutes, a free-kick from Parkinson just outside the area, crashed against the foot of the post. The rebound came out to a surprised Kersey, whose return effort suffered the same fate, striking the same post!

 

So it was totally against the run of play when Berkhamsted took a 32nd minute lead, with an unstoppable drive from 25 yards from Chamberlain that flew in past Croft.

 

But WGC were only behind for four minutes. A crossfield ball sent Parkinson down the left, he cut back a fine cross and Kersey, hanging back, drove in a low effort past Tasker into the corner for a 1-1 scoreline at the break.

 

Little did we know at that stage, all the drama and excitement that was to unfold in the second 45 minutes.

 

WGC: Croft (Boodhoo 48), Perrin, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Lovell, Payne, Smith, Robins (Caswell 79), Bronti (Welsh 84), Kersey, Parkinson (Mensah 79).

Welwyn Garden City FC 4 - 3 Berkhamsted