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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

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

WGC doubled their chances of bringing silverware to Herns Lane on their return season to the SSML's Premier Division, by reaching their second cup final of this campaign.

 

Adam Fisher's side will now meet Berkhamsted, with whom they clash at home on Easter Monday, in the final of the League Challenge Trophy, to be played at Harefield United's Preston Park ground on April 20.

 

That will be a fortnight after their Premier Division cup final with current league leaders Hoddesdon, at Biggleswade United's Second Meadow home on April 6.

 

WGC booked this second final date by beating near neighbours and rivals Codicote in a semi clash switched from Gosling Stadium, to ensure the tie could be staged amid end-of-season fixture congestion.

 

And it was a surprisingly easy passage against opposition who had stunned the SSML with victories over the Premier's top two - Hoddesdon and AFC Dunstable - in the previous two rounds.

 

WGC took control early on and were cruising at 3-0 up with half-an-hour to go, before Codicote staged something of a comeback in the final quarter, having reduced arrears 17 minutes from time.

 

The Citizens, who had keeper Joe Croft and Jason Caswell back in their side, were ' first out of the traps' and Ashley Kersey hit a post in seven minutes, striking a fierce cross from Josh Bronti past Codicote keeper Andrew McEwan and against the woodwork.

 

But the lead was only delayed a minute. In the eighth minute, Dave Parkinson cleverly peeled away from the pack in the area to meet a Jay Welsh corner and glide a fine header past McEwan into the far corner.

 

WGC continued the early surge and Parkinson produced a peach of a pass to put Caswell in the clear, but McEwan slid out well to block the effort with his body.

 

The Herns Lane side continued in the ascendancy throughout the first-half, Codicote failing to provide a single anxious moment for Croft and his defence.

 

Then just past the half-hour mark, WGC doubled their lead. A quick throw-in freed Kersey down the right, he fired over a fierce, first-time cross that was met by powerful volley from Bronti that flew past McEwan for 2-0.

 

WGC could have had a third before the break, when keeper McEwan was put in trouble by a miscued clearance from ex-WGC man Dean Sadler. The keeper tipped it upwards, but Kersey reached it first, only to put it wide of an unguarded goal.

 

Codicote's best opening so far came a minute after the restart, when winger Liam Brookes got the better of Yasin Boodhoo to volley a good chance wide of Croft's post.

 

But WGC made it a three goal lead in 57 minutes with keeper Croft playing a part with an accurate long punt forward that found the head of Parkinson. He cushioned off his header into the path of the waiting Caswell, whose rising volley from close in gave McEwan no hope.

 

But from that point and with 30 minutes still to go, WGC eased off and when on 77 minutes, Codicote substitute Tom Gornall skipped inside two tackles 35 yards out and hit a high, looping effort, that cleared Croft and dropped in for 3-1, the villagers began to believe there might be a chance of a recovery.

 

They dominated the closing quarter and had another glorious chance to reduce the deficit further, when WGC central defender John McGrandles was forced to head against his own crossbar and when the rebound fell to Leeroy Williams, Croft had to make a sprawling save to stop the effort on the goalline.

 

There was no real further alarms for WGC, who as finalists in two cup competitions and with realistic hopes of a top 10 finish, can now consider their first campaign back among the SSML elite, a very satisfactory season.

 

WGC: Croft, Lovell, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Welsh, Mensah (Price 63), Smith, Caswell (Dimmock 84), Bronti, Kersey, Parkinson (Perrin 86).

Codicote FC 1 - 3 Welwyn Garden City FC