HERNS Lane was passed fit to play this vitally important top-of-the-table clash just three hours before kick-off and Welwyn GC must have been mightily pleased that it was.
For Adam Fisher’s side turned in a blistering second-half performance to totally outplay a Harpenden side, who went into this game with a point more that WGC, having played three more matches.
WGC now moved second, just one point behind long time leaders Berkhamsted, but with also three games in hand on the West Herts side.
A tight, fairly even, first 45 minutes saw the Clarets with just the edge, although the visitors’ keeper Connor Samson was much the busier, his WGC counterpart Charlie May having an easy afternoon, without having a save to make.
Much of that was down to a home defence, despite lacking John McGrandles (unavailable) and Paul Marks (suspended), that subdued nearly all of Harpenden’s best work.
Dan Bond was WGC’s two goal hero and he troubled the visitors’ defence all afternoon with his power and pace and in the opening three minutes, Harpenden’s Chris Cutler found himself in referee Mr Trinder’s book, when he hauled Bond down.
The visitors had the first clear opening of the game, Brothwood’s through ball put ex-WGC man Sam James in on goal, but he pulled his shot wide of May and the far post.
Samson made a string of outstanding saves in the half, starting with a regulation stop from a Jon Clements low drive that was straight at him.
The pick came in 20 minutes, when Bond pulled back a cross into the path of raiding full-back Jay Rolfe, who cut inside and swerved a fine effort destined for the bottom corner. Samson matched it with an outstanding fingertip save.
Bond got away from full-back Carter again and flashed a fine cross-shot over the face of the Harpenden goal, with no WGC player able to get the vital touch.
Harpenden looked potentially dangerous on occasion, particularly when forward Dewayne Duncan held off Rolfe’s challenge and set up James for his second good opening of the half, but again the midfielder’s curled effort was wide of the far post.
WGC began the second-half in powerful form. In the opening minutes, Kersey forced Samson to another good stop, the keeper turning the effort around the post and three minutes into the half, the Citizens had the ball in the net, Yasin Boodhoo, supporting the attack, volleying in Kersey’s downward header.
But the assistant’s flag ruled it out for offside against the big forward.
WGC weren’t to be disappointed for long. A long cross over from the right saw Bond head down and Samson again make a tip-away save. But this time it dropped by the post and Bond was quickest to react to cleverly back-heel his effort past the keeper and into the opposite corner of the net.
It was the fillip that Adam Fisher’s men needed to dominate the remainder of the game.
They doubled their lead with a spectacular second. A bout of slick passing in midfield saw the ball reach George Ironton, who produced the
pass of the match to split the Harpenden defence and send Bond clean through, to match the pass with an emphatic finish, past Samson for 2-0.
It was almost three, moments later, this time Bond, having his best game since joining WGC from Hertford, put Clements in on goal, but the striker hesitated and keeper Samson managed to scramble the effort away.
Fisher introduced Charlie Rome and Charlie Joy for the latter stages and with Joy’s first contribution, he created WGC’s third.
He intercepted a pass in midfield, set off on a left-wing run to get around full-back Davies and delivered the perfect cross for Kersey to rise and power home a well placed header.
WGC closed the game by netting a fourth time, through Joy, but the effort was ruled out for a push by Kersey, as he challenged Harpenden defender Cartwright, to win the ball in the air.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Boodhoo, Corran, Sexton, Payne (Mensah 85), Spaul, Ironton (Rome 73), Bond, Kersey, Clements (Joy 81).