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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

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

WELWYN GC saved one of their poorest 45 minute showings of the season for this much anticipated second meeting of these near-neighbours in the Easter derby.

 

A very poor defensive display by the Citizens in the opening half saw Adam Fisher's side two goals in arrears and very fortunate not to be further behind - Hatfield missing a penalty midway through the half - as the home side took revenge for their 3-2 reversal at Herns Lane over Xmas.

 

WGC did improve in the second half and towards the end of a disappointly, poor encounter, showed glimpses of the form that have taken them 10 points clear at the head of the SSML Division 1.

 

A late strike by Joel Norris, just as the game was entering stoppage time, was too late to affect the outcome, but a 3-0 defeat for Bedford FC, away at Crawley Green maintained WGC's 10 point advantage over both them and victors Hatfield, who drew level with the Bedfordshire side, with this victory.

 

A very uncharacteristic mistake by Yasin Boodhoo, outstanding in recent weeks, gifted Hatfield the lead in seven minutes, as he miskicked completely in front of his own goal, to gift ex-WGC man Jason Coughlin a chance two yards out, to put the home side in front.

 

It was desperately poor fayre for the bumper 140 crowd, ninety per cent of whom were supporting the Claret and Blues, although Norris looped a header over the Hatfield bar, after Daryl Smith had done well to retrieve an overhit Sean Brettell free-kick.

 

On 22 minutes it was 2-0, full-back Jay Lovell and keeper Joe Croft got in a tangle over who was clearing a Ben Alexander cross-shot and Steve Harper popped in the Hatfield second.

 

Four minutes later, WGC conceded a penalty, Boodhoo, having a poor, opening 45 minutes, adjudged by referee Saggers to have brought down Hatfield's Matt Hodges. Midfielder Ben Collins spared the Citizens more indignity by driving his spot-kick well wide, in a major reprieve.

 

But WGC couldn't cash in on the good fortune, their best of a dismal half was when Brettell drove an Aaron Cato lay-off across the face of the Hatfield goal.

 

There was the promise of something better in the opening minutes of the second-half, when Norris fired their first attack just wide.

 

But that early promise soon fizzled out and the game lapsed in a very sterile affair, Hatfield happy to hold what they had and WGC showing little sign of being able to break down a stubborn defence.

 

Manager Fisher introduced Sam James and both Arnott brothers and in the closing stages, it began to marginally improve.

 

Had Brettell done better than drive just wide after a Norris-Caswell combination had played him in with 14 minutes to go, WGC might have got something from the game.

 

They hit the Hatfield woodwork with three minutes remaining, a long James throw, flicked on by Boodhoo's head for a Marc Arnott header to be tipped onto the crossbar by Hatfield keeper Buck, kept the Citizens scoreless.

 

That was until the 90th minute, when a long goal-kick was headed back into the path of Norris 25 yards out, who hit a spectacular, dipping volley over Buck and into the net - a top quality goal, so out of keeping with a game that was just the opposite.

 

WGC: Croft, Perrin (Arnott C 61), Boodhoo, Dekanski, Lovell, Cato (James 61), Cifuentes (Arnott M 77), Smith, Brettell, Caswell, Norris.

Hatfield Town 2 - 1 Welwyn Garden City FC