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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 recovered well from the disappointment of the previous week's FA Vase exit by giving their best display in weeks to soundly beat lowly Leighton Town, on the Beds club's first visit to Herns Lane in 25 years.

 

Hero of the afternoon for the Citizens was midfielder Sean Brettell, who scored his first hat-trick for the club in only his fourth full game this season, following an 18 month recovery from a horrenduous broken leg injury.

 

Although two of his goals were from the penalty spot, there was great delight among the Herns Lane faithful, when Brettell, playing left-side midfield after a couple of games at full-back, tucked away a chance in open play on the hour to complete the trio of goals.

 

It was WGC's first league win over Leighton since 1986, after some 20 meetings between the clubs - albeit not in recent seasons with the visitors being in the Southern League.

 

This was the Citizens' best display in weeks. They scored in their opening attack in two minutes. From a long Ben Long throw, Ashley Kersey back upfront after missing last week's Vase exit, got in a close range effort. Leighton keeper Jack Sillitoe tipped it away, but only to Emmanuel Melford-Rowe, who put the away the close-in chance for 1-0.

 

Melford-Rowe, cup-tied for the Vase clash with Ely, went on to have a storming game upfront for WGC, his best since joining the club from Cockfosters.

 

On 10 minutes, Melford-Rowe turned provider with a fine through ball for Taishan Griffith, playing in a more forward role in the unavailable Josh Bronti's absence.

 

Griffith's pace threatened to outpace Leighton full-back Norton, who took him down from behind. referee Snuggs immediately pointed to the spot and Brettell, taking over Bronti's usual spot-kick duties, slammed in his first.

 

Six minutes later, Kersey did well to hold up a through ball and lay it back into Melford-Rowe's path as he burst into the area, only to have his legs taken from under him. Again Mr Snuggs had no doubt about the award and although he ordered a re-take due to encroachment, Brettell emphatically netted both kicks for 3-0.

 

But having raced to such a dominant advantage, WGC started to slacken off midway through the half and Leighton became more of a presence.

 

Just before the half-hour, Leighton skipper Martin Griggs hit a WGC post with a shot that just winged wide and the speedy Lorell Smith outpaced the home backline to fire just past a post, to show the visitors were still in the game.

 

In first-half stoppage time, Leighton did pull a goal back with the third penalty award of the afternoon, WGC keeper Jack Metcalfe pulling down the lively Smith after the Leighton forward had got the better of the home central defenders. Griggs stepped up to reduce arrears to 3-1 at the break.

 

Leighton did threaten a further revival at the start of the second-half, Vincenzo Greco being just off the mark with a long range effort before WGC restored their three goal lead on the hour. Kersey burst through, but keeper Shillitoe halted the big forward's effort, Griffith returned the ball to find Brettell who picked his spot for his hat-trick.

 

At this point, WGC introduced the returned Juan Cifuentes, who re-joined the club from Colney Heath in midweek, for Ben Long.

 

A slip from the otherwise reliable John McGrandles let Griggs in along the by-line and the Leighton skipper struck the WGC woodwork for a second time in the match, with his powerful close-shot .

 

Five minutes from the end, Leighton reduced arrears further with a second goal - a freakish 40 yard effort from substitute Craig Maisiri way out on the left - that cleared the entire WGC defence and keeper Metcalfe to land in the back of the net.

 

But deep into stoppage time, the Citizens added a fifth, Kersey bullocking through in the very heavy conditions, onto a long ball from the back, to slot in a deserved goal and round off a five star performance.

 

WGC: Metcalfe, Coughlan, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Welsh, Payne, Long (Cifuentes 63), Brettell (Read 78), Griffith, Kersey (Chambers 90+2), Melford-Rowe.

Welwyn Garden City FC 5 - 2 Leighton Town