WELWYN GC eased into the second round of the Herts Senior Cup with this narrow victory over Leverstock Green, in the second meeting of the sides in four days.
But this time, the victory which earned the Citizens a trip to Bostik League Ware in early December, in the next round, had none of the drama or excitement of the previous clash, a 2-2 draw the previous Saturday.
Then WGC preserved their unbeaten run, that now extends to 20 games, thanks to a stoppage time, last gasp equalizer from full-back Jay Rolfe.
This time, the tie was won by a very early goal – a second minute effort from U-25s regular Reggie Ross – that proved the deciding factor in a largely forgettable encounter on a cold night.
Manager Adam Fisher rang the changes for this one.
He left out five of the mainstays of his league side that have taken WGC to second in the table, altogether in keeper Charlie May, defenders John McGrandles and Dave Corran, midfielder Ben Spaul and leading scorer Jon Clements. In addition, he had two other regulars – Yasin Boodhoo and Charlie Joy – on the bench.
Fisher brought in a trio of U-25’s players, keeper Ben Watson, defender Harry Budge and forward Ross into the line-up, with three others, Jack Francis, Nathan Studholme and Odedayo Dixon among the substitutes. Marcus Campbell and Jay Welsh also had their first outings of the season.
In their first real attack, WGC were ahead. Josh Bronti made a strong run down the right, got over a fine cross and Ross waiting on the back post, placed a powerful header past keeper Doyle-Creamer.
In a slow start, Leverstock Green tried to respond. Acting skipper Paul Marks got in a fine block on Green’s Curtis Donaldson, as he attempted a shot on the turn and winger Ross Adams drove over the bar, when a clearing header came out to him.
Then just past the half-hour, young keeper Watson pulled off the save of the night, turning Rey Carbon’s placed effort for the top corner, over in flying style.
The visitors had the best of the chances and came within a whisker of an equalizer just after the interval, when defender Liam McCrohan came forward to meet Carbon’s deep cross to head over Watson and against the crossbar.
WGC came close to a second seven minutes from time, Saturday’s hero Rolfe came forward to deliver a fine ball that put substitute Joy in on goal.
He lobbed keeper Doyle-Creamer, but with the ball bouncing tantilisingly towards goal, visiting skipper Shane Woods got back to clear off the line.
It was to prove the last real effort of a forgettable game, as WGC progressed in their fifth cup competition of the season so far.
WGC: Watson, Rolfe, Budge, Marks (Boodhoo 75), Welsh, Long, Rome, Ironton, Bronti (Joy 61), Campbell (Dixon 77).