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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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THIS was hardly the preparation WGC boss Adam Fisher was looking for with the new Spartan South Midlands Premier season just a week away.

 

Fisher's new look side were pitted against a Romford team from a standard higher - the Ryman League Div 1 North - but who had just avoided relegation from that division last season, finishing 20th of 24 teams.

 

That said, they looked a class above a somewhat disjointed and lack-lustre WGC, who were hoping to pit themselves against better opposition as an indicator to a good showing on their return to Premier football, after seven seasons' absence.

 

Worse for Fisher was a mystery injury to goalkeeper Joe Croft, sustained after just 14 minutes, with WGC already 1-0 down to the first of the four 'soft' goals conceded.

 

When faced with Romford forward Shoma Barnwell, Croft fell to the ground, even though there appeared to have been no contact, a fact confirmed by match referee Lee Jessup. When physios raced on, he briefly lost consciousness, although revived after a few moments.

 

Helped off the pitch after seven minutes treatment, Croft was taken to hospital suffering from concussion and with a back injury, but was discharged later in the afternoon and was back at Herns Lane by the end of the game.

 

Having suffered concussion, Croft was advised not to play for the next fortnight, leaving manager Fisher with an early season dilemma.

 

The Herns Lane boss had begun with just five of his promotion-cup-winning line-up - Croft, Sam Perrin, Craig Arnott, Daryl Smith and Jason Caswell. There were six others among the substitutes.

 

WGC fell behind to a seventh minute throw-in, Romford striker Nick Reynolds winning a header above the WGC defence to flick on to the far post, where Robbie Norris had a tap-in past Croft from a couple of yards.

 

Following the Croft injury, WGC fielded new youth keeper Marcus Bourne for the remainder of the game and he couldn't be faulted for any of the other goals , showing real maturity.

 

WGC's scorned two good chances to equalise shortly after the opening goal. Sam Perrin provided both with long crosses. Firstly Craig Arnott hesitated and had his shot blocked by Romford full-back Boswell, then Caswell had a better opening, when Boswell failed to cut out the cross, but fired tamely straight at goalkeeper Gooch from six yards.

 

Romford missed a couple of 'sitters' themselves through Barnwell, but then three minutes from the break, doubled their lead, Chris Barry firing an underhit effort through a posse of players with young keeper Bourne unsighted, that somehow found its way into the net, for a 2-0 interval lead.

 

WGC hopes were briefly revived two minutes after the restart, Caswell winning a flick-on to put new winger Josh Bronti through to drive his effort past Romford substitute keeper Omand for 2-1.

 

But as Fisher rang the changes, making six substitutions and bringing on more familiar faces to WGC fans, Romford added two more.

 

There seemed justifiable claims that Yasin Boodhoo had been held down as he slid to make a fine challenge, before Romford set up the move that saw substitute Jordan Thomas tap in their third with 15 minutes to go.

 

Then nine minutes from the end, young keeper Bourne saved well, tipping over substitute Greg Akpelle's effort, only for the marking to go missing from the resulting corner, for Romford's Dean Cossington to score a fourth, also from short range.

 

WGC: Croft (Bourne 14), Perrin (Lovell 45), McGrandles, Mensah (Boodhoo 60), Welsh, Arnott (C) (James 60), Payne (Cifuentes 65), Smith (Bush 67), Bronti, Kersey (Cato 45), Caswell.

Welwyn Garden City FC 1 - 4 Romford