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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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WGC bowed out of this year's FA Emirates Cup at the first round qualifying stage to the only goal of a hard fought tie against Cambridgeshire's St Ives Town, from a step higher in the non-league pyramid.

 

But one couldn't help feel that the Citizens's exit was a little timid against superior league opposition from the Southern League Div 1 Central, where they lie fourth.

 

For only in the final half-hour of this tie, did WGC take the game to their opponents and make a real cup-tie of it.

 

For the previous hour, although territorially the game was roughly even, it was St Ives who created all the chances and the fact that WGC were level at 0-0 at half-time, was due to two outstanding Joe Croft saves and some lax finishing on the Cambs side's part.

 

Croft was first in action just seven minutes into the tie. Juan Cifuentes lost possession to St Ives' Jack Higgs, who played his fellow midfielder Peter Clark through and Croft rescued the situation with a fine block with his legs.

 

Clark was behind most good things created by the visitors, but should have done better when winger Joe Peacock's run ended with him cutting the ball back into the midfielder's path, but he struck his shot wide of the target.

 

Ashley Kersey's height and strength were proving WGC's best weapon at this stage and he constantly troubled the St Ives central defensive pairing of De'Ath and Gentle in the air, but no one could latch onto his knock-downs.

 

Defender Gentle even found time to get forward to meet a right-wing Higgs corner and head another good chance over for the visitors, while striker Stuart Eason crashed a further chance past a post.

 

Seven minutes from the break, Croft made an excellent save from St Ives skipper Luke Knight, pushing his goalbound volley onto a post and seeing it rebound to safety.

 

At the other end, St Ives keeper Tim Trebes, once a WGC youth player, scarcely had a worrying moment.

 

And so it continued into the second-half, with most of the 257 Herns Lane crowd returning from half-time, St Ives took the lead in the second period's first attack.

 

Winger Phil Draycott escaped Sam Perrin, cut in and struck his drive against the crossbar. Before WGC's defence could recover, fellow winger Peacock was on hand to bundle the ball home.

 

Slowly but surely after this reverse, WGC began to force their way into the game. Good work by full-back Jay Welsh and Jason Caswell created a shooting chance for teenager Nathan Dimmock, but he finished weakly.

 

Then moments later Cifuentes found Josh Bronti down the right. He got over a good cross and Kersey took off full length to meet it with a diving header that beat Trebes, but was inches wide of the far post.

 

It was far and away WGC's best opening of the game and seemed to have a galvanising effect on them.

 

More good approach work saw Bronti played in down the middle, but he too shot tamely, before boss Adam Fisher introduced last week's match-winner Dave Parkinson for the hard-working, but tiring Kersey.

 

WGC responded by again going close. A subdued Craig Arnott suddenly burst into life, cutting in from the left to have his shot blocked in front of goal by Gentle.

 

Then Arnott produced a fine through ball to send the speedy Parkinson racing into the area, he fired across Trebes and the goal, missing by the far post by millimetres!

 

But St Ives always looked dangerous on the break and their substitute Chae Simons got away, slipped a couple of challenges, rounded keeper Croft, but Carl Mensah kept WGC hopes alive by getting back on the goalline to clear.

 

The visitors also had to perform a goalline clearance themselves three minutes from time. Welsh did well overlapping to get behind the St Ives defence, he cut

 

it back for Bronti to stab goalwards, only for De'Ath to also clear to safety, off the goalline, a clearance that effectively secured St Ives' place in the next round.

 

WGC: Croft, Perrin, Mensah, McGrandles, Welsh, Cifuentes (Smith 75), Dimmock, Arnott (Ross 85), Bronti, Kersey (Parkinson 62), Caswell.

Welwyn Garden City FC 0 - 1 St Ives