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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

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

THIS was a historic meeting. The first Spartan South Midlands Premier League meeting between these two clubs in nearly 40 years.

 

True, they have met in cup competitions, including one in the SSML Premier Cup earlier this campaign, won 3-2 by the Citizens at the beginning of September. But for a league clash, this was the first since 1976 - 39 years!

 

Certainly, the players of both sides didn't see any significance in the event, in the first-half, giving the dullest 45 minutes seen at Herns Lane this season.

 

Fortunately, it proved to be literally a game of two halves. The second period producing four goals - two exquisitely scored by WGC and two conceded to set pieces in reply - to see Adam Fisher's side somewhat fortunate to share the points, as Stotfold finished the stronger side.

 

The first 45 minutes was dire stuff, although towards the end of a tedious half, Stotfold were the side to threaten, the dangerous Ben L'Honore, giving a taste of what was to come, by bringing Joe Croft to a fine save from a 38th minute free-kick, the keeper seeing the effort late as it came through a crowded area.

 

On the stroke of half-time, Lovell, again WGC's outstanding performer, put in a goal-saving tackle on Stotfold's Drew Cardines as L'Honore played the winger clean through with a fine pass.

 

WGC hadn't had an attack worthy of the name, but that all changed 10 minutes after the restart. Ashley Kersey, who had looked the liveliest of the home attackers, collected on the right, slalomed inside and out of three Stotfold defenders, before unleashing an unstoppable left-foot effort past visiting keeper Adam Harper for a stunning, opening goal.

 

It was an effort totally out of keeping with what we had seen to this point.

 

But the Mid Beds visitors, to their credit, responded immediately. They forced a series of attacks and just four minutes after taking the lead, WGC conceded a penalty, Carl Mensah committing a rash challenge on Stotfold's Mark Ellis leaving referee Simmonds with no option but to award a penalty, which L'Honore crashed confidently past Croft for 1-1.

 

Boss Fisher brought on Joe Price for skipper Daryl Smith and the young midfielder made an immediate impact, winning a crucial challenge and slipping a pass to Josh Bronti out wide.

 

Bronti crossed in low and Bobby Dance met it with a tremendous half-volley that flew past Harper and into the roof of the net for another memorable goal and a 2-1 lead.

 

But again WGC couldn't hold the lead above a couple of minutes. Back came Stotfold and three minutes later, forced a free-kick 20 yards out. Up stepped L'Honore to drive an impressive free-kick through the defensive wall and beyond Croft for 2-2.

 

There were still 15 minutes left, but it was the visitors who looked the more likely to win it and WGC were thankful to keeper Croft for a brave save with his legs, after Stotfold's Fitton had outpaced a tiring Danny Payne to go clear of the home defence.

 

In the final attack of the game, Stotfold swung in a long cross from the left as Croft went up with Ellis. The ball seemed to get trapped between them, bouncing off the visiting striker to go past both and inches past the post, in a very lucky, last minute escape for Fisher's men.

 

WGC: Croft, Perrin, Mensah, Lovell, Welsh, Payne, Dance, Smith (Price 68), Bronti, Kersey (Caswell 73), Gunn (Parkinson 79).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welwyn Garden City FC 2 - 2 Stotfold FC