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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

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

THIS promised to be a difficult afternoon for Chris Benton.

 

The Herns Lane number two was in charge of the side in manager Adam Fisher's absence and late in the preparations, found himself having to go in goal with regulars Joe Croft injured and new keeper Kieran Clayton, unavailable.

 

But the WGC assistant-manager, playing his first game between the posts in well over a year, rolled back the years to keep a clean sheet, was well protected by his back four and still found time to steer his side to their best away victory since the very early days of the season.

 

WGC were also without suspended skipper Daryl Smith and injured Luke Robins (head injury), but gave a debut to new striker Yasir Rashid, signed recently from London Colney, who made a very impressive bow and crowned it with a goal from the penalty spot.

 

Opponents Stotfold, comfortably just below half-way in the table, were also short-handed and looked like a side for whom the season couldn't end soon enough.

 

Stotfold's Zekri had the first effort of the game, after Yasin Boodhoo miscued a header, but struck it well over the bar.

 

New boy Rashid had WGC's first reply, latching onto Carl Mensah's through header, but fired over Stotfold keeper Harry Pilsworth's crossbar.

 

WGC looked impressive, as good build-up involving Rashid, Joe Price and Dave Parkinson saw the winger bring a sharp, diving save from Pilsworth, before the lively Rashid made a fine interception and played Ashley Kersey in for the best chance of the opening half-hour, but the finish bobbled aimlessly wide.

 

That was on the half-hour and two minutes later Kersey did much better when Parkinson cleverly flicked on a Boodhoo through ball. Kersey battled past two defenders before lifting his effort over Pilsworth for 1-0.

 

Ten minutes later WGC had doubled their advantage from the penalty spot. Parkinson sent Rashid through and he was taken down by Kwygie just inside

 

the area. There was a several minute delay, while referee Mr Ball consulted one of this assistants, but it didn't distract Rashid, who took the kick himself and confidently put it away for a 2-0 half-time lead.

 

Stotfold briefly threatened at the start of the second-half and WGC had an escape seven minutes in, when home full-back Paul Morris burst down the left and flashed a fierce cross-shot across the visitors' goal that struck the crossbar and bounced out.

 

Emergency keeper Benton then made a good save when Stotfold substitute Mark Ellis fired in a strong effort from the left, but WGC went closer, to a third, when a long goal-kick from Benton eluded the home defence to put Parkinson in, but he lobbed a golden chance over the bar.

 

Young Stotfold keeper Pilsworth produced the save of the match in 73 minutes from a Jay Lovell screamer 25 yards out that was arrowing towards the top corner. Somehow, Pilsworth managed to get across and tip it over.

 

WGC made a couple of changes for the final quarter, bringing on the experience of Jay Welsh and John McGrandles before they made it three five minutes from time, Parkinson battling down the right, outstripping two challenges, before pulling it back for Kersey to net his second and the side's third.

 

Two minutes, substitute Welsh raced clear down the left from a powerful Boodhoo header and unselfishly squared it across goal for a Parkinson tap-in - his sixth goal in seven games - to complete the four goal rout.

 

WGC: Benton, Perrin, Mensah, Boodhoo, Lovell, Payne, Price, Dimmock (McGrandles 84), Kersey, Rashid (Welsh 78), Parkinson.

Stotfold 0 - 4 Welwyn Garden City FC