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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921


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

WELWYN GC's travails into the new year continue.


For the first time under Adam Fisher's tenure as a SSML Premier Division side, they have lost three league games in succession and continue to slip down the table.


Following the defeats at St Margaretsbury and London Colney since 2017 begin, Stotfold became the third successive conquerors of an out-of-sorts Citizens.


The Mid Beds team and WGC certainly have history this season!


It was Stotfold who put the Herns Lane side out of this season's FA Cup, with a very late goal in a 3-2 win in a preliminary round tie back in August and when the sides met again at Stotfold's Roker Park in an October league match, the game was abandoned , following an incident involving James Ewington, now longer with WGC and a member of the crowd.


Both clubs were heavily fined for that incident and the game is to be replayed in March.


And there was another unseemly incident in this game, with 15 minutes left to play.


Sean Brettell, who had only been on the pitch for nine minutes, replacing Ashley Kersey, was badly tackled by Stotfold skipper Jake Long, a player heavily involved in the October abandonment.


As Brettell, who missed all last season with a badly broken leg, lay on the ground in considerable pain receiving treatment, Long stood on the WGC's player's hand, while he was grounded. Brettell retaliated by slapping the Stotfold midfielder in the face.


Fortunately, referee Phil Evans spotted both offences and issued red cards to both players and although tempers frayed and the game threatened to spill over into something like October's bad tempered affair, strong officialdom prevailed and after a lengthy stoppage, the match continued.


WGC can consider themselves unlucky to have lost this one, although on several occasions, Stotfold exploited their woeful lack of pace in defence and Jay Welsh and the recalled Juan Cifuentes, both had to come to the rescue with goalline clearances to keep the game scoreless.


On the plus side, central defender Yasin Boodhoo, seeking his fourth goal in as many games and the outstanding Cifuentes, hit the crossbar in WGC raids.


To stem the flow of goals, manager Fisher brought the experienced Jason Coughlan into his defence at right-back and had central defender John McGrandles available again. Cifuentes and Louis Lee replaced suspended pair Danny Payne (five games) and Ben Long (one) in central midfield.


WGC began in lively fashion and Kersey had an early chance blocked and was inches away from making contact from a Josh Bronti cross after good work by Cifuentes.


On 19 minutes Boodhoo rose highest to a Welsh free-kick to head over Stotfold keeper Nathan Godfrey, only to see his effort clip the crossbar on its way over.


Godfrey made a good save to push away another header from fellow central defender McGrandles to keep the scoreline level, before the visitors had their most dangerous raid of the first-half.


A bad bounce on the heavy pitch caught out Boodhoo, Stotfold's Mark Ellis raced clear and as WGC keeper Jack Metcalfe came out, Ellis shot past him, but Welsh got back on the goalline to make an outstanding clearance.


Again WGC began the second-half in lively fashion. Stotfold's James Smith made a vital clearance for his side to stop a Bronti cross reaching the waiting Taishan Griffith and Kersey flicked a powerful header over from another Bronti centre.


Stotfold broke away again through full-back Paul Morris. He rounded two challenges and shot under Metcalfe, but this it was Cifuentes who got back behind his keeper, to make another goalline clearance.


At the other end, Cifuentes struck a fine 20 yarder that beat keeper Godfrey and slammed against the bar and bounced down on the goalline. The keeper smothered the effort, but with WGC players appealing it had crossed and without the technology of the professional game, Mr Evans clearly couldn't tell and waved play on.


Brettell replaced Griffith and Kersey earned a booking and while all this was going on, Stotfold broke away and struck with the first goal.


From a quickly taken free-kick the ball was worked out to raiding full-back Michael Simpson at the back of the area and he drove a low effort under Metcalfe and inside the post, for 1-0.


The Citizens were clearly shocked and introduced new forward Marcus Campbell for Kersey for the final 20 minutes.


The incident that saw Brettell and Stotfold's Long dismissed extended the game by eight minutes, but six minutes from the end of normal time, the visitors broke free again through Ellis.


He got away from two home defenders and whipped in a fierce shot. Metcalfe made a brave save, blocking with his body, but the luck favoured the away team, as the ball bounced straight back into Ellis's path and he popped the rebound home to leave manager Fisher with the most difficult time he has faced at Herns Lane.


WGC: Metcalfe, Coughlan, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Welsh (Read 83), Cifuentes, Lee, Robins, Bronti, Kersey (Campbell 70), Griffith (Brettell 66).

Welwyn Garden City FC 0 - 2 Stotfold