WELWYN GC won for the first time in recent seasons at Wembley’s Vale Farm ground, to maintain their promotion push.
The venue has been far from a happy hunting ground for Citizens’ boss Adam Fisher in his four seasons at Herns Lane.
His side have lost on both their last visits there and it was at Vale Farm that WGC were dumped out of the FA Vase two years ago, 1-0 by Middlesex County Leaguers Cricklewood Wanderers, in one of the shocks of the round.
But thanks to what is becoming a WGC speciality – late winning goals - the Citizens did it again against a home side lying eighth in the table and are always a tough proposition on their own ground.
This time there were seven minutes left of normal time, when WGC struck with a fine winning goal, totally out of keeping with the match generally, which was a dour, attrional affair.
It was started by a long goal kick from keeper Charlie May. His kick found the head of substitute Charlie Joy, who flicked it into the path of recently signed striker Daniel Bond, who showed great pace in outstripping several Wembley defenders before finishing with an emphatic strike into the top of the net.
The entire WGC bench danced with delight as for almost all the laboured 90 minutes, a goalless draw looked the likeliest outcome.
WGC went into the game without top scorer Jon Clements and defensive lynchpin Yasin Boodhoo, both serving one match bans for five cautions.
Boss Fisher reshuffled his side, playing skipper Danny Payne at the back and introducing Paul Marks’ steel into his midfield, alongside Ben Spaul and George Ironton.
Ironton had the first chance of the game in two minutes, when Josh Bronti pulled over a cross from the right, but the midfielder dragged his shot well wide.
Bronti then went close in 13 minutes, put through by Ashley Kersey’s headed flick-on, but keeper Karamoko foiled the winger with a close-in save.
The game then went into a lengthy lull with neither side able to carve out any openings and WGC keeper Charlie May had the easiest games, not having to make a serious save in the entire 90 minutes.
Seven minutes from the break, WGC had the best chance so far, a series of neat passes ended with Ironton playing eventual matchwinner Bond through, but his placed effort was wide of the post.
Two minutes from the break, the Citizens had to replace defender Dave Corran (hamstring) with Jay Welsh.
Skipper Payne powered a header from a free-kick wide in the early minutes of a second-half that also struggled to pick up the tempo.
WGC introduced Charlie Joy and Charlie Rome for an ineffective Kersey and an injured Marks and in 72 minutes, Bronti squandered a chance to break the deadlock, his control letting him down and Karamoko was able to save.
The Citizens were finishing much the stronger of the sides and Karamoko saved from an Ironton volley and with his legs to keep out a
Bond effort, before the striker earned three more valuable points on a mixed weekend of results among the promotion hopefuls
Leaders Berkhamsted and third placed Harpenden also won, while Biggleswade were held to a draw and Leighton and Hoddesdon both lost, among the chasing pack.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Payne, McGrandles, Corran (Welsh 43), Marks (Rome 70), Spaul, Ironton, Bronti, Kersey (Joy 57), Bond.