Welwyn Garden Cup off on another cup adventure after dramatic FA Trophy win over Hythe
- Credit: PETER SHORT
Welwyn Garden City kept their nerve and instantly banished memories of a last-kick equaliser with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Hythe Town in the FA Trophy.
The game at Herns Lane had been hugely exciting even before the roll of the dice from 12 yards, finishing 3-3 with entertainment from the first whistle.
But after twice coming from behind, the Citizens thought they had clinched passage to the second qualifying round and a trip to Ashford Town (Middx) with Jordan Watson's second two minutes from time.
They reckoned without a Liam Smith header deep into stoppage time though, the defender forcing the tie to be settled from the spot.
But here their quality finally shone brightest with Elliot Bailey, man of the match Dave Keenleyside, George Ironton and Jay Rolfe all netting.
Goalkeeper Charlie Crowley did his part in style too with a superb stop from Scott Doe and Darren Oldaker, the last one chipped so harmlessly towards goal that the Welwyn man had time to dive and still change direction to save.
The game had set off on its rollercoaster of emotions in just the second minute, Noel Leighton setting up Tom Walmsley to drive Hythe ahead.
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They led for just seven minutes though, a clever near post corner from Keenleyside allowing Watson to power a solid header into the bottom corner.
But the Isthmian League Division One South East side fought back and after Oldaker had a 35-yard strike ruled out for offside, they retook the lead thanks to Kane Philip getting on the end of a deflected free-kick.
That was half-time but the hosts were never truly out of the game and they were level for the second time just short of the hour.
They were awarded a free-kick when Jordan Kinoshi was brought down and Keenleyside drove an unstoppable, rising effort beyond Godmon into the top corner.
Kinoshi was replaced by George Ironton, back in action after six weeks out with injury, for the final 20 minutes and Jon Sexton went close to finishing it in normal time before Watson thought he had.
Bailey kept the ball alive after a WGC attack and found central defender Carl Mensah wide on the right.
From there the big man drove across a fine hard centre and Watson arrived on the back post to crash in his second.
There was still a sting in the tale though and more drama to come.
Welwyn Garden City: Crowley, Bailey, Mensah, Rolfe, Sexton, Walklin, Close, Keenleyside, Kinoshi (Ironton 69), Watson, Taylor (Campbell-Mhlope 50).