Citizens book place in Herts Charity Shield semi-final
PUBLISHED: 09:32 11 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:32 11 November 2015
Welwyn Garden City moved into the last four of the Herts Charity Shield with a 4-2 success over Leverstock Green.
The Citizens beat the Hemel Hempstead side 3-0 at Herns Lane in early October and repeated the feat in this quarter-final with a particularly strong first-half showing.
Their hosts did play the entire second-half with 10 men, after their midfielder Rees McArthur was sent off by referee Stevens for two yellow cards in first-half stoppage time, but, by that time, WGC were 3-1 in front.
There were just 26 seconds on the watch when WGC netted the opening goal of the game.
Midfielder Craig Arnott switched play to the right and Josh Bronti with the first pass of the match.
Bronti rounded his full-back and crossed and Arnott had timed his run to meet the cross and strike it past one-time WGC keeper Sam Marzurek, with less than half-a-minute played.
A swift interception by Jay Lovell, back in the centre of the defence, kept WGC in front as Leverstock Green’s outstanding forward Louis Bircham latched onto a through ball and rounded keeper Jamie Jackson with just seven minutes gone.
Marzurek foiled Bronti when the WGC winger got clear in 15 minutes, pushing the effort away, but Ashley Kersey couldn’t capitalise on the rebound.
But Bronti was only kept at bay for a couple of minutes.
Kersey made a strong run along the by-line and cut back a pass for Bronti to drive low through a crowded area to double the WGC lead in 18 minutes.
Leverstock Green hit straight back and reduced arrears also within three minutes, a run by Curtis Donaldson setting up Chris Blundon, who thrashed an unstoppable effort past Jackson into the top rigging for 2-1.
Mazurek made a fine save to keep out a Kersey close-in effort after Jay Welsh had overlapped down the left to good effect.
However, seven minutes from the break, Bronti timed his run perfectly onto an Arnott through ball, outpaced the Green defence and drove in his second and the side’s third.
As the half closed, a double whammy struck the home side.
McArthur launched into a wild challenge to earn a second yellow and dismissal from the game and moments later, keeper Mazurek indicated to the home bench, that having injured himself making a save from Kersey 10 minutes earlier, he was unable to continue.
Reserve keeper Callum Woods replaced him on the stroke of the interval.
Despite these setbacks, Leverstock Green began the second-half well and 10 minutes after the restart, reduced arrears again, a quick break saw Bircham slot Donaldson through to finish neatly and make it 3-2.
Boss Fisher brought on Joe Price and Levi Gunn for Nathan Dimmock and Kersey and the changes immediately gave WGC more pep.
Within five minutes they had a fourth.
WGC built up down the right flank, Bronti fed Arnott, whose through ball took a fortunate deflection to fall into the path of raiding full-back and skipper Sam Perrin, who raced into the area to drive in his first goal of the season for a clinching fourth.
Once they had a two-goal lead again, WGC didn’t look in any danger in the final 20 minutes and Bronti had two golden chances to complete his hat-trick, when he twice got clear of the home defence.
On the first occasion, a horrible bounce beat him and he fired wide and the second time, replacement keeper Woods did well to block his effort and snatch up the rebound.
WGC will now play Tring Athletic away in the competition’s semi-finals, in a tie that will be played early in the new year.
WGC: Jackson, Perrin, Lovell, Mensah, Welsh, Cifuentes, Dimmock (Price 62), Arnott (Smith 75), Bronti, Kersey (Gunn 62), Caswell.
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