Debutant seals Citizens’ passage into Charity Shield last eight

PUBLISHED: 11:37 06 August 2015 | UPDATED: 11:37 06 August 2015

Welwyn Garden City's Josh Bronti on the ball. Picture by Richard Kreider

Welwyn Garden City's Josh Bronti on the ball. Picture by Richard Kreider

SportsWest Media

Welwyn Garden City opened their competitive season with a win over Essex Senior Leaguers Sawbridgeworth that takes Adam Fisher’s side into the last eight of this season’s Herts Charity Shield and to an away tie at Leverstock Green, which won’t be played until mid-November.

A strong second-half showing just about gave WGC the edge in a tough first round tie against the third Essex Senior League opposition they have played in the build-up to their return to SSML Premier football.

With this victory, Fisher’s men have notched up a hat-trick of wins over clubs from that standard, having beaten Clapton and Enfield 1893 in pre-season warm-ups.

A goal in the opening attack of the second-half decided this entertaining tie. Most spectators had barely resumed their positions for the second 45 minutes, when Jason Caswell flicked on a long clearance from the back, into the path of newcomer Josh Bronti, who beat Sawbo keeper Elliott Cockrell with a well-struck effort - a near carbon copy of the goal he had scored against Romford, four days earlier.

WGC looked altogether better from the opening minute of this clash than they had done in that game. The industrious Danny Payne driving a shot wide in the game’s first attack.

Mason Bush then shot into the side netting, after a neat dribble along the by-line, before Sawbo had their first clear chance, Charlie Cole played clean through, only for WGC’s new keeper Jamie Jackson to make a fine save with his legs in 15 minutes.

The impressive Payne hit two 20 yarders that forced Cockrell to make scrambling saves in a nip-and-tuck affair, before Jackson was forced to a similiarly good save to his first, this time from the visitors’s Joe Ricketts.

Bush couldn’t turn home an impressive Bronti cross from a couple of yards in front of goal on the half-hour mark and then held his head in his hands as he scorned the best chance from either side, shooting wide with the goal at his mercy, from Bronti’s through ball.

Jason Caswell closed the half with a slick shot on the turn, saved by Cockrell, after fine work by full-back Jay Lovell.

But Bronti broke the deadlock as soon as the second-half resumed and once in front, WGC began to take control.

In a rare Sawbo attack, new keeper Jackson, replacing the injured Joe Cole, sidelined for a fortnight, made his third good stop of the game, again from Ricketts on the near post.

But it was largely WGC who dominated the latter stages, although they didn’t create the clear-cut opportunities of the first 45 minutes.

Manager Fisher rang the changes mid-way through the half, using three substitutions, one of whom was Craig Arnott, who had the side’s best second-half effort, a long-range free-kick that dipped inches over the bar.

Full-back Sam Perrin made his 100th WGC appearance in this victory.

WGC: Jackson, Perrin, Costain, McGrandles, Lovell (Welsh 63), Cifuentes, Payne, Smith (Arnott 68), Bush, Caswell, Bronti (Parkinson 73).

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