Encouraging display in defeat for Citizens
PUBLISHED: 08:59 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 08:59 13 August 2013
THERE was much encouragement for Welwyn Garden City in their opening SSML fixture of the new season, even though it meant Adam Fisher’s tenure at Herns Lane began with a 3-2 loss at Bedford.
The Citizens were pitted against last season’s fifth placed side, who finished the last campaign with a tremendous run that brought them 14 wins, one win and one loss from their final 16 games.
It catapulted them up the table and with the largely the same squad, WGC’s hosts have sights on promotion this season.
In comparison, Fisher’s line-up is largely a new squad, although injuries to Daryl Smith (heel), Brad Jenner (foot) and Ryan Gordon (thigh) and Carl Costain’s suspension from last season, meant five players familiar in the claret and blue, played in this opening fixture.
Five minutes from the end, WGC trailed 3-0 and a heavy opening defeat loomed, but it said much for the never-say-die spirit of Fisher’s side that they pulled goals back two minutes from the end and four minutes into stoppage time, to make the final score a truer reflection of the game.
WGC began well and contested every ball. They also had the first opening of the game, but Jason Caswell blazed over.
All that good work was undone in 14 minutes, when poor marking from a free-kick allowed the unmarked Tom Barnett head past WGC keeper Freddie Hester.
The goal didn’t deflate the Citizens. Paul Taylor, outstanding at left-back, set up Joel Norris, whose underhit shot was saved by Bedford keeper Aaron Bodger and then the home keeper had to race off his line to kick off Caswell’s toes, after Norris produced a fine ball from midfield.
Caswell turned provider in the Citizens’ next chance - a clever crossfield ball that found Ade Osobu running through, but the veteran forward couldn’t control it and the chance was lost.
Simon Dahl picked up WGC’s first booking of the season. Matt McArdle’s pass was intercepted by Bedford’s Ian Thorne, who outpaced three defenders before being tripped by Dahl on the edge of the area. Fortunately for WGC, Jamie Cole’s free-kick was curled wide.
On the hour Fisher introduced Kofi Yeboah, who has been impressing in the club reserves, for Osobu.
Moments later, Isaac Oppong produced a sublime piece of skill to go between two Bedford defenders and create himself a shooting chance, but Bodger managed to turn it around for a corner.
Yeboah had a shot deflected wide, before Bedford doubled their lead with a contentious second on 70 minutes.
From a quickly taken free-kick, full-back Sells overlapped and crossed, Johnson headed back into the area where the Ashley Kersey went up with Hester to nod in a downward header, but seemed to hit the keeper in mid-air. Referee O’Neil, however, saw nothing wrong with the challenge and awarded the goal, despite some protests from WGC players.
Yeboah was joined by his brother Afful, as WGC’s second substitute, replacing Norris, before Caswell missed a chance of putting the side back in the game.
He challenged Bodger for a loose back-pass, dispossessed the keeper and with the goal to aim at managed to place it wide.
That seemed to sum up the Citizens’ day as, seven minutes from the end, Bedford made it three when Gareth Hunt crashed an unstoppable third past Hester.
But two minutes from the end, Caswell produced a defence-splitting pass that sent Afful Yeboah racing through and he lofted an effort over Bodger for it to drop in behind the keeper.
That looked merely consolation until four minutes into seven minutes of stoppage time when Caswell cut in from the left and hit a shot under Bodger for 3-2.
Unfortunately, Mr O’Neil found only a little more injury time and WGC couldn’t make any further impression.
Fisher said afterwards: “There was a lot of spirit in that display. We contested throughout and never deserved to be three down near the end.
“There are players to come in, we missed chances that proved costly, but I’m encouraged.”
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