Four for Caswell in Welwyn Garden City Trophy triumph
PUBLISHED: 16:17 17 October 2013 | UPDATED: 16:17 17 October 2013
Star striker Jason Caswell’s first four-goal haul in senior football just about got Welwyn Garden City through this first round Herts Senior Trophy tie and preserved their long-standing unbeaten record on Saturday.
The Citizens have gone 13 games without defeat in boss Adam Fisher’s first term in charge, but that impressive, unbeaten run was never under greater threat that in this cup clash.
Standon & Puckeridge of the County League stretched WGC to the limits and led them for the middle third of the game when a real shock looked on the cards.
WGC fielded a strong line-up only missing the unavailable defender Simon Dahl and injured midfielder Juan Cifuentes.
Top scorer Joel Norris dipped over a 20-yard free-kick in the early minutes. The visitors showed early on they would be far from pushovers as Anthony Miles hit a long-range effort straight at WGC keeper Joe Croft and Bradley Ratcliff fired past Croft’s post in the opening quarter.
James Endacott then forced Croft to turn away a snapshot before Caswell first made his presence felt, running onto Isaac Oppong’s through ball to crash in the opening goal high into the net in 24 minutes.
The lead lasted just three minutes, Standon equalising when midfielder Greg Douglas struck a low effort past Croft for 1-1.
Keeper Nathan Ratcliff, one of two of Standon manager ex-Stevenage and Derby keeper Steve Ratcliff’s two sons in the side, made a fine stop from Daryl Smith.
Six minutes from the break, the County League side shocked the Herns Lane faithful by taking the lead.
Douglas’s dink into the goalmouth was met by a volley from Endacott that gave keeper Croft no chance.
WGC replaced Perry Stellon with Bradley Jenner at the break and Sean Brettell pushed forward.
The half’s first chance fell to Brettell who hit a powerful effort into the side netting, but it was Standon who went closer, Bradley Ratcliff’s through ball for Endacott saw his effort beat Croft and hit the angle of post and bar.
Fisher made a double change, bringing on Ade Osobu and Ben Awad for Norris and injured skipper Liam Kenna. Within a minute it sparked an equaliser; Smith challenged Nathan Ratcliff in the air and hooked the ball clear after the collision, it fell to Caswell who found the top of the net.
Standon & Puckeridge felt their keeper had been fouled, but referee Steele awarded the goal.
The visitors responded and Chris Babbage brought Croft to another good save to preserve the lead.
Both sides had chances to prevent extra-time, but could not take them.
Only excellent work by Nathan Ratcliff between the Standon posts prevented WGC taking the lead in the first period of extra-time as he stopped shots from Caswell and Osobu and a header from Smith.
Just before the break Awad played Smith through and as he rounded the keeper he was pulled down.
Referee Steele awarded the penalty and sent the keeper off and he was replaced in goal by his brother.
Caswell slotted in the spot-kick - WGC’s first successful penalty in four attempts - for his hat-trick goal.
The tie seemed sealed two minutes from the end as Caswell made a run from halfway through a tiring Standon defence to crash in his fourth.
But in the game’s final attack Endacott crossed and Douglas’ volley took a deflection to beat Croft to bring the scoring to an end.
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