Hadley exact league revenge on in-form Welwyn Garden City for cup exit
PUBLISHED: 10:44 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:08 29 March 2016
Welwyn Garden City's recent mini run of success that has brought them four wins and a draw from their last five outings - two of those victories taking them to cup finals - came to an end at the hands of old rivals Hadley in Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division on Saturday.
Football: WGC v Hadley
Ash Kersey for WGC
Josh Bronti looks to make space
John McGrandles clears the ball
Ash Kersey for WGC
Yasin Boodhoo heads back across goal
Ash Kersey sees this towering header cleared off the line
Jay Welsh sticks in a cross
Craig Arnott lays off the ball
Dave Parkinson for WGC
Craig Arnott slides a ball through
Dave Parkinson holds up the ball
John McGrandles and Carl Mensah combine to clear the ball
For their Potters Bar-based visitors, it was a measure of revenge for the semi-final defeat inflicted by the Citizens on their own ground that took Adam Fisher’s side to the SSML Premier Cup final.
The home side forced a couple of early saves from keeper Charlie Mann but fell behind on 24 minutes.
Dave Parkinson was caught in possession to the right of his own area. The ball was quickly switched to the middle, where Hadley’s Brice Gangadeen set up team-mate Laste Dombaxe who hit a rising effort beyond Kieran Clayton into the net.
The visitors led for just three minutes, WGC capitalising on an underhit backpass from Hadley full-back Gideon Okito that was short of keeper Mann. Parkinson went into a challenge with the keeper and emerged with the ball, which he rolled over the goal-line for 1-1.
The scores remained the same into the second half but Hadley roared out of the traps and four minutes in, the constantly dangerous Ivan Machado rose to a left-wing corner to plant a fine header against the crossbar with keeper Clayton beaten.
The visitors then restored their lead on 57 minutes, when WGC conceded a somewhat needless penalty. John McGrandles pushed Machado in the back with the Hadley striker heading away from goal. Referee Mark Pond pointed to the spot and Elias Moses duly obliged.
Three minutes later WGC almost equalised when Kersey met a Jay Welsh corner with a fine header that beat Mann, but Okito cleared spectacularly off the line. WGC players appealed that the effort had crossed but Mr Pond waved play on.
Moments later another effort this time from Robins suffered the same fate.
As if to confirm that this wasn’t going to be WGC’s half, Hadley stretched their lead with a highly fortunate third goal. Moses and substitute Hasham Benmansour worked the ball down the WGC left, before the sub struck home.
The ball struck the near post and rebounded straight into the luckless McGrandles’ face, from where it ricocheted into the net.
Back came WGC and Parkinson peeled off from the pack to glance another Welsh corner off the Hadley bar, as the Citizens showed they weren’t out of the game yet.
Manager Fisher sacrificed both his full-back to bring on attacking midfielders Craig Arnott and Nathan Dimmock and went to just three defenders.
That allowed Machado chance to bring Clayton to a sharp save to keep the deficit at two, before Price and Parkinson combined to set up Bronti at the other end, but Hadley keeper Mann made a good stop with his feet.
And so it continued to the end, Clayton making two more good saves to foil the dangerous Machado, while Mann made an outstanding double stop to foil Robins when he got clear down the WGC left, to ensure that the status quo was maintained until the final whistle.