Shock FA Vase defeat for Welwyn Garden City at first-timers Cricklewood Wanderers
PUBLISHED: 10:42 02 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:42 02 November 2015
Welwyn Garden City were shocked out of the FA Vase, when they were beaten by the only goal of their tie with Cricklewood Wanderers - a side from two steps lower down the non-league pyramid - in one of the surprise results of the first round proper.
Certainly, a rugged Cricklewood side looked anything but a mid-table side in the Middlesex County League, as their over-physical approach completely unsettled the Citizens, in the tie played at Wembley FC, where the hosts ground-share.
Referee Mr Blower of the London FA certainly justified his name, as his whistle was constantly in his mouth, as he regularly booked players from both sides - Welwyn GC had four cautioned - but was very lenient on the half-hour mark, when Cricklewood’s Zelami brought down Josh Bronti heavily, having already been booked.
Zelami looked destined for a red, but Mr Blower satisfied himself with a long lecture for the midfielder.
But for all their heavy-handed approach, the hosts also had match-winners in the clever scheming and probing of their little midfielder Mohamed Hashim, who deservedly scored the winner in a man-of-the-match performance and their powerful striker Simon Noel, who gave WGC’s back four a torrid time all afternoon.
Cricklewood began with Hashim testing Jamie Jackson in the WGC goal in six minutes with a powerful effort that was fortunately straight at the keeper.
Then winger Albert Aliev outpaced John McGrandles to cut in dangerously, for Yasin Boodhoo to save the day with a sliding tackle.
Boodhoo went up the other end to hit WGC’s first decent effort from 20 yards, but Cricklewood keeper Calvin King, who went on to have a fine game, made the first of four good first-half saves, pushing it around.
King was in action again, holding on to a well struck Jay Welsh 20 yard free-kick, before he made his save of the half, turning away a McGrandles header destined for the top corner, in great style.
Jamie Jackson pulled off a similiar goal-saving effort, racing from his goal to make a crucial block at Aliev’s feet, when the winger had outpaced the entire WGC back-line three minutes from the interval.
WGC closed the half with a dipping volley from Dave Parkinson, that again King tipped around impressively.
Manager Adam Fisher threw on Bobby Dance and Jason Caswell at the start of the second-half, giving himself a four strong forward line alongside Ashley Kersey and Bronti.
But it was Cricklewood, who eight minutes into the half, who found the breakthrough. McGrandles clearly felt he was fouled as the powerful Noel baulked him in racing to the by-line and pulling back a cross that Hashim struck low past Jackson.
The Citizens pressed relentlessly during the final half-hour and the two best chances of an equaliser fell to substitute Caswell.
Firstly, five minutes after the home side had taken the lead, Bronti found room to cross and Caswell, coming completely unmarked, glanced his header wide of an open target.
Then 15 minutes from the finish, McGrandles won a knock-down from a corner, the ball deflected across to Caswell, but King spread himself and blocked the effort from four yards out.
WGC weren’t to come as close again and Cricklewood celebrated wildly at the end, being just one of four sides in the country from their level to make it into the second round proper, at their first attempt in the competition.
WGC: Jackson, Lovell, Boodhoo (Perrin 67), McGrandles, Welsh, Price, Smith, Arnott (Dance 45), Bronti, Kersey, Parkinson (Caswell 45).
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