Unbeaten Citizens secure 13th victory from 14 league games
PUBLISHED: 09:15 03 December 2014 | UPDATED: 09:15 03 December 2014
Welwyn Garden City preserved their unbeaten SSML Division One record to move second in the table behind near neighbours Hatfield Town, with a 2-1 victory in a physical contest at Harpenden Town’s Rothamsted Park.
The hosts seemed to feel their best chance of ending WGC’s unbeaten start was a heavy-handed approach and racked up the bookings, aided by referee Simpson’s lenient handling of the game.
Harpenden could have finished the first half with nine men had Mr Simpson taken sterner action issuing a red card to home skipper Matt Sutton, when he appeared to be last man as Jason Caswell ran clean through in 14 minutes.
After a trip sent the WGC forward tumbling, Mr Simpson consulted his assistant and only issued a yellow.
Two minutes from the interval, a minor set-to between Harpenden’s Tom Collin and Jay Lovell of the Citizens, ended with Collin lifting the WGC man completely off the ground and dropping him from a height.
Again, after consultation, the referee felt this action only merited yellow to the consternation of the vocal WGC support and most of the team.
In between these incidents, a severely understrength WGC stung the home side with two goals in as many minutes.
They went ahead in 25 minutes, when Aaron Cato picked up a loose clearance and threaded a good ball into the path of Marc Arnott who placed his shot wide of home keeper Matt Lord.
Before Harpenden could respond, Caswell collected a long ball from defence and slipped it sideways to Cato who crashed a fierce 20 yarder past Lord, before the keeper could move a muscle.
Arnott netted another in some style from way out of the left, only to be pulled up for offside and Sam James was inches away from touching in a fine Lovell cross-ball.
The second half was harder going for a WGC side lacking first choice central defensive partnership Liam Kenna and Jack Dekanski, both completing suspensions.
The side was also without Sean Brettell’s thrust down the left and the scoring talents of Joel Norris and Craig Arnott, but a fine defensive display, with Yasin Boodhoo and Carl Costain, playing his 50th WGC game, outstanding, dealt with the best Harpenden could create.
City keeper Joe Croft was forced to make one fine save, when the ball was cut back to the dangerous Harry Hunt, a former Citizen, just past the hour mark.
The home side did get some encouragement 17 minutes from time.
Moments after Arnott had an effort blocked in front of goal at one end, Harpenden broke out down the left, Hunt outpaced Cato and put over a fine low cross and Ben Warren put away only the fourth goal WGC have conceded in the league this campaign.
There was a brief flurry and some anxious minutes for Adam Fisher’s side late in the game, but their defence came through it to see the side notch their 13th win out of 14 this season.
WGC: Croft, Perrin, Costain, Boodhoo, Lovell (Cifuentes 88), James (Ross 76), Smith, Stellon, Cato, Arnott (M) (Jenner 81), Caswell.
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