Welwyn Garden City draw a blank in away loss
PUBLISHED: 08:28 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:28 19 March 2014
Of the eight league defeats the Citizens have suffered this season, Saturday's is likely to prove the most costly.
Adam Fisher’s side visited 14th placed Risborough Rangers, promoted last season, still with hopes of closing the margin between themselves and the division’s leading pair - Sun Postal Sports and Bedford - and ultimately gaining promotion.
This loss effectively extinguished those hopes with 10 games to go. A place in the top four and automatic FA Cup qualification is now the aim.
In a mediocre clash and in one of their worst displays all season, the 82 goal WGC machine stuttered and came to a stop against a side that has scored 50 goals less than them this season. But it was Risborough’s 33rd of the campaign, scored with 22 minutes to go, that made the difference.
The host’s giant central defender Jamie Roberts escaped WGC’s defensive clutches to reach a right-wing cross and power a header past Joe Croft to secure the points.
WGC’s planning was undone before kick-off when Carl Costain, feeling unwell, dropped out of their line-up, replaced by newcomer Sam Oteng, who was one of the few to enhance his reputation on a forgettable afternoon.
Joel Norris shot wide in the opening minutes, but it was one of the visitors’ few first half chances.
Daryl Smith struck a 20 yarder straight at home keeper Clark, but pulled up, suffering a hip injury. He had to be replaced at the interval.
The combined efforts of keeper Croft and skipper Liam Kenna blocked Risborough’s Barnard when he threatened.
The only clear-cut opening of the half fell to WGC and to Smith 10 minutes before the break, Norris set up Juan Cifuentes for a shot, but defender Phillips blocked it in front of goal, the ball sitting up for Smith, but he fired over.
The second half began in similiar vein, Sean Brettell and Norris both wasted early free-kicks and at the other end, Croft made a brave block to keep out home top-scorer Shrimpton.
Even with over half-an-hour left, a goalless stalemate looked the likeliest outcome, until WGC were caught napping from a quick throw-in and cross as Roberts grabbed the winner.
Only once in the closing stages did the visitors go close to levelling, when the subdued Jason Caswell, slipped his markers, but dragged the chance of a club record-equalling 42nd goal of the campaign wide.
To add to their woes, WGC picked up three bookings in a display boss Adam Fisher described as a bad day at the office.