Our end of season report for Welwyn Garden City

PUBLISHED: 10:36 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:41 20 April 2020

Lee Close of Welwyn Garden City runs to celebrate the winning goal with corner kick taker George Ironton of Welwyn Garden City during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019

Lee Close of Welwyn Garden City runs to celebrate the winning goal with corner kick taker George Ironton of Welwyn Garden City during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019

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With the football season now over for all non-league club from step three down, Welwyn Hatfield Times sports reporter Neil Metcalfe reviewed the season for Welwyn Garden City. Here’s his end-of-year report.

Eusebio Da Silva of Welwyn Garden City scores the winner for Welwyn Garden City from a corner during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019Eusebio Da Silva of Welwyn Garden City scores the winner for Welwyn Garden City from a corner during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019

Team name: Welwyn Garden City

Division: Southern League Division One Central

Final position: 4th (29 of 38 games played)

Welwyn Garden City celebrate George IrontonÕs equalising goal during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019Welwyn Garden City celebrate George IrontonÕs equalising goal during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019

FA Cup: Preliminary round (lost 2-0 at Wingate & Finchley)

FA Trophy: Extra-preliminary round (lost 4-1 at home to Canvey Island)

Dylan Ebengo of Welwyn Garden City puts in a cross during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019Dylan Ebengo of Welwyn Garden City puts in a cross during Welwyn Garden City vs Wantage Town, BetVictor Southern League Football at Herns Way on 17th August 2019

Season grade overall: A-

Their first year in the Southern League was a turbulent one and the safety that was eventually achieved was a blessed relief.

Mid-table would have sufficed this time around but in new manager Nick Ironton the Citizens have a born winner and he had eyes higher up than that.

WGC V Dunstable - Lee Close celebrates scoring his second for WGC with Eusebio Da Silva.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V Dunstable - Lee Close celebrates scoring his second for WGC with Eusebio Da Silva. Picture: Karyn Haddon

City were deserving to be in a play-off spot when the season was voided and despite a few wobbles just before the climax, you would have expected them to have remained there.

Ironton built a side with a strong defence that was difficult to break down and a creative and hard-working midfield.

Injuries and unavailability up front proved an Achilles heel but the star strikers were just on their way back, ready for the finale to the year.

WGC V Dunstable - Lee Close celebrates scoring his second for WGC with Eusebio Da Silva and Callum Stead.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V Dunstable - Lee Close celebrates scoring his second for WGC with Eusebio Da Silva and Callum Stead. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The boss was right too when he said nobody would have fancied playing City in the one-off shoot-outs. We’ll never know for sure but there could have been a fantastic finish to the campaign.

Game of the year: Berkhamsted (away) - January 1

WGC V Dunstable - Lee Close celebrates scoring his second for WGC.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V Dunstable - Lee Close celebrates scoring his second for WGC. Picture: Karyn Haddon

There were so many good games, not least the win at Halesowen in August and a 7-1 crushing of St Neots Town at home, but it was the manner of the win, the opponents and the timing that puts this one top of the list.

The turn of the year marks the start of the final run-in. Teams are all but settled and you know what to expect.

Except nobody did expect a 4-1 thrashing of the side who were at the time sitting second and certainly not on their own patch.

WGC V Dunstable - Dave Keenleyside in action for WGC.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V Dunstable - Dave Keenleyside in action for WGC. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Elliot Bailey, Callum Stead, Jordan Watson and Jack Vasey got the goals on the happiest of New Year’s Days.

Most pleasing player: Charlie Jones

Charlie Jones of Welwyn Garden City kicks clear in the match between Welwyn Garden City v Thame United. Picture: DANNY LOOCharlie Jones of Welwyn Garden City kicks clear in the match between Welwyn Garden City v Thame United. Picture: DANNY LOO

I’ve dabbled in coaching and my players of the year were always a little bit left-field. They weren’t necessarily the best seen over the course of that year, sometimes they weren’t even the star man.

For me attitude is everything and there is nothing better than seeing a player respond to a challenge and meet it head on with little or no complaints, while at the same time improving their performances and ability.

Charlie Jones was that player this year at Welwyn.

Charlie Jones of Welwyn Garden City claims a corner in the match between Welwyn Garden City v Thame United. Picture: DANNY LOOCharlie Jones of Welwyn Garden City claims a corner in the match between Welwyn Garden City v Thame United. Picture: DANNY LOO

He found himself out of the side and seemingly destined for a long and frustrating season but once back between the posts for the above game at Berko, he grasped the opportunity with both gloves and never looked back.

His displays from there have been excellent and he is arguably City’s number one now.

WGC V North Leigh - Callum Stead in action for Welwyn.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V North Leigh - Callum Stead in action for Welwyn. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Moment of the season: Biggleswade away

Only game number two of this season but it was a display full of panache and adventurous attacking play built on Ironton’s trademark rock-solid defence.

It finished 3-1 and the only criticisms were the conceding of a late consolation and the fact they only managed to score three.

WGC V Dunstable - Callum Stead in action for WGC.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V Dunstable - Callum Stead in action for WGC. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Eusebio Da Silva got two but in truth could have had six but for a little bit more luck.

Jay Rolfe had started the party inside 10 minutes and the whole performance in the late evening sunshine gave everyone the first shreds of belief that the season could be a special one.

WGC V North Leigh - Manager of WGC Nick Ironton (seated right).


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V North Leigh - Manager of WGC Nick Ironton (seated right). Picture: Karyn Haddon

What’s next?

WGC have set their stall out now and will go into next year as one of the fancied teams. It will difficult to replicate but there is a talented squad at Herns Lane and with just the minimum amount of summer strengthening that is a scenario that isn’t too far into the realm of fantasy.

Better cup runs would be nice. The early exits in both FA Cup and FA Trophy were frustrating, not least when you saw divisional rivals Halesowen reach the semi-final of the latter.

WGC V Dunstable - Eusebio Da Silva in action for WGC.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V Dunstable - Eusebio Da Silva in action for WGC. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The prize money and the boost to attendances a good run in either competition provides wouldn’t have gone amiss either.

Crowds were disappointing mind you but that was not for the want of trying. A fabulous scheme at the end of the season where prices were reduced to just £5 never had the chance to bear fruit.

If the town’s own citizens can get behind these Citizens there is a huge success story just waiting to happen.

WGC V Dunstable - George Ironton in action for WGC.


Picture: Karyn HaddonWGC V Dunstable - George Ironton in action for WGC. Picture: Karyn Haddon


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