Welwyn Garden City suffer yet another blow in their play-off chase with Daventry loss
PUBLISHED: 21:53 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 00:08 11 March 2020
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Welwyn Garden City’s Southern League Division One Central play-off hopes took another hit as they fell to a 4-2 defeat at home to Daventry Town.
Dylan Ebengo had put them in front six minutes before half-time but two Luke Emery goals in the opening 15 minutes of the second half turned that around.
Jordan Watson equalised on 74 minutes but the sending off of Charlie Payne and then a Ross Harris effort gave the points to the visitors before Aaron King settled it.
This wasn't a good performance and then never really looked like playing the brand of passing football that has become a trademark.
They are still in the play-off places but the momentum is all with the chasing pack and there was plenty of concern at the final whistle.
Manager Nick Ironton was furious with his side's performance last time out against North Leigh on Saturday and showed his displeasure by making four changes to the starting line-up.
Out went George Ironton completely while Dave Keenleyside, Matty Campbell-Mhlope and Hani Berchiche were relegated to the bench.
In their place came Jon Sexton, Ebengo, Jordan Watson and Elliot Bailey.
That effort on Saturday was still being grumbled about in the clubhouse prior to the game so there would have been a lot of pleasure at a bright start that saw Jack Vasey hit a shot straight at James Martin in the Daventry goal.
But soon the pattern of the game settled into what would continue for the remainder of the first half, a drawn-out, knock down scrap.
The visitors were noticeably bigger than their Welwyn counterparts and in the King brothers, Simon and Aaron, they had two players who were at their happiest when the going got rough.
For a while WGC seemed put off by it but they slowly got to grips with the physical battle.
Chances were limited though. Aaron King had Town's best effort when he wasn't picked up well enough on a surge into the box.
He probably should have done better than a shot that whistled inches over the bar too as he had a good sight of Charlie Jones's goal.
For Welwyn a wonderful run by Jordan Watson promised plenty before fizzling out and Callum Stead toiled tirelessly but without much reward.
However, they would get their noses in front from a set-piece.
It was delivered from the left towards the back post where Ebengo was lurking.
His first effort from 10 yards or so was blocked but the ball ran back to him and he made no mistake the second time around, thumping his shot off the defender on the line.
There was still plenty of scope for improvement though, even if the pitch was proving soft under foot and causing some players to slip and slide.
That message clearly failed to sink in though and within three minutes Daventry were level.
Like Welwyn's goal it came from a left-wing corner but this time the home side could have cleared it. They didn't and when Jarvis Wilson drilled it back across the six-yard box, Emery swept it home.
Ironton decided a change was needed and made a double substitution with Keenleyside and Campbell-Mhlope thrown on.
And it started to have an effect but unfortunately by the time it did, Daventry were in front.
It was another set-piece, executed with simple precision. Aaron King clipped it into the box where Emery was on the move and his glancing header was too high and wide of Jones.
Campbell-Mhlope sliced a shot wide from the right-hand side of the box and Charlie Payne did the same from a central position as Welwyn finally stirred as an attacking force.
It was still scrappy mind you and the Citizens were guilty of giving away too many fouls and free-kicks.
But it was a free-kick of their own which brought the equaliser.
It was in prime Keenleyside territory, just outside the box and slightly to the left, and he did indeed clip it over the wall.
But it was the deflection off Watson that beat Martin and regardless of who claimed it, the goal was a valuable path back into the game.
But all of a sudden Welwyn has thrown it all away.
First Charlie Payne, already booked for a foul, failed to retreat at a free-kick and when the ball was fired at him from point-blank range the referee pull out a second yellow followed by the red.
Two minutes later the visitors were back in front and it was another awful goal to concede from a Welwyn point of view.
It came bobbling across the box from the left but it was allowed to travel all the way to the back post. Harris was waiting and although he didn't connect properly, it was enough to divert it into the net.
Six added minutes gave City hope they could salvage something but they couldn't craft a single chance and Aaron King rubbed salt in the wound with a brekaway goal.
There will be lots of soul searching needed to stop this mini slump from turning into a rot.
WGC: Jones, Bradshaw, Sexton, Ebengo (Keenleyside 55), Nije, Rolfe, Stead (Campbell-Mhlope 55), Bailey, Vasey (Berchiche 73), Payne, Watson.
Subs (not used): Opoku, A.Harris.
Goals: Ebengo 39, Watson 76
Booked: Vasey 44, Payne 70, 80
Sent-off: Payne 80
Daventry Town: Martin, Childs, Print, R.Harris, Wilson, O'Connor, Fitzgerald (O.Emery 90+3), King, L.Emery (Price 89), King, Gyasi.
Subs (not used): Finlay.
Goals: L.Emery 48, 60, R.Harris 82, A.King 90+7
Booked: O'Connor 29
HT: Welwyn Garden City 1 Daventry Town 0
Referee: Daniel Todd (Newport Pagnell)
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