Poor display adds to a disappointing evening for Welwyn Garden City at AFC Dunstable
PUBLISHED: 21:53 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 21:53 21 January 2020
Welwyn Garden City slipped to a disappointing 2-0 loss away to AFC Dunstable on a night that won't be remembered with much fondness by the few that turned out to see it.
It was a game that always looked like being decided by one goal and the prolific BJ Christie's 56th-minute strike was looking like it would be it until a late stunning effort from Nathan Frater added the gloss for the home side.
But it was also a game that didn't show Welwyn at their best.
They lacked the usual composure on and off the ball, but it was while in possession where the most glaring examples of that occurred.
There was none of the slick passing and quick attacking that has seen them become genuine Southern League Division One Central play-off contenders.
And there will be plenty to discuss in the changing room and on the training field.
The match itself was strangely entertaining without ever being a classic.
The first half started slowly but soon turned into a homage to Spinal Tap - with the tempo turned up to 11.
If modern films are your genre then it was fast and furious but for all the endeavour on show there was little in the way of clear-cut chances.
Welwyn keeper Charlie Jones made one good save to palm a wicked Nathan Frater cross from the right up and on to the crossbar while he needed a strong pair of hands to push a thumping drive from Kyle Ajayi over the top.
At the other end Dan Green, one of two former Welwyn players in the AFC line-up, had to get low to stop a Callum Stead shot on the turn as the half came to a close.
The one real opportunity fell to Jordan Watson who picked up the ball at the back post after Dave Keenleyside had punted a ball across the box.
The winger took a touch and Green was able to smother the shot, grabbing the rebound as Watson tried to push it back into the middle.
The former Ware man was showing plenty of trickery down the left while Stead on the other wing was opting for speed.
Lee Close was marshalling his troops well at the back and winning most headers but the game was crying out for someone to take it by the scruff of the neck and start to dictate the play.
That didn't happen and it was still a case of players running round like headless chickens but the hosts had threatened to score in the same way they eventually did.
One cross-field ball from right to left fell to Christie but Jay Rolfe managed to get in and crowd the striker out.
There was no such problem though for the marksman minutes later when this time he got the ball in plenty of space before rifling it inside the near post with Jones left stranded.
Jones made amends later though with a stunning reflex save, flinging himself full-length to beat out another Christie effort.
Welwyn's biggest problem though was they were playing to Dunstable's strengths.
The hosts are a big physical side who will not be beaten too often when the ball is played in the air.
It was therefore no surprise that when the Citizens got the ball down and passed it, they created a chance.
George Ironton and Keenleyside were involved with a final flick from Watson giving Jack Vasey sight of goal.
He had to rush his shot though and Green was able to grab it at the second attempt.
Frustration began to get raise its head among those in claret shirts after that as Dunstable sensed an important win.
The visitors were struggling to hold onto the ball, one instance seeing Watson lose possession in a promising position on the left of the Dunstable box.
Manager Nick Ironton made all three substitutions in an attempt to change their fortunes but it never worked and salt was rubbed in the wounds when Frater thumped in a free-kick from 25 yards straight into the top corner.
Welwyn's evening ended when Stead getting a sight of goal but shooting wide.
It kind of summed things up.
Welwyn Garden City: Jones, Bradshaw (Smaldone 66), Taylor (Sexton 72), Walklin (Alomenu 81), Close, Rolfe, Stead, Ironton, Vasey, Keenleyside, Watson..
Subs (not used): Bailey, Opoku.
Booked: Keenleyside 88
AFC Dunstable: Green, Tavernier, Dilford, R.Frater, Carney, Ajayi, Powell (Fry 90+3), Elliot, Christie, Burnett (Rhinney 90), N.Frater.
Subs (not used): Abraham, Crawley, Langston.
Goals: Christie 56, N.Frater 89
HT: AFC Dunstable 0 Welwyn Garden City 0