Welwyn Garden City leave it late to grab win against Yaxley
PUBLISHED: 17:05 23 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:05 23 November 2019
A goal six minutes from time settled a five-goal battle in the rain and kept Welwyn Garden City in the hunt for a Southern League Division One Central play-off place.
It hadn't been the best of games but the 3-2 win could yet prove vital in their pursuit of that goal.
Mind you it had looked as if a draw was going to be the best they could hope for as the match reached its conclusion.
A break in play due to an injury to a Joel Earps on 65 minutes had looked to be the turning point as the Cambridgeshire visitors scored twice in the next four minutes.
That wiped out Welwyn's two goal-lead, courtesy of goals from Eusebio Da Silva and Elliot Bailey, scored in a similar four-minute spell during the first half, but Callum Stead rescued the three points with his late winner.
The two-week enforced lay-off hadn't helped the Citizens in a scrappy affair.
Neither too did the pitch, already sodden from the amount of rain in the last few weeks, and not aided by the heavens opening 18 minutes into the first-half.
It naturally had an affect on the game with the ball not travelling brilliantly across the turf and players also finding their footing less than sure.
Long ball was therefore the order of the day and it was the hosts who enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes and deserved their lead.
Jack Bradshaw had hit a speculative free-kick from 35 yards over the top well good battling by the ever-industrious Jesse Walklin, skippering the side in the absence of Dave Keeleyside, and Callum Stead led to the latter cutting across the edge of the area and testing Aaron butcher in the Yaxley goal.
And while the direct tactic may not be everybody's cup of tea, the opening goal was a case of the long ball working perfectly.
It was helped massively by a wonderful touch from Bailey to help it round the corner. That sent Da Silva away, beating the offside trap, and he after he had gone round Butcher and avoided the sliding tackle of Dalton Bettles, he rolled the ball into the empty net.
It was his fifth league goal of the campaign and his seventh in all competitions and top him to the head of the clubs scoring charts.
Three minutes later he was joined on those figures by Bailey who thundered home a penalty straight down the middle after Stead had been stopped by a tug on his arm.
The quick-fire double gave the hosts valuable breathing space as the game returned to its pattern of long balls forward.
They nearly made it three with the final touch of the half, Bailey connecting with a corner but finding the top of the crossbar.
Ryan Schmid had been a virtual spectator for the majority of the game up until that point but was required to be on his toes as Yaxley started much better.
Bailey had the first attempt of the half though, a dipping effort from range that may not have been as far away as Butcher first thought.
Stead had the second one too, cutting one way then the other before firing at Butcher, who had to kick it behind.
But as with the first half the game swung in just a handful of minutes.
Whether the stoppage affected the home side is debateable. What was true was Yaxley suddenly moved the speed of their game from crawl to full-tilt.
Butterworth dragged them back into it, reacting first after a long shot bounced in front of Schmid and was spilled.
Cotton then completed the comeback, sending his penalty to the keeper's left corner while he went to the right.
It appeared from there as if there would be only one winner. Desperate defending kept one scramble from entering the home net but Welwyn did give some indication that they were still in the game when Da Silva stabbed wide on the stretch after a similar scramble.
But then came Stead's moment, racing clear and going round the keeper before rolling the ball into the net.
Welwyn Garden City: Schmid, Smaldone. Alomenu (Carey 70), Walklin, Ebengo, Rolfe, Stead, Bradshaw, Da Silva, Payne, Bailey.
Subs (not used): Harris, Cathline, Adinna, Tavares
Goals: Da Silva 23, Bailey (pen) 27, Stead 84
Yaxley: Butcher, Duncliffe, Garner, Butterworth, Salmon, Bettles, Bennett (Nkala 83), Earps (Hook 65), T.Waumsley, Cotton, Nolan (S.Waumsley 85).
Subs (not used): Blake, Gothard.
Goals: Butterworth 66, Cotton (pen) 69
Booked: Garner 90+5
HT: Welwyn Garden City 2 Yaxley 0
Referee: Joe Wrigley (Halstead)