Second consecutive league loss for Welwyn Garden City
Welwyn Garden City hockey men went up the M1 looking to get back to winning ways against a strong unbeaten Luton Town side, but were undone by a lack of luck in front of goal, and some poor discipline.
A 3-1 defeat following last weekend’s derby defeat to Potters Bar, was not what they were after.
Missing the driving force of Rob Sansom and solid defensive work of James Lutrario, Welwyn welcomed back Mark Bee from injury.
A brisk start by the home side saw them control the early exchanges without causing any real damage to the Welwyn back line.
Pete Mullens and Mark Skilbeck were taking care of the Luton wide men well, with Bee and Ben O’Boyle solid in the centre.
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Gradually Welwyn found their passing game, and forwards Ed Will and Charles Southey were making their presence felt, but could not get any significant penetration into the home D.
The home side finally took the lead midway through the first half. O’Boyle was caught in possession just inside the Welwyn half by one of the rapid Luton forwards.
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It was a foot race that was won by the home player who raced to the Welwyn D where he was brought down by Welwyn’s skipper and keeper James Florence.
The umpire had no choice but to award a penalty stroke which was converted.
Undeterred by this setback Welwyn continued to play positively with several driving runs from Chris Hutchinson, and neat work between Trevor Mellor and Matt O’Connell finding their way deep into Luton territory.
The best chance in the first half fell to Will from a well worked short corner which was saved.
Another promising break by Ollie Reynolds behind the home defence was thwarted by a good last ditch tackle.
It was an even start to the second half as both sides looked to find their first half form again.
Florence made a blinding save from a fiercely struck Luton shot from the top of the D.
Luton were finding their feet and pushing Welwyn back more and more.
Another Luton attack saw the ball fall to a Luton forward in the Welwyn D.
O’Boyle’s lunging tackle from behind was mistimed, and not only did the umpire award another penalty stroke, but felt the tackle warranted a yellow card sending the Welwyn defender to the sideline for five minutes.
This time Florence outdid the Luton penalty taker and coolly kept the stroke out of the goal.
To add to their woes Welwyn were down to nine players when Reynolds was shown a yellow card for getting into a tussle with a Luton defender having just failed to round the keeper with a one on one opportunity.
The Welwyn nine defended stoutly and kept out the waves of Luton pressure until their bad boys returned to the field.
However, the full compliment could not prevent Luton going 2-0 up.
A Luton shot was going wide of the goal, but Bryn Evans pushed the ball back across goal and inadvertently found a forward unmarked who was able to gleefully nudge the ball over the line.
It was 3-0 when Luton converted another penalty stroke, this one coming after the ball hit David Searle on the Welwyn goal line with Florence already out of the play.
To their credit Welwyn continued to push forward. Will saw a number of shots narrowly going wide, or fractionally high.
Southey also tested the home keeper and it was the young Welwyn forward who grabbed Welwyn’s consolation goal with a reverse flick into the roof of the goal.
As the game drew to a close, Bee limped off with a reoccurrence of his injury and must be a doubt for next week.
Back at home on Saturday against Berkhamsted (with a 1pm start), Welwyn will hope that they can get into the scoring groove again.