Hat-trick for Dave Keenleyside helps Welwyn Garden City forget striker woes
- Credit: Danny Loo/TGS Photo
An injury crisis among the Welwyn Garden City strikers was soon forgotten as skipper Dave Keenleyside hit a hat-trick to sink play-off rivals Bedford Town in a 4-2 win.
The Citizens went into the contest minus the suspended Eusebio Da Silva, the injured duo of Elliot Bailey and Brodie Carrington and the unavailable Stuart Zanone, back for a second spell at Herns Lane.
But Keenleyside, himself only just returned from a bout of illness, converted two penalties before completing his treble with a piece of individuality in stoppage time.
The home fans even had Dylan Ebengo's first goal in City colours to celebrate on a good day at the Isabel Hospice Stadium.
Ollie Carey was required to lead the line, playing his first game since the first weeks of the season, and still carrying a troublesome back injury.
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But he did his job with aplomb as the Citizens moved up to fifth in the table.
Lee Close and Romelle alomenu both brought Bedford keeper Dan Benney into early action with efforts although Close was also required to clear one visiting shot off the line on 21 minutes.
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A foul on Callum Stead brought the first penalty of the afternoon, Keenleyside making no mistake, but the lead lasted just four minutes, Close this time unable to prevent a goal as his deflected header skewed beyond Marco Tavares.
WGC began the second-half in lively fashion, Keenleyside blazing over the bar and Stead having a goalbound effort deflected away, before the Citizens restored their lead, again from the penalty spot.
Willing runner Carey chased a through ball but was floored by Benney and Keenleyside once again made no mistake.
Carey had to be helped from the field after lengthy treatment to be replaced by Ebengo but he had only been on the pitch for three minutes when he crashed a corner home at the back post.
Tom Hitchcock made it a nervy final 20 minutes as he pulled Bedford back to within one but with Close and Jay Rolfe outstanding at the back and WGC still happy to attack, it was the hosts who finished things off.
The Bedford defence got into a tangle over a high ball, allowing Keenleyside to dart between them and after racing clear and going round the keeper, he rolled the ball into the empty net to clinch all three points.