Welwyn's play-off hopes strengthen after seven-goal thriller at Aylesbury

Jon Clements took his tally to four since returning to Welwyn Garden City from Colney Heath.

Jon Clements took his tally to four since returning to Welwyn Garden City from Colney Heath. - Credit: KARYN HADDON

A blistering match on a freezing night at Aylesbury United brought seven goals and threw Welwyn Garden City to within one win of the Southern League Division One Central play-off places.

As he was in the win at Barton Rovers on New Year's Day, Matty Campbell-Mhlope was the match winner at The Meadow, pouncing four minutes into stoppage time to claim a breathless 4-3 win.

It was their fifth win in six unbeaten games with Campbell-Mhlope getting on to a clearance from keeper Charlie Crowley that was flicked on for him, taking his time to place the ball wide of home keeper Archie Davis.

An own-goal and a Jon Clements double had tipped the balance away from Aylesbury and towards Welwyn during a frantic second-half and leaves the Citizens two points behind fifth-placed Ware and with games in hand on all bar one of their rivals.

Their first game of 2022 had seen them score on 49 seconds and them were the thickness of a coat of paint away from beating that, Campbell-Mhlope's shot bouncing down off the crossbar and out.

It proved something of a false dawn though as Aylesbury enjoyed a good opening and after going close through an effort across the face of goal from Gavin James and a David Ozobia shot that was pushed away by Crowley, the hosts took the lead.

Winger Jaedon Phillips got away from Callum Taylor and after a solo run, he thumped a shot from 25 yards into the top corner.

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WGC did come into the game more as the half ended, Jon Clements and Dave Keenleyside both putting shots wide, but James was also inches away from connecting with a deflected Phillips’ cross.

The second period saw a completely different City though and a completely different game.

The visitors were level within two minutes of the restart, Clements cross from the right bouncing over Davis and bouncing in off Aylesbury full-back Harry Jones.

Keeper Crowley kept the Citizens on terms with a well-timed snatch off the dangerous Phillips’ toes, as the winger threatened to break through again but the game then exploded into life with four goals in six crazy minutes around the hour mark.

Aylesbury substitute Anthony Ball put them back in front with his first touch, but the lead lasted just two minutes, Clements picking his spot for 2-2.

The striker then gave Welwyn the lead for the first time as he got one the end of a Jordan Watson ball across goal with a smart finish.

But another cracking strike from 25 yards brought Aylesbury level, Mark Riddick  getting it to make it 3-3 and still more than 25 minutes to go.

Both sides continued to have chances even if the goals temporarily dried up, Watson having the best of them for City with a header just past the post.

It looked like a share of the spoils after a real thriller, until Campbell-Mhlope’s decisive stoppage time strike pushed WGC ever closer towards the top of the table.

The only downside to the game was an ankle injury to Callum Taylor which forced him out of the game, replaced by Jon Sexton, and could see him miss more games through the month.

WGC: Crowley, Doherty, Close, Rolfe, Taylor (Sexton 64), Spaul (Walklin 62), Keenleyside, Ironton, Clements (Adelani 80), Watson, Campbell-Mhlope.


Top 6

P

W

D

L

F

A

Pts

Bedford Town

22

16

3

3

56

19

51

Berkhamsted

20

15

3

2

36

10

48

AFC Dunstable

21

13

3

5

39

19

42

North Leigh

23

12

5

6

47

27

41

Ware

22

12

4

6

56

29

40

WELWYN GARDEN CITY

20

12

2

6

40

29

38


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