Third successive defeat by a single goal leaves Welwyn frustrated going into break
PUBLISHED: 11:29 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:29 09 December 2019
Despite taking the lead on three different occasions Welwyn Garden City ended the first block of fixtures with a frustrating 4-3 loss away to Stevenage.
The Hertfordshire Sports Village-based hockey club had travelled north with a depleted side looking to overturn a run of two successive defeats, each by a single goal.
And for long periods it looked as if they would do just that, with a determined defensive effort that gave goalkeeper Dan Klinger the man of the match award, although that was one of many fine individual performances.
The home side attacked from the off on a sandy surface at the Nobel School but it was Welwyn who engineered the opening goal on a counter-attack.
Crayton Napoleon was in control of the midfield and it was a lovely team move that got the deserved finish from Rob Sansom.
But Stevenage proved resilient and with quick attacks down both flanks, their pressure finally earned a penalty corner and the first of their equaliser.
There would be two more goals by half-time. Welwyn retook the lead with Will Reilly, who had an excellent game on the right, linking up with James Lutrario before Alan Clarke showed the form which has taken the second team top of their league.
Stevenage again levelled though and with Napoleon leaving the game at the interval, Welwyn's remaining players faced a barrage of red attacks from the free-scoring hosts.
Welwyn though still carried a threat going forward with probing aerials put up by Jens Van Helden and Neil Kirby for the Welwyn forwards to run onto.
And it was they who grabbed the fifth goal of the afternoon. Dave Almand-Smith set off on another marauding run before being fouled in the circle. No matter though as he converted the penalty stroke for a 3-2 lead.
The striker though went from hero to villain as first a green card and then a yellow meant he spent seven-minutes on the side line.
And it was while they were down to 10 men that the tiring Welwyn defence, ably marshalled as usual by Ben O'Boyle, were breached for a third time before Stevenage added a fourth.
WGC finished on the front foot but to no avail meaning they go into the Christmas break in the middles of East League Division Three South West.
But with youngsters Will and George Reilly showing great potential and several experienced players to return, Welwyn are well set for a strong second half of the season, starting on January 11 at home to Harpenden.