Late winner for Welwyn Garden City youngsters as Hatfield Town pay the penalty in derby
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
Football returned with an eagerly-awaited derby - one which brought a late winner for Welwyn Garden City's U23 side against Hatfield Town.
The game look destined for a draw after a goal from Charlie Jones for Welwyn was instantly cancelled out by a penalty from Tommy Howard.
But a foul on Greg Adinna on 90 minutes handed Harrison Cage the chance from 12 yards and he made no mistake to make the final score 2-1 in Welwyn's favour.
The match was part of the Herts Senior County League's late-season cup, designed to give competitive fixtures in each division in lieu of the curtailed league fixtures.
Each cup was split into four groups of four and it placed the two rivals together with the game at the Citizen's Herns Lane ground.
WGC manager Richard James had a couple of players with first-team experience available, Joe Bennett the skipper, while Hatfield included a couple who were with the Herns Lane club at one point including their captain, Nathan Studholme.
And from the off it was clear that both teams were delighted to be back playing.
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The pace was ridiculously fast and although it naturally slowed, the frantic nature meant neither side were able to claim control.
The visitors probably had the best of the territory but it was Welwyn who enjoyed the better chances.
Kieron Extence made a superb save from the best of them, a header from Charlie Jones back across goal superbly turned round the post by the Hatfield keeper.
It was one of the few chances on target though. Harrison Cage blazed over and Ogunkunle Bandele sliced another wide.
Hatfield did get the ball in the net, a well-controlled side-foot volley from Dean Sadler beating Bull but the linesman's flag was already on its way up as he hit it.
New signing from Colney Heath Afsar Choudhury clipped another through the legs of the defender and wide.
But while the first half was notable for a lack of movement in the shots on goal column, the second half not only two inside the opening three minutes of the second half, they both brought goals.
Jones got the first for Welwyn with a wonderfully simple yet excellently converted effort.
It was from a free-kick deep on the Welwyn right. Harrison Cage's delivery was inch perfect, finding Jones five yards out and his header was powered over Extence.
But within 60 seconds Hatfield had a penalty, Ashley Rex committing the foul, and Tommy Howard, a half-time substitute, sent Bull the wrong way for an instant equaliser.
Jones forced Extence into another good save, flying to his left to tip a shot destined for the top corner over the top but Hatfield started to carve out a few more chances for themselves.
James Harding looped one over the top from the edge of the area after a decent move while Akram Choudhury hit the side netting as he cut in from the left.
Both teams rung the changes in the second half but the last few chances were mostly Welwyn's.
A mazy run from Bennett was halted while Cage hit a late shot straight at Extence.
It seemed as if that was that until the late winner.
Welwyn will play away at Cockfosters Res while Hatfield Town are back at Birchwood where Ware Sports are the visitors.
Both matches are next Saturday.
WGC U23: Bull, Kidd, Hussein, Bennett, Rex, Doherty, Reid (Slark 49), B.James (Adinna 57), Bandele, Cage, Jones.
Subs: Tyler, Matthews, J.James
Goals: Jones 47, Cage 90+1
Hatfield Town: Extence, Newman, Argent (Howard 46), Sadler, Christie (Thompson 66), Harding, Studholme (Otto 79), Caijjar, Akram Choudhury, Rees, Afsar Choudhury.
Subs: Tuttie, Davis.
Goal: Howard (pen) 49
HT: Welwyn Garden City U23 0 Hatfield Town 0