Welwyn Garden City took a Southern League Premier scalp for the second successive season in the first round of the League Challenge Cup.
But whereas last season, the Citizens edged into the second round by a solitary goal win at Kings Langley, this time they outgunned and outclassed Premier neighbours Hitchin, hitting the Canaries for five on their first visit to Herns Lane in many years.
Nick Ironton’s in-form side, with three wins and a draw from their four opening league games, were just too much for a Hitchin side at the other end of the confidence table, with just one point from their first four.
From the early moments the Clarets swarmed all over their opponents, taking a seventh minute from a picture goal, WGC new boy Callum Stead cleverly tricking his full-back before putting over an excellent cross that Toby Cleaver glanced past Hitchin keeper Charlie Horlock for 1-0.
The Canaries tried an immediate response with their new signing Layne Eadie being played in, but WGC’s Jack Bradshaw got across to deflect the goalbound effort for a corner.
The Citizens’ keeper Ryan Schmid had to kick away a Lewis Barker effort on the far post after WGC’s defence had been outpaced down the left and Jesse Walklin got across to make a timely clearance from an Leon Okuboyjo effort moments later.
But WGC soon squashed any mini Hitchin revival with a second on 25 minutes. Again Stead did well down the right, pulling it back for Bradshaw to put over another dangerous cross. Hitchin cleared but only to WGC skipper Dave Keenleyside, who fired his low effort through a crowded area into the bottom corner.
Walklin then turned attacker, breaking from defence, to hit a fierce 30 yarder just over keeper Horlock’s bar.
Two minutes from the break it was 3-0 and again a tantilising cross from the right did the damage, Bradshaw’s ball in, being headed into his own goal by Hitchin captain Josh Bickerstaff getting in front of WGC’s eager forwards.
Schmid began the second half making another good save with his legs to foil the marauding Eadies before WGC made it four 10 minutes after the restart, new boy Callum Stead, capping a fine display with a flying header after Keenleyside had provided the cross.
Horlick then made a fine diving save to prevent Cleaver bagging his second of the night from a sharp, low effort before WGC completed a nap hand 20 minutes from time.
Will McClelland, another of WGC’s stars on the night, lofted in a long free-kick, the Hitchin defence allowed it to bounce and home substitute Eusebio Da Silva latched onto it, to take it around the keeper and roll in.
Hitchin had arguably their best spell of the game in the closing stages and WGC keeper Schmid had to make two good late saves to deny the Premier side even the scantest consolation.
WGC: Schmid, Bradshaw, Sexton, Walklin, McClelland, Close, Stead, Ironton (Da Silva 56), Cleaver, Keenleyside (Ebengo 68), Alomenu (Carrington 58).