There were a lot of positives to take from the defeat. The first half performance was great with some intricate football being played and lots of chances created.
Joint Manager Wantage Town
Wantage marked their return to the Southern League after a two season absence with a trip to Welwyn Garden City FC, and nearly took the lead inside the first minute as Jack Dunmall saw his effort tipped round for a corner.
The visitors continued to press in the opening period and a fourth minute Ryan Markham corner was headed behind by a Welwyn defender under pressure from Brad Cox. Three minutes later Jack Buchanan set up Tom Stanley but the latter’s shot curled just past the far post.
The home side broke a couple of times, but Charlie McReady was unduly troubled by shots from Jay Rolfe and David Keenleyside. But they had a golden opportunity on 15 minutes as George Ironton’s free-kick found Eusebio Da Silva in behind a flat-footed Wantage defence, but his first time effort drifted wide.
Wantage were playing the better football, and a great passing combination led to them taking the lead on 29 minutes. Shemar Pettet broke down the left wing before finding Jack Dunmall on the edge of the area. Spotting the run of Buchanan Dunmall slid the ball into his path and the young number 10 found the gap between the keeper’s legs to give Wantage a deserved lead.
Six minutes later another flowing move found Buchanan again, but this time keeper Connor Sansom thwarted him at the expense of another Wantage corner which came to nothing. Stanley was also a whisker away with another chance but it was just a one goal lead that Wantage took into the half time interval.
Welwyn came out for the second half a different side and stopped Wantage playing. With a couple of six-footers already on the field, and another couple coming off the bench they started to dominate and use their aerial advantage with Chris Jackson and Brad Cox constantly defending.
Their first chance of note in the second period came on 56 minutes, Da Silva heading wide from a free-kick. This signalled the start of a prolonged spell of Welwyn pressure, and how Da Silva didn’t get a hat-full is a question only he can answer.
After again putting wide on the hour he was guilty two minutes later of what must be the miss of the season after Romelle Alomenu’s cross found him unmarked and just a yard out, but somehow he lifter his shot over the bar.
A huge let-off for Wantage, who again appeared to have lady luck on their side as Pettet was on hand to hook the ball off the line on 68 minutes. Could they hold on? Alas no, Welwyn pulled level on 74 minutes as Ironton headed home at the far post.
Wantage rarely troubled Sansom in the second half, although still trying to play their way up the pitch, and looked like they were going to come away with a point as the clock ticked over into the 90th minute.
Unfortunately that was the time Da Silva chose to redeem himself for the earlier misses as he rose to head home the winner from a corner, giving Wantage not time to get themselves level.
A great first half from Wantage, but the home side showed the quality needed to be at this level and you couldn’t argue with chances created second half they didn’t deserve the win. Wantage now move on to Aylesbury on Tuesday night looking to put things right.
Joint Manager Tom Austin said after the game “There were a lot of positives to take from the defeat. The first half performance was great with some intricate football being played and lots of chances created. We also looked solid defensively and didn’t allow Welwyn to utilise their long ball approach. Second half fitness showed and some areas we looked vulnerable however all in all a disappointing way to lose in the last few minutes but we have shown we can compete at this level."