THIS game – Welwyn GC’s second in three days – was another very useful run-out against National League Barnet’s under 23 side.
Although the BP Mitchell Stadium attendance was just an eighth of Saturday’s bumper crowd for the Luton Town visit , the 100 or so spectators were treated to a real nip and tuck affair with the drawn result, just about the right one.
New WGC manager Nick Ironton stuck with a similar side that did battle with Luton’s first-teamers, although had three new trialists on his bench.
He also welcomed back last season regulars Jon Sexton and Jesse Walklin, who had missed the Luton visit.
WGC opened proceedings with two well struck long distance efforts from George Ironton and skipper Dave Keenleyside, one going just over and the other narrowly wide, in the opening 10 minutes.
Their defence with Lee Close playing alongside Dylan Ebengo in the centre, was stretched several times in the early exchanges, by a lively, young Barnet side, but held firm.
On 25 minutes, a short corner routine saw new WGC striker Ollie Carey narrowly over, with a clever clipped effort.
Young Barnet keeper Aymen Azaze was brought into action with a fine, full length save from a Keenleyside free-kick, after the Citizens’ skipper had been brought down himself 20 yards out.
The deadlock was broken three minutes from the break, the Barnet side breaking out down the right and a low cross was swept past Charlie Jones in the home goal, by Mo Bettamer, from close in for 1-0.
On the stroke of the interval, visiting keeper Azaze made an even more spectacular stop than his first 10 minutes earlier, somehow keeping out a close-in effort from Close, after Carey had flicked on another Keenleyside free-kick.
Five minutes after the restart, manager Ironton replaced Close, Ebengo, Sexton and Conor Clarke with Carl Mensah, trialist Gerardo Smaldone, Romelle Alomenu and Will McClelland - the latter two going on to give noticeable performances in the closing 40 minutes.
Connor Sansom had already taken the keeper’s gloves from Jones for the second-half.
Jesse Walklin put in a high ball that fellow midfielder Jay Rolfe pulled down well, but drove his shot across the face of goal.
But it was a prelude to a WGC equaliser just on the hour, substitute Smaldone getting over a good cross from the right and Carey striking a fine volley past Azaze, to bring the sides level.
Boss Ironton continued to ring the changes, giving runs-out to George Naismith and Rory Hull and trialists Lewis Croucher, Jake Anthony and Stephen Wade in the closing stages, replacing Keenleyside, Walklin, George Ironton and Brodie Carrington.
Forward Anthony saw a deflected shot bring a sharp save out of Azaze as the deadlock continued.
Two minutes from time, Barnet came within an ace of winning it, as a left-wing cross took out keeper Sansom and the entire WGC defence, but Bettamer put the chance of a second and winning goal, wide on the back post.
WGC: Jones (Sansom 45), Clarke (Smaldone 50), Close (McClelland 50), Ebengo (Mensah 50), Sexton (Alomenu 50), Rolfe, Walklin (Hull 65), Keenleyside (Naismith 60), Ironton (Croucher 65), Carey (Anthony 75), Carrington (Wade 75).