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Welwyn Garden City FC

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

The BP Mitchell Stadium, Herns Lane, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL7 1TA

ANYONE thinking this was a dress rehearsal for the League Trophy final six nights later, would have picked up few clues as to what will happen at Harefield next Wednesday.


Both clubs fielded understrength sides, the Citizens selecting three members of their successful youth (under 18s) side and a reserve team central defender, while probably only around four of this starting line-up would expect to start the Trophy final.


Berkhamsted also rested a number of their regulars as both clubs kept their final cards 'close to their chests'


But despite the weakened line-ups, both teams produced a decent game, with John McGrandles' hooked-in equaliser giving WGC a deserved draw, as they finished the match very strongly, in their best period of the game.


Youth-teamers Luke Foster and Seb Melandez, both making their first-team debuts and Phil Ball, playing his second senior game, all acquitted themselves well, while reserve defender Jake Hoy was one of WGC's best performers on the night.


Berko dominated the first 45 minutes, after Craig Arnott had slipped a defender and put a fifth minute effort past a post for WGC, with a Tom Carter header and a Josh Chamberlain volley both clearing the bar, as the West Herts visitors responded.


Joe Croft, back between the WGC posts, had to pull off an outstanding fingertip save to foil another Chamberlain effort as the Berkhamsted man broke clean through in the 27th minute, home skipper Daryl Smith clearing to safety.


But it was little surprise when Berko took the lead four minutes later, when a through ball found Carter in the area and he rifled an immediate volley past Croft for 1-0.


WGC responded and had their closest call of the half at the other end, Melandez stabbing a Yasir Rashid through ball past keeper Tasker, but the effort didn't carry enough strength and full-back Edwards got it off the line.


Melandez also had another opportunity early in the second-half, again set up by Rashid, but again the finish lacked power,


Rashid, another of WGC's best performers on the night, tried to repeat his spectacular winner at Hoddesdon two nights earlier, with a beautifully chipped shot from 20 yards that Tasker was forced to tip over, as the home side began to step up the search for an equaliser.


Dave Parkinson and Danny Payne were introduced from the bench as WGC began to dominate the closing stages.


Berko defender Canham almost sliced a Jason Caswell cross-shot into his own net and keeper Tasker foiled another late Caswell effort before WGC's late pressure finally told.


From a right-wing corner, youngster Ball got in a downward header in the crowded area and central defender McGrandles showed great composure, hooking the effort up and wide of Tasker's dive, into the far corner.


There was still time for desperate Berko defence to foil Rashid scrambling home another winner in stoppage time, after skipper Smith had forged the opening.


WGC: Croft, Welsh, Hoy, McGrandles, Foster, Ball, Smith, Arnott (Payne 75), Rashid, Caswell, Melandez (Parkinson 59).

Welwyn Garden City FC 1 - 1 Berkhamsted