WELWYN GC’s fine start to life in the Southern League has faded.
After settling early into their new standard after promotion, with four wins from their opening five league games, Adam Fisher’s side suffered their third successive league defeat with this loss and in all three losses, have failed to find a goal.
And that lies at the heart of the Herns Lane side’s problems. Defensively they are secure, there is no lack of invention in midfield, but upfront they are constantly found lacking.
In almost a carbon-copy defeat to that of the previous Saturday, when Cambridge City came to the BP Mitchell Stadium and plundered three points without really doing much to earn the victory, county rivals Berkhamsted gave a repeat performance in front of a crowd of 135.
In desperation, in the latter stages of the game, with the Clarets trailing to a 64th minute Matt Bateman goal, manager Fisher went for all-out attack, finishing with four out and out forwards in his line-up.
But a lack of finish and a very solid goalkeeping display from Berko keeper James Weatherill, ensured WGC were again left frustrated.
Last season’s SSML prolific scorer Jon Clements is finding life tough at the new level and is without a goal, except for a single strike in a Herts Charity Shield win over Leverstock Green, while all his possible partners are equally goal shy.
The one boost for boss Fisher from this game came with the introduction - for the last 15 minutes - of big target man Ashley Kersey for his first taste of competitive football this season.
Kersey has been out with a troublesome ankle injury since early pre-season and though clearly not match fit, his return will be a big boost for Fisher and WGC supporters.
WGC were without central defender Dave Corran, beginning a three match suspension for the incident at the end of last week’s defeat against Cambridge City, so the very versatile Jay Rolfe dropped back into the back line alongside Jay Lovell. Lee Close still anchored midfield.
Berko skipper and full-back Dan Murphy was lucky to escape with just a ticking-off from referee Stuart Smith for a very heavy challenge on recalled Tony Williams in the opening five minutes.
Lovell did well well to get in the way of a Bateman piledriver in 17 minutes before winger Will Summerfield broke through to bring a safe catch from WGC keeper Dan Green, as the visitors looked the livelier side in the opening exchanges.
Ben Spaul broke through and saw his goalbound effort deflected over by Murphy’s timely interception, before Green showed perfect judgement in timing his run to stop Bateman, after the big Berko frontman got clean through.
Nick Elliott replied for WGC bringing Weatherill to a good stop with an effort from 20 yards, before the Berkhamsted keeper was extended twice more in the half’s closing minutes by Elliott again and substitute Dan Bond, who had replaced the injured George Ironton (thigh) in 25 minutes.
Clements opened the second-half with two snap efforts that Weatherill kept out at full stretch, as WGC promised better.
Just before the hour, they had the ball in the net. The ball beat Weatherill from a deflection off his own full-back Manny Folarin, from Lovell’s powerful header, but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Six minutes later, WGC were trailing. Berko winger James Towell got away down the right and put over a tantilising cross between defender Lovell and keeper Green that saw Bateman get between them and stab home.
The Citizens brought on recent signing Kaan Fehmi and Kersey to join Clements and Bond and play the last quarter with four forwards.
Fehmi had an effort on the turn, deflected over and Kersey was inches from turning in a good Bond cross, but that was as close as the Herns Lane side came, as time ran out on another very frustrating afternoon.
WGC: Green, Hunt, Rolfe, Lovell, Sexton, Close (Kersey 77), Elliott, Ironton (Bond 25), Spaul, Clements, Williams (Fehmi 62).