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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

THERE can scarcely have been a more obvious game of two halves than this first clash between WGC and relegated Leighton Town in a decade.


In the first 45 minutes, Adam Fisher's team were totally dominated, outplayed and very much second best to a Leighton side back in the South Midlands League, after 10 years in Southern League football, following last season's relegation.


After the break and in the face of a stinging rebuke from Fisher and his coaching staff, WGC were very much better, being equally dominant as their hosts had been and overturning a two goal deficit to take a deserved point.


Unbeaten in their opening trio of games in the Herts Charity Shield, FA Cup and their first SSML fixture, WGC were unrecognisible from the side that had dominated Oxhey Jets in their opening fixture, in this first-half at Bell Close.


New keeper Jack Metcalfe had to be sharp in seven minutes from the start, home winger Leslie slipping striker Bateman through, forcing the WGC keeper to make a save at his feet.


Leighton full-back Roberts burst forward to hit a long cross-shot inches over the WGC bar, before the visitors had great shouts for a penalty for handball against home defender Hatch, who appeared to handle a Ross Collins free-kick, but referee Hantu was unmoved by the protests.


But it was Leighton making nearly all the running and their dominance was underlined by a 20th minute opening goal. They made progress down the WGC left through Leslie, whose ball picked out Ben Gallant to sweep the ball past Metcalfe from the edge of the area.


WGC lost midfielder Danny Payne with a groin injury moments later, for him to be replaced by the returned Dave Parkinson and then in an active 10 minutes, the visitors had striker Ashley Kersey and skipper Martin Standen both booked, but not before Kersey had headed in a long Jay Welsh cross, only to be ruled offside.


Leighton got back on the offensive and rounded off their superior first-half showing with a spectacular second five minutes from the break, Victor Osobu


lofting a fine free-kick over WGC's defensive wall and beyond Metcalfe into the top corner for a 2-0 interval lead.


WGC replaced Kersey with James Ewington immediately after the break and looked much sharper from the start of the half, obviously reeling under manager Fisher's half-time comments.


Eight minutes into the half. Collins and Luke Robins combined to put Josh Bronti in with his first sight of goal in the game, but home keeper Kirkwood kept the effort out with a sprawling save.


Ewington was sent clear with a fine Yashin Boodhoo ball from the back, but home defender Hatch got back to put in a crucial, goal-saving tackle on the WGC forward.


It was now all WGC pressure as they brought on the impressive Joe Foley as substitute with 20 minutes to go and almost immediately were awarded a penalty that their second-half efforts deserved.


Foley immediately overlapped to good effect and got over a left-wing cross. Bronti retrieved it to find Parkinson, who slipped a couple of challenges before Hatch brought him down. Mr Hantu pointed to the spot and Bronti put away his second penalty of the campaign, for 2-1.


It was all WGC at this stage and a long Welsh flighted ball was knocked down by Ewington for Bronti to volley goalwards, but the effort was just past a post.


Leighton broke out for the first time in the half, defender Maisri finding the dangerous Osobu, but WGC latest signing, defender Sam Doolan, got in a telling tackle in the area.


Back came WGC and with four minutes left, Ewington got away down the right and slotted a low cross across goal where Foley came in on the back post to crash it past keeper Kirkwood for 2-2 and his second goal in as many games.


It was fully deserved, but in the closing minutes Leighton almost regained the lead, Osobu crashing a fierce effort just past Metcalfe's post, while in one of the final raids of the game, Boodhoo's powerful header put Ewington away again. He crossed over the goal, but Bronti coming in on the cross, lost his footing at the vital moment.


WGC: Metcalfe, Doolan, Boodhoo, Standen, Welsh, Payne (Parkinson 27), Fitzgerald, Collins ( Foley 68), Bronti, Kersey (Ewington 46), Robins.

Leighton Town 2 - 2 Welwyn Garden City FC