WELWYN GC twice battled back from a goal down to take what could be a precious point on their visit to bottom-of-the-table North Leigh.
The exciting 3-3 draw deep in the Oxfordshire countryside, brought WGC their first point for seven weeks and ended a potentially damaging run of seven straight losses. They hold a seven point cushion over their hosts.
And in a game which ebbed and flowed throughout the 90 minutes, both side got on terms within a minute of falling behind, to show the closeness of the contest.
North Leigh, although anchored at the foot of the table for most of the season, have real belief that they can escape relegation, based on an influx of new players and their shock 4-0 success the previous week, away to play-off chasing Coleshill.
WGC, without the unavailable Dave Keenleyside and new signing Henry Ochieng, in midfield, nevertheless made a good start, Matty Campbell-Mhlope slipping past two home defenders to loft his shot just wide in the opening minute.
On seven minutes, the Citizens were ahead. Eoin McKeown lost his marker from an early Campbell-Mhlope corner and bulleted a header home for his first WGC goal,
But the lead lasted just a minute. North Leigh went down the other end, forced a free-kick and from it, WGC left home defender Andy Gunn, similiarly unattended, to crash in the equaliser.
Within six minutes, the home side were in front. Dangerous winger Noah Alabi got past WGC’s Isaac Ebelebe. The effort was cleared out to Henry Landers, scorer of 12 goals in as many games for the home side and he fired a ferocious effort that left keeper Lewis Todd with no chance.
The nearest that WGC came to getting back on terms before the interval, saw Campbell-Mhlope make another strong run to feed McKeown, but his fierce effort went just wide of the post.
It took WGC 10 minutes into the second-half to get back on terms. Charlie Pattison, taking on the Keenleyside role of player-maker in the side, beautifully cut back a low cross from the right into a group of WGC players, from where Eusebio Da Silva emerged to strike a low effort past home keeper Cavanagh.
Pattison, reveling in his role, placed a clever shot wide of Cavanagh on the hour, only to see the effort come back off the post, before a minute later, North Leigh re-took the lead, this time Landers striking an outstanding free-kick around the WGC defensive wall into the top corner.
For the second time in the game, the lead lasted just one minute.
From a free-kick of their own, Da Silva set up Campbell-Mhlope, whose well placed, lofted effort took a deflection off a home player to beat Cavanagh low down.
The action continued thick and fast and WGC only preserved parity when Dylan Ebengo made a miraculous clearance off the line, after North Leigh’s George Seacole had rounded Todd and shot at an empty net.
Ebengo was further in the action nine minutes from the end. Having tussled with keeper Cavanagh after WGC’s third equaliser to get the ball and the game restarted, pushing over the keeper to earn a booking. He was shown red for a heavy challenge on Alabi on 81 minutes.
In keeping with the game, the Herns Lane side were only at a man disadvantage for three minutes, when North Leigh’s Harry Grant was given a straight red by referee Holden for a poor, over-the-top challenge on Eusebio Da Silva, ensusing that the sides finished on level terms in every respect.
WGC: Todd, Mace, Rolfe, Ebengo, Sexton, Ebelebe (Dupay 80), Pattison, Campbell-Mhlope (Ocran 88), McKeown, Da Silva, Bailey (Humphrey 82).