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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

IN a carbon-copy of the clubs’ first meeting five weeks before at Herns Lane, WGC and their Midland opponents Sutton Coldfield produced an almost identical 1-1 draw to Dean Barker’s first game in charge of the Citizens.


On that occasion, new boss Barker - in charge for just four days at the BP Mitchell Stadium - had to field something of a scratch side in his first game in charge.


This time, WGC’s line-up is much more settled outfit after a spate of signings and this was the latest in a series of battling draws, the new-look Clarets have produced.


Since the start of the Barker reign, WGC have drawn five of their six fixtures and remain unbeaten in league action.


They almost had their second victory in that run here, holding onto a precious 56th minute lead given them by an outstanding Eusebio Da Silva header – his third goal in two games - until two minutes from the end of normal time.


Then referee Scott Robertson, who angered both sides with his somewhat indifferent performance, awarded Sutton Coldfield a soft penalty, when WGC substitute Taishan Griffith tussled just inside the visitors’ area with home full-back Dan George and both went down in a heap.


Mr Robertson, who 10 minutes before had turned down a huge home shout for a spot-kick against the outstanding Jay Rolfe for handball, looked to many to have made amends with this award.


Home top scorer Ryan Nesbitt, netted his 24th of the season by ramming home the kick to earn the Midlanders a point, which their late second-half pressure probably deserved.


It was a similar ending to the home meeting between the sides in mid-January, when strong pressure saw Sutton Coldfield also equalise a couple of minutes from the end, after Jon Sexton, who had a terrific game here, had put WGC ahead close to half-time.


It took WGC time to adjust to the 3G pitch at Coles Lane, that is home to Sutton Coldfield.


They almost fell behind in five minutes, restored keeper Lewis Todd opting to punch George’s long cross away but only to winger Alex Moore, whose on-target effort was cleared off the line in excellent style by Jay Rolfe.


Two minutes later, Nesbitt powered a strong effort over Todd’s crossbar as the home side clearly settled the better.


The opening half clearly belonged to Sutton Coldfield, as Hurst went close with another blockbuster just wide and Rolfe and Sexton, the pick of WGC’s backline, both got in the way of goalbound efforts to keep the visitors level at half-time.


More early Sutton Coldfield pressure at the start of the second-half saw the dangerous Nesbitt get the better of Ivan Agyaakwah, but keeper Todd rescued the situation, beating the effort away.


So it was somewhat against the run of play when WGC forced three corners in quick succession 10 minutes into the second period.


From the third of these, skipper Dave Keenleyside floated a fine flag kick to the back post, where Eusebio Da Silva escaped his marker and


returned a fine header across the goal to net at the near post and delight the travelling WGC contingent.


The home side rang the changes and this brought a fine, double save from Todd, when first Niall Flint hit a rasping effort that the keeper parried and then the keeper leapt up to block Nesbitt’s follow-up effort in great style.


WGC made three changes of their own, bringing on new signing David Manu, recruited from Wingate & Finchley, as well as Isaac Ebelebe and the unlucky Griffith to try and defend their lead.


They survived some narrow scrapes before the late penalty and even though the home side twice came within a whisker of a winner in the five minutes stoppage time that Mr Robertson found, a spirited WGC held on for another precious point.


WGC: Todd, Carr, Agyaakwah, Rolfe, Sexton, Walklin (Ebelebe 70 mins), Pattison, Keenleyside, Alomenu (Manu 65 mins), Campbell-Mhlope (Griffith 77 mins), Da Silva.

Sutton Coldfield 1 - 1 Welwyn Garden City