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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921

FC

Herns Way, Panshanger, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL7 1TA

NEW central defender Sam Doolan experienced both the highs and lows of playing for his new club in this fixture at Tring Athletic on Saturday.

 

Playing his second game for the Citizens, but his first in his accustomed position at the heart of the defence, Doolan fired WGC into a half-time lead in the game, but nine minutes after the restart, conceded the penalty that allowed Tring to take a share of the points.

 

WGC manager Adam Fisher was more satisfied with this performance after last week's shock FA Cup exit at Stotfold. "This was more like us. I felt we shaded this game and were the better team throughout. I'm disappointed with only a point, but lots about the display was much better,'' he said.

 

Part of that was due to Doolan's inclusion in the centre of defence, alongside John McGrandles. He gave an impeccable display - apart from his 54th minute lapse - in a WGC defence that also saw full-back Lewis Endacott put in a fine shift.

 

Doolan had been unavailable for the Stotfold tie and had made his debut a week before at Leighton Town, in the unaccustomed position of right-back.

 

WGC made a slow, uncertain start to this game and in six minutes almost conceded a comical opener to the home side.

 

Jay Welsh opted for an ill advised back pass to keeper Joe Croft, in for the unavailable Jack Metcalfe. Croft had home forward Chris Vardy breathing down his neck and cleared his kick against the Tring forward, only for the rebound to clear the keeper and bounce inches past his far post, in a real let-off.

 

Dave Parkinson then gave the ball away in a dangerous area, but Croft rescued the situation with a challenge at the feet of Tring's Adam Scotcher.

 

Fine work by Doolan, stepping out of defence to intercept and then send Josh Bronti away with a sweeping ball, saw the winger cut in and stab an underhit effort past home keeper Hopwood. The effort didn't carry sufficient strength to reach the goal and home skipper Sam Joliffe got back to clear WGC's first real attack, off the line.

 

Ash Kersey turned well onto a fine through ball provided by Endacott, but just when the big forward shaped to shoot, Tring defender Bokka got in a telling challenge.

 

Then just past the half-hour, WGC were ahead. They forced a free-kick out on the left and although Danny Payne's kick was aimed for Kersey, defender Doolan got in behind him to stab the loose ball past Hopwood into the roof of the net.

 

It was a deserved lead, emphasised by another Kersey header five minutes later, also from a free-kick, that clipped the crossbar in going over, that many of the WGC contingent in the crowd thinking it was in!

 

Only in the closing minutes of the half, did Tring look dangerous and Endacott had to be at full stretch to clear a Luke Dunstan effort away from an unguarded net, just before the break.

 

But after WGC opened the second-half with another Kersey headed effort inches over, Tring found an equaliser, Doolan blotting his otherwise impressive copybook, with a somewhat rash challenge on Scotcher in the area that referee Kerten ruled a foul, awarding a spot-kick from which Joliffe fired his side level.

 

Despite the setback, WGC continued to look the more dangerous side and first the impressive Danny Fitzgerald, anchoring things in midfield and then Bronti hit 25 yard efforts that forced Hopwood into diving saves.

 

In 73 minutes, a fiercely driven cross in from the right almost regained WGC's lead. Endacott delivered it and home skipper Joliffe in attempting to clear, saw his full blooded header crash against his own crossbar and bounce out to safety.

 

Manager Fisher rang the changes in the closing stages, including introducing James Ewington for the ineffective Parkinson. Ewington immediately chased a through ball and clipped a fine cross in for Bronti, who was narrowly wide with a sharpheader.

 

Tring hardly threatened to find a winner until the game's final minutes, when from an isolated corner, central defender O'Connor won his header to nod an effort inches wide of Croft's post.

 

Although a home winner at that point would have been totally unjust on WGC's improved display.

 

WGC: Croft, Endacott, McGrandles, Doolan, Welsh, Payne (Collins 82), Fitzgerald, Robins (Arnott 82), Bronti, Kersey, Parkinson (Ewington78).

Tring Athletic 1 - 1 Welwyn Garden City FC