Goal-den start to 2022 from inspired Welwyn Garden City at Barton Rovers

Matty Campbell-Mhlope enjoyed a great game for Welwyn Garden City t Barton Rovers.

Matty Campbell-Mhlope enjoyed a great game for Welwyn Garden City t Barton Rovers. - Credit: PETER SHORT

Welwyn Garden City's desire for more goals was rewarded with a five-star show away to Barton Rovers.

Jon Clements and an own-goal preceded a Matty Campbell-Mhlope double before Jordan Watson completed the 5-2 victory, spoilt only by the two goals for the hosts

Former Ilford striker Yemi Adelani made his debut for Welwyn Garden City after signing from Walthamstow.

Former Ilford striker Yemi Adelani made his debut for Welwyn Garden City after signing from Walthamstow. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Yemi Adelani, a new signing from Walthamstow, had been brought in to bring the goals and was denied a scoring start by the offside flag late on but manager Nick Ironton will be delighted by the response of his existing squad, especially Campbell-Mhlope who put in his best performance in a Welwyn short for a while.

Welwyn Garden City travelled to Barton Rovers for their first Southern League game of 2022.

Welwyn Garden City travelled to Barton Rovers for their first Southern League game of 2022. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

There were two changes for City from the disappointing 1-1 draw with Kidlington, Charlie Crowley replacing Adam O'Neill in goal and Lee Close returning in place of  the unavailable Jesse Walklin.

Adelani, took his place on a strong bench which included the returning Cyrus Babaie and Jon Sexton, two of the club's COVID-19 victims.

New Year's Day games can be lacklustre in the extreme as the excess of the festive period, and the late night hours before, catches up with the players.

Not so at Sharpenhoe Road as both sides simply decided to score with virtually every shot in the first period.

Jon Clements put Welwyn Garden City ahead after just 49 seconds against Barton Rovers.

Jon Clements put Welwyn Garden City ahead after just 49 seconds against Barton Rovers. - Credit: KARYN HADDON

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Welwyn started the fun and games after just 49 seconds, George Ironton's charging run through the middle right for Clements to drill low into the far corner.

The lead didn't last long as a cross from the left for Barton was shovelled in by Dean Drummett on six minutes, despite Crowley getting something on it.

But parity didn't last long either, City going back in front on 12 minutes when Ironton's corner from the left got caught on the wind, flying over Kyle Forster and bouncing in off the unfortunate Lewis Thomas for an own goal.

A period of relative calm followed although there was still a shot from Ironton after a decent move that needed Forster to make a good stop, before the keeper pulled off a couple of fine reaction saves from another Ironton set-piece.

They did finally get the third their play had warranted after Jordan Watson was denied getting a shot off by a bobbling ball.

He sensibly laid it back to Campbell-Mhlope who fired across the keeper and in off the post.

Ironton almost, and probably should have made it four from a similar position where Clements got his goal, this time though the low effort just drifted an inch or so wide.

But the scoring in the first half wasn't over and a soft goal from a Welwyn point of view, lost cheaply up front and then a long ball over a flat-footed defence for Coree Wilson to lob Crowley, meant the Citizens' lead at the break was still fragile.

It may have been wiped out altogether had Wilson got a better connection to a Murphy Scott-Culkin cross in stoppage time, and Welwyn left the field a little rattled.

They returned with a different line-up, Lewis Franklin replaced by Jay Rolfe, Ryan Doherty moving to right-back from the middle of the back four.

It didn't stop the goals but thankfully for the visitors, it came at the other end and restored their two-goal advantage.

It was also a second for Campbell-Mhlope and was a deserved one for his persistence and strength.

He held it up despite the attentions of both centre-halves and  after turning, he fired it through the legs of the defender and into the far corner again.

From there WGC enjoyed some good territory and chances.

Clements curled one through a crowd but Forster hung on and Ironton fired another wide after good work down the left.

Campbell-Mhlope, clearly lifted by his brace, was in particularly fine form and when he wasn't scampering across the uneven turf with relative ease, he was firing a chance for a hat-trick across the face of goal.

Adelani came on for his debut after 56 minutes but never got a clear-cut chance until six minutes from time when the linesman's flag robbed him.

It didn't matter too much as another three points keeps them on the heels of the play-off pack.

And if they keep the goals in the team, they should climb into that top five soon enough.


WGC: Crowley, Franklin (Rolfe 46), Taylor, Spaul (Adelani 56), Close, Doherty, Clements (Babaie 82), Keenleyside, Watson, Ironton, Campbell-Mhlope.

Subs (not used): Krasniqi, Sexton.

Goals: Clements 1, Thomas (og) 12, Campbell-Mhlope 32, 51, Watson 81

Booked: Watson 67


Barton Rovers: Forster, Drummett, Phelan, Thomas, Powell, Wilson, Regis, Bell, Palmer (Hannah 63), Scott-Culkin, Andrews. 

Subs (not used): Williams, Purse, Burnett.

Goals: Drummett 6, Wilson 39

Booked: Forster 13, Powell 49, Palmer 60, Phelan 73


HT: Barton Rovers 2 Welwyn Garden City 3

Referee: Graham Swanton (Sawbridgeworth)

Attendance: 132

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