Point for Citizens away at Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 14:20 21 August 2013 | UPDATED: 14:25 21 August 2013

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A PULSATING, end-to-end Herts derby watched by a large crowd at Rothamsted Park saw Welwyn Garden City draw 2-2 with hosts Harpenden Town.

Citizens’ boss Adam Fisher felt a share of the spoils was just about right, due to a flutter of late chances that could have seen either side take maximum points, but that paid scant regard to WGC’s total dominance of the opening 45 minutes.

A Citizens’ line-up that welcomed back fit again Carl Costain to their defence and saw Daryl Smith start in midfield for the first time this season, were struck blows before the kick-off. Saturday’s five-goal hero Joel Norris and defender Bradley Jenner were both unavailable and Isaac Oppong and Simon Dahl were delayed in traffic.

Fisher switched Liam Kenna to defence and retained Ben Awad and Juan Cifuentes in his midfield.

The absences seem to make little difference as WGC made a blistering start.

Full-back Sam Perrin struck a 20 yarder straight at home keeper Gregory and then Jason Caswell turned inside his defender, but also shot straight at the keeper.

Home skipper Cartwright was forced to an outstanding goal-saving tackle on Caswell, as the big Citizens’ forward sought his fourth goal of the campaign, before Smith hit a fine swerving effort just over the angle of post and bar.

Harpenden hadn’t threatened once in the opening 21 minutes before they took the lead in their first attack.

Ex-WGC player Harry Hunt cut in to whip in a shot that Citizens’ keeper Freddie Hester could only parry and James Ewington was first to the rebound to tuck it away.

It was bitter blow to WGC after such a lively start, but Afful Yeboah quickly hit another sharp effort over and Awad brought a full length save from Gregory, as the visitors pressed for a deserved equaliser.

It came a minute from the break, Smith getting over a long, deep cross to the far post, when Caswell got above his defender to head back across goal, beyond Gregory, into the far corner.

WGC stayed on the offensive at the start of the second half and seven minutes in took the lead with a fine effort from Yeboah, who brought down a right-wing cross to create space, before lashing a rising effort past Gregory into the roof of the net.

Ade Osobu had the chance to stretch the lead further, but was blocked out by Golder in front of goal and then on 68 minutes Harpenden were level.

Hunt broke down the middle and cut in dangerously.

Keeper Hester baulked him, but although the home forward didn’t go down, referee Breeze felt there was sufficient contact to award a penalty - the third WGC have conceded in four games, Ewington slotted it home for 2-2.

The late-arriving Oppong was introduced for Osobu for the final 20 minutes, but Harpenden were now a greater threat that at any time in the game.

Hitchcock headed a Mortimer free-kick just wide for the home side, before Cifuentes was robbed on half-way and Hunt raced clear and looked certain to give his side the lead, until full-back Perrin got in a vital challenge to deflect it wide.

There was a lengthy stoppage when Harpenden’s Tom Warren was injured in a challenge and as the game approached stoppage time, WGC looked to have won it, when Perrin overlapped and crossed, Caswell’s goalbound header was pushed away by keeper Gregory to Smith.

But just when it looked as if he was about to bag the points, home skipper Cartwright got in a magnificent block to preserve the parity.

WGC: Hester, Perrin, Kenna, Costain (Dahl 77), Taylor; Cifuentes (Attfield 90), Awad, Smith, Yeboah; Caswell, Osobu (Oppong 70).


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