True grit from Welwyn Garden City at Coleshill as injuries ravage squad

PUBLISHED: 08:31 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:42 24 February 2020

Dylan Ebengo was the latest to join the Welwyn Garden City casualty list. Picture: DANNY LOO

Dylan Ebengo was the latest to join the Welwyn Garden City casualty list. Picture: DANNY LOO

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Teams that win promotion often have to display equal amounts of flamboyancy and grit. Welwyn Garden City’s 0-0 draw away to Coleshill Town was certainly in the latter category.

The Citizens travelled to the Warwickshire without nine first-team regulars as both injury and unavailability ravaged the squad.

Their hosts have held the upper hand in each of the last two meetings as well, including a 3-0 win at Herns Lane back in November.

But their makeshift line-up gave a defiant display on the synthetic surface at Pack Meadow, far better than then they did at Warwickshire neighbours Bedworth two weeks earlier.

Dylan Ebengo and Callum Taylor joined the walking wounded this week while Lee Close and Dave Keenleyside were absent from the side who had beaten Kempston Rovers in midweek.

With outstanding performances from acting skipper Jack Bradshaw and central defender Ali Nije, supported by sound displays from the likes of Jay Rolfe, Jon Sexton, Callum Stead and Charlie Payne, WGC began the game in good shape.

Nije made a fine interception to set up a shooting opportunity for Stead, which he struck just wide on four minutes, and they had a glorious chance six minutes later when Hani Berchiche, making his full debut, set up Jordan Watson only for the makeshift forward to pull his effort across the face of goal.

At the other end Edison Antonio volleyed wide and George Washbourne was stopped by a Nije block.

City made a double change midway through the second half, forced partly by the recurrence of an old knee injury for Berchiche.

On came Gerardo Smaldone and teenager Alex Harris and the homegrown youngster was needed to stop a stabbed Ethan Mannion shot on the line.

With six minutes to go, Watson was put clear for the second time in the game but after the Welwyn man and Coleshill pair Joseph Cole and Paul Hathaway had gone to ground, it was the home goalkeeper who got up first and prevented City from snatching a late victory.

The result though keeps WGC firmly in the play-off race in Southern League Division One Central, remaining fourth with 11 games to go.

They go to Kidlington on Saturday.

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