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Welwyn Garden City

Home of the "Citizens" - Established 1921


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

THIS first meeting of these two sides this season, was overwhelmingly the classic game of two halves.


There was a sense of a Manuel Pellegrini-style 'sacrifice' about WGC's performance in the first 45 minutes, as boss Adam Fisher already without the unavailable John McGrandles and Jason Caswell and with Dave Parkinson suspended, opted to rest Ashley Kersey, Danny Payne and Jay Welsh, on the bench, as he rotated his squad.


As a result the starting Citizens line-up had a very inexperienced and youthful look about it, including youth-team striker Jordan Tring for his first-team debut, with his identical twin, defender Liam, on the bench.


Fisher was clearly bearing in mind WGC's four game in seven days programme this week and priortising last Monday night's Premier Cup semi-final with Hadley at Potters Bar.


Berko, who reached the last 16 of the FA Vase this season and have been high up the table all campaign, dominated the opening 45 minutes, scored twice and probably could have had more. In contrast, WGC didn't have one serious effort on the home goal.


The West Herts side showed their intent, when giant forward Jude Ejobi reached a high ball forward just before WGC's Joe Croft, lifting it over the keeper and the bar, inside five minutes.


Berkhamsted's Adiel Mannion then drove another effort just past a post in the home team's strong start.


WGC were defending well enough in the opening 20 minutes, but offering no threat and fell behind in 23 minutes, Berko's Adam Mead delivering a good free-kick into the centre of the WGC area, where fellow midfielder Max Farrelly came in to force it past Croft from close range.


Moments later, WGC had a major escape as the powerful Ejobi got to another Mead set piece to beat Croft with his header, only to see it hit the bar.


A second home goal looked inevitable and came in 35 minutes, when Josh Chamberlain outstripped Carl Mensah down the left by-line and drove hard across goal, Mannion coming in on the far post to slam in the second.


At half-time, Berkhamsted officials were baffled that this was the WGC team that was comfortably in upper table like themselves and in two cup semi-finals, but in the second-half boss Fisher gave them reason to think again.


He immediately introduced Kersey and Payne after the interval and brought on Welsh 20 minutes in.


The moves changed the game completely. From the early minutes of the second-half, WGC looked a different team.


They became the dominant side, playing some sweet, flowing football. Within five minutes of the restart, Payne threaded through a studied pass to Luke Robins, who hit WGC's best effort of the afternoon, turned around a post by home keeper Tasker, in his first real exertion of the game.


WGC continued to impress and the tireless Joe Price and Robins switched passes to find Josh Bronti, who turned well, only to lift another effort just over the bar.


There were further chances for Bronti again and Payne late on, but both were skied over, as unfortunately WGC couldn't cap their vast improvement with a deserved goal.


The home side, in contrast, didn't produce one serious threat on the WGC goal after the break.


With Berko still to visit Herns Lane in April and a possible meeting between the sides in the League Challenge Trophy final, at least the Citizens gave their hosts something to think about with their vastly improved second-half showing.


WGC: Croft, Perrin, Boodhoo, Mensah, Lovell, Price, Smith (Payne 45), Dimmock (Kersey 45), Bronti, Tring (J) (Welsh 65), Robins.

Berkhamsted 2 - 0 Welwyn Garden City FC