WELWYN GC rescued their unbeaten record with a stoppage time goal and in doing so, set a new club record of 19 games unbeaten.
But the Citizens’ impressive league start this campaign was in great jeopardy, as a Leverstock Green side, beaten 6-0 on their own ground less than a month ago by Adam Fisher’s rampant side, gave WGC their sternest home test so far.
In fact, the Clarets were lucky to emerge with a point in a game in which they were second best to their Hemel Hempstead visitors for most of the 90 minutes.
The equalizer two minutes into stoppage time was a personal redemption for full-back Jay Rolfe, whose unfortunate own goal nine minutes from time had given Leverstock Green the lead for the second time in the game.
With time running out and WGC’s unbeaten record seemingly doomed, Rolfe collected 20 yards out and struck a low drive past keeper Doyle-Creamer into the bottom corner with almost the last kick of the game.
Eleven minutes before, the visiting Greens had restored their lead when substitute Jonathan Lacey got down the WGC left and put over a tantilising cross that an unfortunate Rolfe couldn’t help but turn into his own net, in a desperate effort to clear.
WGC almost took the lead in the first attack of the game. A Charlie Joy free-kick caused confusion in the visitors’ defence and keeper Doyle-Creamer had to save at Yasin Boodhoo’s feet.
But that was as good as it got for the Citizens in the opening stages, as Leverstock looked a very different proposition from the previous meeting between the sides just weeks before.
In Matt Bateman, son of current table-topping rivals Berkhamsted’s manager Steve, the visitors had the game’s outstanding performer and the lanky forward gave WGC’s backline trouble all afternoon.
So it was no real surprise 13 minutes in, that he put the Hemel side ahead, having gone close twice, minutes before. He pulled down a high cross, turned between two WGC defenders and struck his effort low past keeper Charlie May in one movement.
In fact, the Citizens didn’t forge a single opening until just past the half-hour mark, when Charlie Rome struck a shot goalward that was deflected around for a corner. Paul Marks met the flag-kick, but powered his header well over.
A sharp stop by May with his legs denied Bateman a second goal before WGC fashioned a fine equalizer with really only their decent move of the half.
Rolfe came forward and judged a beautifully flighted ball to the back post where Charlie Joy met with a matching volley that flew in.
Hopes of a better second-half showing from the Herns Lane side were soon dispelled, as Leverstock picked up where they had left off, McCarthy powering another header just wide.
The ball sat up nicely for another Joy volley, but this time it was straight at the keeper, as WGC burst into action, onlu occasionally.
Yasin Boodhoo was inches away from reaching a pinpoint Joy centre, skipper Woods saving the day for the visitors, who looked to have
scorned the best opening of the half, when Lacey ran clear taking advantage of a fortunate rebound off Marks with 15 minutes left.
With McGrandles pressing him, the Leverstock substitute shot wide, when only confronted by keeper May.
But if it looked as though WGC had enjoyed a reprieve from that close call, Lacey did much better with the cross that forced the own goal to finally restore Leverstock Green’s lead with nine minutes to go.
The fact that WGC saved themselves, was due to their unstinting spirit, rather than any flowing football in the dying moments.
So, at least, manager Fisher can take some positives from that, in a home performance that is best forgotten.
WGC: May, Rolfe, Boodhoo, McGrandles, Corran, Marks, Rome (Kersey 57), Spaul (Long 75), Bronti (Ironton 77), Clements, Joy.