DEBUTANT Phil Ball struck late on to rescue 10-man WGC from what would have been a damaging defeat at promotion rivals Wembley.
With three games in hand on SSML Premier Division leaders London Colney, who lost only their third game this season at the weekend, the summit is still potentially in reach, so this point could prove very handy come the end of April.
The result was especially pleasing after the first-half dismissal of youth team keeper Marcus Bourne, with WGC already behind to the hosts’ early goal, with the young keeper bringing down a winger when one-on-one.
Central defender Jay Lovell donned the gloves and remarkably didn't concede a goal for the remainder of the game.
WGC remained in touch at 1-0 throughout and in the final 20 minutes, substitute Ball, youngest son of youth team coach Tim, came off the bench and announced his arrival five minutes later with a fine header.
Following the game, boss Adam Fisher said: “That is one of my proudest results. After the 6-0 loss to Tring in December, I asked the players to prove that they want to be at the club long term and they certainly did that here.”
Fisher’s men travelled to Wembley with eight regular first team players unavailable and took a squad with an average age of just 22, including youth teamers Bourne, Ball, Liam Tring and Reggie Ross and 19-year-olds Carl Mensah and Levi Gunn.
WGC started really brightly and created two early chances through the willing running and creativity of Dave Parkinson and Gunn.
With the Citizens in control and dominating possession, they gave away a cheap free-kick out on the by-line 30 yards from goal. The delivery was put into a dangerous area between keeper and penalty spot and was bundled in by a home player, against the run of play.
Minutes later, Bourne saw red for his goal-preventing challenge, leaving Lovell to stand guard between the sticks. Nevertheless, WGC didn’t allow their opponents a shot on goal and continued to play on the front foot until half-time.
There was some re-organising needed at half time and the tactical changes certainly proved to be beneficial with WGC defending their own half and leaving the pace of Parkinson and the work rate of Caswell and Gunn in wide areas to allow plenty of chances on the counter.
It was a real gritty and determined defensive display which culminated in stand- in keeper Lovell only having two real saves to make.
Parkinson manufactured two half chances for himself, Carl Mensah went close with a header and midfielder Joe Price also went close with a long-range effort.
Soon after Ball was thrust into the action and the change produced a fully deserved equaliser.
A free-kick from a wide area was swung to the far post where Ball rose to head in the deserved equaliser.