The Comrades draw 2-2 with a battling Welwyn side
A good crowd witnessed a battling draw at Broadwater between the two Herts teams in the Evo Stik Southern League Division One Central.
Both sides were unrecognisable from the clubs who won promotion from the SSML Premier last term.
Max Farrelly was back for Berko and 16-year-old Antonis Vasilious, from Barnet, made his first start for the Comrades, watched by Bees’ manager Darren Currie.
Welwyn’s new boss Dean Barker has had to replace much of his team this month after a financial dispute and gave debuts to forward Sydney Ibie, on loan from Hemel Town, and midfielder Jesse Walklin, of Sholing FC.
After an even opening spell Berko’s Matt Bateman broke the deadlock on 32 minutes with a looping header over keeper Lewis Todd from Elliott Godfrey’s inviting cross.
City were taking no prisoners in midfield and Walklin got a caution for a bad tackle on Connor Toomey. Soon after Charlie Pattison joined him after a forearm smash to the chest of Berko’s Karl Stevenson had the home fans calling for a red card for the young loanee from MK Dons. Danny Murphy had to replace the injured Stevenson.
Welwyn were back on level terms three minutes’ later when Pattison headed in from close range after a Dave Keenleyside free-kick was blocked on the line.
Bateman restored Berko’s lead on 51 minutes with his 32nd goal of the season when he headed home superbly at the far post after a good cross from young Vasilious.
Walklin was then shown a second yellow card to send City down to ten men.
But a superb individual goal on 73 minutes from Keenleyside levelled matters at 2-2. Questions will be asked about how he managed to shrug off so many challenges in a run down the middle.
Berko still looked like they could go on to win as Bateman nearly got a hat-trick but he was denied by the post. That proved expensive as despite boss Steve Bateman bringing on ex-Thame United and Aylesbury man Harry Scott for his debut and Lamar Simpson, time ran out for the Comrades.
It is a tight division and Berko have now drawn three times this month. In each case they had their noses in front, but were unable to close out the games.
Berko now face two important away league games on the trot. They were due to visit 10th-placed Bedford Town last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press, then travel to eighth-ranked Coleshill this Saturday.
Ben Spaul, a new signing from Welwyn, could make his debut for Berko.