Welwyn Garden City get out of jail to deny Colney Heath a winning start to their new era

Matty Campbell-Mhlope grabbed the winner for Welwyn Garden City against Colney Heath.

Matty Campbell-Mhlope grabbed the winner for Welwyn Garden City against Colney Heath. - Credit: PETER SHORT

Two goals in two minutes in the closing stages rescued three points for Welwyn Garden City and ruined the perfect start for Colney Heath's new manager.

Ant Burns took charge of the rock-bottom Magpies following Ryan Thompson's resignation on Sunday and for 80 minutes it appeared as if he would oversee only a second Southern League victory, Bailey Stevenson having scored in five minutes.

But with 10 minutes to go George Ironton rifled in an equaliser and two minutes later Matty Campbell-Mhlope hit a first-time effort off the underside of the crossbar to complete the turnaround and a 2-1 win.

It wasn't anywhere near their best but after enjoying the lion's share of possession, there will at least be satisfaction at having got the win.

For the Magpies there will be the obvious disappointment but there was much to be happy with too after what has been a traumatic few days, some senior players also following the manager out of the door.

And but for a huge slice of bad luck in stoppage time, they could have claimed a deserved point.

Burns's first team as gaffer saw five changes from the starting line-up in the defeat to Wantage on Saturday.

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Out went Hadley Gleeson, Jon Clements, Jack Woods, George Sippetts and Jack McShane with Josip Jevdjic, Carlos Simao, Ben Long, Kamal McEwen and Bailey Stevenson coming in.

There was almost as many for the home side with Ryan Doherty, Lee Close, George Ironton and Callum Taylor replacing Carl Mensah, Ben Spaul, Jack Vasey and Cyrus Babaie from the 11 started in the 1-0 defeat to Bedford Town.

If the new Magpies boss could have written the script, he would have probably gone for an early goal and a half-time lead.

He got both with Stevenson rasping drive into the roof the net the perfect start.

It was a lovely move to set him up with a quick throw out by Tiernan Parker being gathered by Simao.

He ran at the defence, as he did whenever he got the ball, before slipping it to the number nine, who got his shot away at the second attempt.

Simao had been signed last week after spells at Cockfosters and Oxhey Jets and could have doubled the lead after Doherty had been robbed.

His shot across goal from the left was pushed out by Charlie Crowley and Jon Sexton completed the clearance before Stevenson could pounce.

But the majority of the first half belonged to the hosts with a spell midway through in particular bringing them close to an equaliser.

Matty Campbell-Mhlope hit the face of the crossbar with a cross from right while Dave Keenleyside was just off target with a dipping effort from 30 yards.

Close headed just wide while Taylor was also off target while their best chance came from an excellent Jordan Watson delivery from the left.

Campbell-Mhlope somehow couldn't turn it home at the back post but he kept it alive, laying it back to Ironton.

The midfielder sent his effort harmlessly over the top though.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Welwyn came out with a fire and the opening 15 minutes of the half was played at a ridiculously fast tempo, almost akin to a cup tie.

There was a half chance for Ironton that needed to be rushed but it did force Parker into a save.

Campbell-Mhlope should have at least done the same with a header from a Babaie cross, part of a double home sub nine minutes after the restart.

He connected with it but nowhere near good enough considering he was unmarked and it drifted wide.

The growing frustrations from the home side were becoming more and more evident as the game moved towards its conclusion and Colney in a rare foray forward had a shot from McEwen go wide.

It was also starting to look unlikely that Welwyn could find a way back into it but that was until those final 10 minutes.

Colney Heath weren't done that and in five minutes of stoppage time they were denied twice.

Simao hit a superb free-kick that Crowley did fantastically well to push over the top and from the corner Kyle Rahho's header rattled off the bar and bounced down before bouncing out.

They claimed goal but the linesman said no and with that went the chance of a deserved point.

WGC: Crowley, Doherty (Vasey 54), Sexton, Walklin, Close, Rolfe, Campbell-Mhlope, Keenleyside, Watson, Ironton, Taylor (Babaie 54).

Subs (not used): Adinna, Mensah, Spaul.

Goals: Ironton 80, Campbell-Mhlope 82

Booked: Walklin 41

Colney Heath: Parker, Lewis, Jevdjic, Jessop, Rahho, Lovell, Simao, Long (Laughton 86), Stevenson (McShane 75), Brown, McEwen (Allman 84).

Subs (not used): Knaggs, O'Connor.

Goal: Stevenson 5

Booked: Lewis 21

HT: Welwyn Garden City 0 Colney Heath 1

Referee: George Warren (South-west London)

Attendance: 221

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