WINGATEWEBMaidstone United beat Wingate & Finchley 4-2 in an entertaining match, the Blues’ first game of the year, writes Paul Lerner.

Ryman League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley 2 Maidstone United 4
Tuesday, 14 January, 2014

**UPDATED TABLE**

The visitors got off to a flying start as Wingate appeared rusty following the enforced three week break, and Frannie Collin scored in only the sixth minute; a long throw surprising the back line and the striker had a simple tap in from a low cross. Collin was lively with a fierce drive that Bobby Smith smothered well soon afterwards.

Lewis Jones tested the visiting keeper with a low drive in a rare chance for Wingate, but the hosts were pinned back again and on 19 minutes Fabio Saraiva deservedly doubled Maidstone’s lead. A long ball out to the left wing opened the play, and Saraiva also slotted home a low cross at the near post.

Ahmet Rifat went off injured shortly after the goal after turning his ankle, and was replaced by debutant Ola Sogbanmu. The striker pulled a goal back on the half hour mark, with an instinctive finish on the turn from the edge of the area – the ball rolling in off the left post.

The match began to even out after Maidstone’s early dominance, and Wingate levelled through Sogbanmu two minutes after the break following an uncleared corner. He charged down a defender’s clearance from close range and saw the ball nestle nicely in the corner.

With the scores now level Maidstone stepped up the pace again. Saraiva sent a vicious free-kick narrowly over, and Rory Hill sent a header wide of the far post as Maidstone remained threatening through the second half. Alex Flisher shot with a ferocious drive from a wide angle which Bobby Smith parried behind with strong hands. However, the pressure finally told as Saraiva showed superb technique and doubled his tally in the 65th minute, with a firm drive from the edge of the box.

Wingate now looked to attack and a Spencer McCall cross was headed on target by Adam Bolle but goalkeeper Lee Worgan was well-positioned and held the ball. Hector Morante was brought on in a tactical reshuffle, and he looked creative showing his usual trickery, but Maidstone defended well and were hard to break down. Sogbanmu drilled a shot over the bar, before Saraiva secured his hat-trick and the win with three minutes remaining, slotting home a penalty after a poor dive conned the referee.

Wingate will visit Bedfont and Feltham on a Wednesday in the Middlesex County Cup and then host Leiston in the league on Saturday.

Wingate & Finchley Lineup:
Smith B, Nielsen (Smith 65), Wright, Tejan-Sie, Weatherstone, Aisien, Jones, Henry (Morante 46), Rifat (Sogbanmu 22), Bolle, McCall. Subs: Owen, Hart.

Referee:
J Richardson

Attendance:
197

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