Ryman Premier League:
Billericay Town 2 Wingate & Finchley 3
Saturday, 20 September, 2014
The Blues have in the past struggled in these types of games, against physically intimidating sides on intentionally poor pitches, but this victory shows just how far the league’s fourth placed side have progressed.
Both sides came into the game on good form, and the hosts took the lead early on; Richard Halle scored from a far post header in only the sixth minute. Rob Laney nearly scored a header of his own at the other end, but Jeffrey Imudia cleared the ball off the line.
David Knight was bizarrely hacked down inside the box by Steve Sheehan in the 11th minute, giving him the chance to equalise against his former club. He made no mistake from the spot clinically finding the bottom corner.
The Wingate front two were working well together, and Knight crossed to Laney but his skimmed header missed the far post. For Billericay, Rowan Liburd was put through down the middle of the pitch, but Bobby Smith did well to block the shot as the ball rebounded off the striker for a goal kick.
Halle should have seen red for a horrific two-footed challenge, but was only given a yellow card. This foul seemed to intimidate Wingate who needed five minutes to regain their composure.
They then scored on the half hour mark. Karl Oliyide showed trickery to make space on the right flank. He played the ball to Knight, whose deep left-footed cross was met by Tommy Tejan-Sie at the back post and he rolled the ball home.
The visitors were still the ones creating chances, and Tejan-Sie crossed low after excellent pressure play from Laney, however Carl McCluskey skewed his shot wide.
After the break, Wingate began to sit back and soak up pressure. Billericay’s debutant Harry Baker floated in a free-kick, and the flight beat everyone and took a dodgy bounce off the poor uneven surface as it narrowly missed the far post.
Billericay dominated possession but created few chances against a solid defence, with Stuart Lake assisting Rifat and Weatherstone. At the other end, Knight drilled a cross which McCluskey headed on target but straight at keeper Lumley. Glenn Poole equalised on 75 minutes after Billericay won the ball from Wingate’s throw, as he drilled a powerful low drive through Smith from 20 yards.
The game was still tight, but Laney was put through for Wingate behind a static defence, and rode a very heavy challenge to earn a one-on-one. However, he could not lift the ball over the onrushing keeper who blocked with his legs. Rifat went close too with a low shot that Lumley got his body behind low to his left side.
Nico Muir was brought on for a tiring Laney as the clock ticked towards injury time, and he won the game in stunning style. Stuart Lake played an accurate ball up to Knight, who laid the ball off to Muir on the right side of the area. The substitute curled the ball with the outside of his foot to roll it into the bottom left corner of the net and seal his side the three points.
Wingate & Finchley Lineup:
Smith, Goodman, Street, Lake, Weatherstone, Rifat, Knight (Wright 90), Tejan-Sie, Laney (Muir 89), McCluskey, Oliyide (Sogbanmu 81). Subs: Suddell, Nielsen.