Wingate & Finchley spurned the chance to finish the weekend joint-top of the table after were defeated by VCD Athletic at the Oakwood Stadium, writes Khalid Karimullah.
The visitors came out the blocks flying with good interplay of passing between Billy Healey, Lee Barney and Leon Solomon which gave the latter a chance to burst into the box, though his attempted cross was blocked. From the resulting set-piece, Solomon’s quick taken corner allowed him to exchange passes with Barney, before the former’s cross came to Rob Laney who towered over Joseph Bruce at the near post, prior to powering the ball past the helpless Max Huxter after six minutes.
The Blues were hungry for more goals and after Barney was played away down the left flank, his cross into the box just evaded Laney charging in, which gave Alfie Bartram a chance from six yards though his shot was blocked. However, the ball was only half cleared falling kindly to Healey, who’s shot beat the keeper but ricocheted back off the post. Minutes later, Solomon, Tommy Tejan-Sie and Dan Brown exchanged passes before the midfield trio found Laney away on the left, though his shot-cum-cross was tipped away by Huxter with Healey unable to get a proper connection with his header on the follow up.
It took 18 minutes for the hosts to have their first chance at goal, with Donovan Simmonds controlling the ball on the edge of the box before zipping a shot past Bobby Smith’s left hand post. With VCD gaining some momentum, Nigel Neita drilled a similar effort wide from 18 yards, before Smith had to be on full alert to tip Aaron Wickham’s shot-cum-cross over the bar as he attempted to find Simmonds at the back post.
With Wingate’s defence causing the hosts to shoot from distance, the Blues had added impetus to push for a second goal. Mark Goodman’s low cross found Laney, though with the striker being marked tight by Ricardo Joseph, his deflected shot was cleared only as far as Healey who could only hit his effort over the bar. Following that was a great double save from Huxter. First Bartram’s cutting pass gave Barney an opportunity to open up his body to get his shot away which was saved by the feet of the keeper, before Healey’s half-volley into the ground from the rebound was tipped over athletically.
Another quick passing move between Laney, Tejan-Sie, Bartram and Barney allowed the latter to find Brown on the edge of the box, however he could only power his strike high and wide. Smith was then tested both athletically and mentally moments later. After former Blue Richie Graham’s deep cross to the far post found Bruce, the centre-halve directed his header back across the keeper looking for the top corner, though Smith did well with a diving save to his right. Just before half time, Tejan-Sie crafted out another chance as his whipped in cross from inside left channel found the head of Healey, who could only glance his header wide from close-range.
Straight after the restart, Barney played the ball around Bruce giving Healey a chance at goal, and he almost took full advantage as his shot again bounced back off the woodwork, before he had another chance at goal from the rebound, though Huxter just managed to get a finger tip to his follow up. The former himself had a chance at goal after getting away from the VCD defence, but hit his effort went over the frame of the goal.
With the game becoming bogged down in midfield, Brown suddenly had a zipping shot from a full 30 yards which smacked back off the cross bar and away from danger, before the home side found themselves level with just under an hour played. A hopeful pass into the path of the on rushing Simmonds allowed the forward to slide in before Goodman could intercept the ball.
Despite the frustration in how the goal was conceded, the Blues then had three glorious chances to retake the lead. First Solomon bombarded up the left flank before his deep cross to the back post found the head of Laney, who forced a reaction save from Huxter. Then Goodman powered into space 25 yards from goal prior to unleashing his shot which fell kindly to Barney, though with just the keeper to beat, he could only hit his first time scissor kick inches wide. The right back was involved again after he found Laney inside the box, who shot across the keeper/
To the away fans’ dismay, a defence cutting pass by Wickham gave Simmonds a one-on-one chance with Smith, though as he slipped the keeper’s best efforts to win the ball, Goodman had an unfortunate tangle of legs with the forward inside the area and was consequently sent off. From the resulting spot kick, Lheureux Menga sent Smith the wrong way before powering his penalty into the net to give the hosts a shocked lead.
The game filtered out afterwards despite the perseverance of 10-man Wingate, and as the referee blew his final whistle, even the home crowd could not believe how the visitors came away with nothing to show for their performance.
Max Huxter, Frantz Tchonang, Ashley Probets, Richard Avery, Joseph Bruce, Ricardo Joseph, Richie Graham (Davidson Tejaiye 70), Aaron Wickham, Nigel Neita, Donovan Simmonds (Levander Pyke 87), Mathias Bakare (Lheureux Menga 52)
Subs not used:
Kojo Awotwi, Mark Nwokeji, Lheureux Menga, Davidson Tejaiye, Levander Pyke
Wingate & Finchley:
Bobby Smith, Mark Goodman, Leon Solomon, Daniel Brown, Marc Weatherstone, Tarik Moore-Azille, Rob Laney, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Billy Healey, Alfie Bartram (Courtney Austin 89), Lee Barney (Karl Oliyide 73)
Subs not used:
Martel Powell, Karl Oliyide, Joe Sharpe, Courtney Austin, Kyle Watson