Wingate and Finchley were left to rue missed chances after suffering a setback in their hopes for a playoff place with a 1-0 loss at home to Billericay Town, writes Khalid Karimullah.
Ryman League Premier Division:
Wingate & Finchley 0 Billericay Town 1
Saturday, 14 March, 2015
Before the game kicked off, a special minutes silence was held to honour the life of lifelong Wingate and Finchley supporter Maurice Needleman who despite the result, would have been proud of his side.
Wingate started the brightest and had the first attempt at goal after David Knight found Rob Laney in space centre of goal, whose 18-yard drive was well held by Joe Wright. Moments later at the other end, the away side felt they should have had a penalty after former Blue Ola Williams’ cross from the right channel found Afolabi Obafemi, who fell to the ground after little contact from Ahmet Rifat, but the referee waved it away.
The Blues pressure almost paid dividends after David Knight’s defence-splitting pass put Laney through on goal with a one-on-one chance, but despite taking the ball round the keeper on the first attempt, Wright recovered well and managed to block his shot out for a corner. Brad Hewitt then had his floating header well saved by Wright who had players around him.
The visitors almost went ahead against the run of play after Harry Baker found himself with time to shoot, hitting a low powerful effort from just outside the box. Bobby Smith was equal to the first attempt but couldn’t hold on to it, and that gave Obafemi a chance to pounce onto the loose ball but Smith again made the block and gathered the ball safely into his hands.
The highly impressive Tommy Tejan-Sie at the other end beat his defender, Teddy Nesbitt, near Billericay’s corner flag, before cutting the ball back to Knight, whose deft touch gave Ola Sogbanmu a chance at goal from six yards, but his attempt was well blocked by a pressurised defence. The ball was only half cleared and Knight from Wingate’s right channel hit a fierce drive towards the near corner of the goal, forcing Wright to make a good save getting down low at full stretch to his left.
The second half started similarly to the first. Wingate constructed lovely passes of intricate play down their left channel with Marc Weatherstone, Karl Oliyide, Sogbanmu, and Laney combining before the latter passed back to Oliyide, who despite lifting the ball over his defender just couldn’t get a shot on target after Wright came out to gather the ball. Laney himself had another chance after Tejan-Sie’s through ball past the defence gave the forward an attempt at goal, but he could only hit his shot straight into the keeper’s hands.
Billericay Town started to get a hold on the game, and went inches wide after Obafemi led a counter-attack and played the ball into the feet of Ricky Sappleton, who held it well and gave it back to his strike partner whose dipping shot couldn’t find its way into the bottom corner with Smith at full stretch.
The only goal of the game came on the 85th minute after Wingate captain Weatherstone, filling in at left-back brought down Williams inside the area. Richard Halle stepped up to take the penalty and hit his kick low and with intent down to Smith’s left, with the keeper agonisingly close from getting a hand to it.
Forward Rob Laney said: “I think we dominated most of the game and definitely deserved something out of it. Our defence was on form today, we soaked up everything they threw at us. I can’t remember Bobby (Smith) having to make many saves but we could have been better in the final third. Ola (Sogbanmu) was on fire, Stuart Lake did a good job and Tommy (Tejan-Sie) was phenomenal. I think he did well to finish the game considering the amount they were hacking him down.”
Bobby Smith, Goodman, Weatherstone, Lake, Hewitt, Rifat, Knight, Tejan-Sie, Laney, Sogbanmu, Oliyide (Suddell 84). Subs: Sharpe, Read, Karl Stevenson, Nielsen.