With fixture congestion forcing Wingate to face Farnborough FC home and away on consecutive Saturdays, Boro were seeking revenge after coming out second-best in a seven-goal thriller last weekend, writes Andy Gerlis.
With Farnborough’s season disrupted due to financial problems off the pitch, Wingate could be forgiven for feeling they were there for the taking again, but Boro are a resilient side fighting their way out of the relegation zone and would not roll over so easily.
Dreadful conditions meant the ball rolled awkwardly on a slick pitch and Wingate exploited this early on with a couple of low through-balls to Lee Barney five minutes in catching Boro’s defence unawares. Losing his footing and sending the ball wide at the first attempt, his second bite of the cherry was met by a strong Aaron Bufton hand and, though the ball skidded out of his grasp, the debutant keeper threw himself at Barney’s feet to prevent Wingate from taking an early lead.
The Blues’ pressure failed to ease up and only the soggy pitch prevented Karl Oliyide from being able to set himself before planting a looping shot over the bar, while midfielder Dan Brown did well to control and juggle a ball in the box 19 minutes in but could only poke his tame shot at straight at Bufton. A poor clearance from Lewis Collins allowed Barney a shot at goal seconds later, but again the striker lost his footing at the pivotal moment.
Farnborough began to grow into the game and it turned into a more even affair. Both Freddie Grant and Nicholas Brown flashed passes across Jack Metcalfe’s goal with nobody able to meet them, before a sensational reflex save by Bufton at the other end stopped Oliyide’s close-range flick from going in. The Blues did have the ball in the net first, however, but Barney was adjudged to have been offside when Oliyide found him with a vicious, curling ball in behind the Boro defence 10 minutes from the break.
Unfortunately, teams usually tend to rue missed chances and when an innocuous long free-kick lifted high into the Wingate box was blown on to the face of Tom Broadbent, Metcalfe and his defence were wrong footed as the ball dropped in to the goal 38 minutes in. Despite dominating for large parts of the half, The Blues found themselves heading down the tunnel a goal behind.
Much like last week, the second half got off to a slow start after a frantic first and it took 20 minutes before a controversial decision to award a free-kick and yellow card against Bufton when he brought down Barney on the edge of the area got the crowd worked up. Though nothing came of the set-piece, the visitors ramped up the pressure and it didn’t take long to pay off. Rob Laney found space down the wing after a quick throw-in and he laid a pass on a plate to allow Oliyide an easy tap-in to pull the Blues level with 18 minutes left on the clock.
With Wingate pressing high up the pitch a long, wind-assisted clearance fell to Bogdan Vastsuk 30 yards out from goal. Riding tackles from Ahmet Rifat and Marc Weatherstone he eventually found enough space inside the box to drill a shot past Metcalfe and give the hosts the lead just six minutes later. Wingate appeared to have used up all their chances and though Bartram saw a couple of tight shots blocked by Bufton late on, Boro held their lead until the final whistle.
But for an almost impeccable goalkeeping display on his first game for the club from Adam Bufton and some torrid weather conditions, the result could have been very different on the day. As it is, Wingate will have to make sure they take their chances next time they step out on to the pitch this Tuesday at home against Leiston.
Wingate and Finchley: Metcalfe (GK), Goodman, Solomon, Brown, Rifat, Weatherstone (C), Laney (Hewitt 89’), Tejan-Sie, Barney, Tison-Lascaris (Bartram 68’), Oliyide
Subs not used: Sharpe, Stevenson, Hewitt, Bartram
Farnborough FC: Bufton, Siaw, Broadbent, Fearn, MacDonald, Ryan, Grant, Collins, Vastsuk (Francis 84’), Moody (Barton 84’), Brown (Zidyana 73’)
Subs not used: Francis, Barton, Dua, Zidyana, Tupper
WingateTV interview with Simon Lane: