WINGATEWEBWingate & Finchley having only picked up one point from their last three games now find themselves sucked into the relegation dogfight in The Premier Division, writes Peter Rebak.

Ryman Premier League
Wingate & Finchley 0 AFC Hornchurch 3
Saturday, 30 March, 2014

**UPDATED TABLE**

With seven matches to go Wingate probably need to pick up nine points to ensure safety and with a key game looming against fellow strugglers Enfield on Easter Saturday.

The playing surface was perfect and on a warm Spring day Hornchurch were welcomed to The Abrahams Stadium. Hornchurch relegated last season from The Conference are hoping to bounce back at the first attempt and at the moment look almost certain to secure one of the play off places. A strong side who defeated Wingate & Finchley 3-0 in the return fixture this season. Danny Nielsen made a few changes after two lacklustre performances and brought in two new signings Dave Keanlyside on the right side of midfield and Darren Locke at centre back.

From the kick-off Hornchurch seemed to have the momentum and in the opening 15 minutes dominated the play without penetrating the home defence. Bobby Smith was not really troubled in The Wingate goal but the pressure of constant defending was soon to tell when a free-kick from a full 30 yards out was expertly bent around the wall by George Purcell,Bobby Smith in the Wingate goal could only stand and watch as the ball crept inside his left hand post.

This goal sparked Wingate into life and Ahmet Rifat soon had an excellent strike that was just cleared off the line by The Hornchurch defender and both he and Tommy Tejan-Sie were giving the visitors problems on their right flank. In the 45th minute came the most controversial moment of the game when Craig Davies converted a Tejan-Sie cross only to see the linesman’s flag ruling the goal out for offside. Most of the spectators and Hornchurch players thought that Davies was not offside. As they say: “goals change games” and this decision rocked the Wingate fightback.

The second half saw Hornchurch get the upper hand and in the 53rd minute Purcell got his second with another rasping strike and the game was all but over. Wingate fought well but against a stronger side did not look likely to overturn a two-goal deficit. Wingate pushed forward with Spencer McCall making a positive impact after he had come on at half-time. However, the inevitable happened when a free-kick from just outside the box was well converted by Tamebeson Eyong with a close-range header.

In the end a comfortable victory for The Essex team and Wingate now look forward to a tough home game on Tuesday against Margate.

Coach Daniel Nielsen said: “I felt the first half was extremely tight and scrappy, but we were unlucky to come in 1-0 down with Craig Davies’ goal incorrectly disallowed for offside. In the second half we were punished by some clinical finishing. We looked a bit jaded and perhaps the two long away trips to Cray and Lowestoft last week took their toll. We now look forward to the visit of Margate on Tuesday and the chance to bounce back with a positive result and performance.”

Wingate & Finchley FC
Bobby Smith – Bobby Aisien – Kieron Street – Dean Smith (Spencer McCall 45) – Marc Weatherstone © – Darren Locke – David Keenleyside (Joe Sharpe 84) – Ola Sogbanmu – Craig Davies (Josh Kennet 63) – Ahmet Rifat – Tommy Tejan-Sie Subs not used: – Adam Bolle – Daniel McGonigle

**UPDATED TABLE**