A superb game of attacking football was played between Margate and Wingate & Finchley on a chilly afternoon at Hartsdown Park, as both teams showed their intent on pushing for a play-off position despite a goalless end to the game, writes Khalid Karimullah.
Ryman League Premier Division:
Margate 0 Wingate & Finchley 0
Saturday, 21 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.
It took just two minutes before the first real chance of the game was created, and it came from the away side. Karl Oliyide, David Knight, and Harrison Georgiou combined with lovely intricate passing down Wingate’s left channel, before the latter squared the ball to Tommy Tejan-Sie centre of goal but his powerful shot was blocked. At the other end, Tom Phipp with a precision cross in to the box found Freddie Ladapo who hit his half volley high and over from six yards after a good chested control and turn.
Bobby Smith was then forced into making a save down low to his left after Lewis Taylor’s cross field ball into the box came to Phipp, who hit his effort towards the bottom corner despite failing to get any real power into his shot. Oliyide then tested Margate’s keeper Nikki Bull with a 25 yard dipping effort, hitting his shot low and hard towards the bottom corner, but the keeper was equal to his attempt getting down low to his left.
Wingate then went on a flurry of attacks looking for the opening goal, as first Marc Weatherstone combined with Tejan-Sie who found Georgiou in the box. He skilfully turned past his defender before almost picking out Laney for an easy tap in, but Margate’s defence managed to clear the ball away from the goal-line. Tejan-Sie himself then got past Sam Rents before his effort was blocked, but the danger was not cleared and Sogbanmu, then Georgiou, both had their efforts blocked from six yards by a defence which continued to stand firm.
After half-time, the outstanding Ahmet Rifat put Robert Laney through on goal down Wingate’s left wing who outpaced his defender, but his attempt to pick out Knight was blocked with the ball deflecting inches past the post, before Phipp’s 25 yard curling effort went just wide of the goal with Smith down low to his right. Margate almost went ahead after Phipp, who caused Wingate’s defence problems, hit the post from 15 yards with a low hard effort, before moments later, Smith denied Kane Wills who hit a half volleyed attempt towards Wingate’s goal.
The energetic Taylor then picked out Ryan Moss, who beat his defender before attempting to place the ball past Smith into the far opposite corner, but the ball went just wide. Despite the hosts’ constant pressure, Wingate almost took the lead after Georgiou worked his way past Margate’s defence. With just the keeper to beat, the midfielder hit a powerful drive back across goal, but Bull was there again to produce an excellent close-range save.
With the game entering it’s final minutes, Bobby Smith made sure that a goal eluded Margate by producing two incredible close range saves. The first came after the ball found it’s way to the feet of Substitute Zac Attwood, who turned and hit an instinctive shot towards the top of the goal frame but Smith acrobatically palmed the ball over the bar. Then with the last action of the game, Rents cross from the left came to Luke Moore, who chipped the ball up into the air towards the backpost finding Moss who must have thought he scored, but the keeper, in fine form all game, made an astonishing finger tip save.
Wingate captain Mark Weatherstone said: “It was a very good game between two good teams looking for promotion. Overall, I think it was probably a fair result. We dominated the first half and they had the better of the chances in the second. We’re a confident unit at the minute and we keep growing in confidence every game. Not many teams come here and get a result, we’re happy with a clean sheet and a point gained.” On Bobby Smith’s heroics at the end, he said: “He does it week in week out, he’s a class keeper and it’s no surprise to me.”
Bobby Smith, Marc Weatherstone (c), Orlando Joao, Ola Sogbanmu, Brad Hewitt, Ahmet Rifat, David Knight, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Rob Laney, Harrison Georgiou (Jack Read 81), Karl Oliyide, Karl Stevenson, Jack Read, Joe Sharpe, Gavin Suddell, Jack Metcalfe