Wingate and Finchley remain winless three games in to new manager Keith Rowland’s tenure, following a 3-2 home loss to Ryman Division North outfit Redbridge FC in the London Senior Cup, writes Andy Gerlis.
This was Wingate’s first, and arguably best, chance to reach a semi-final. Their League Cup quarter-final match against Enfield Town is postponed until February and this fixture came against a Redbridge side 37 places below them, rooted to the bottom of their table.
But it was the underdogs who seized the advantage. First half goals from Reside Coxi-Sebastfao, Jay Knight and Joe Gent ensured that, despite a late fightback from Wingate, it would be the Motormen hosting either Hendon or Croydon in the next round.
The result means Wingate are yet to see victory under Rowland, but nonetheless their search remains spread over three competitions.
The Blues started the game brightly, new signing Alex Addai popping a shot over the bar before firing in a cross that allowed Alfie Bartram to do precisely the same thing. But warning signs were there for the home side and, had Billy Drake connected with Gent’s cross fully, they could have been behind in the first ten minutes.
As it was, Redbridge only needed 22 minutes to take the lead. A neat one-two between strikers Knight and Coxi-Sebastfao afforded the latter enough space on the edge of the box to drill a shot into the bottom of Jack Metcalfe’s net. And the former doubled the visitors’ lead just 15 minutes later, latching on to a through ball before placing his shot past the goalkeeper.
But barely a minute had passed before Gent made it 3-0, another through ball catching Wingate’s defence unawares and allowing the winger to round Metcalfe before tapping into an empty net. Stunned, the Blues were unable to find a reply and went into the break requiring an impressive second half, though this failed to materialise.
Early free-kicks from Wingate’s Joe Sharpe and Redbridge’s Paulus Ditkevicius came to nothing, while a cross from Alfie Bartram would have floated in but for the fingertips of goalkeeper Callum Chafer.
With the visitors comfortable in defence, happy for Wingate to dominate possession, it wasn’t until the last ten minutes that the match kicked in to life again. The introduction of Rob Laney and Billy Healey bolstered Wingate’s attack, shown by their involvement in both goals.
Laney picked up a deflected 82nd minute free-kick on the edge of the box, shielding the ball well before drilling a cross that allowed Tarik Moore-Azille to tap home his first goal in Wingate colours.
And just three minutes later Healey collected a Marc Weatherstone header inside the six-yard box and rifled a shot into the bottom corner.
With penalties within touching distance, Ahmet Rifat saw his long-range effort parried away by Chafer, before Laney’s injury-time shot was deflected inches over the bar.
Too little, too late for the home side however, and Rowland’s men will head to Grays Athletic on Saturday still searching for their first win of 2016.
Wingate and Finchley:
Metcalfe (GK), Watherstone (C), Watson, Sharpe, Moore-Azille, Rifat, Addai, Sogbanmu (Tejan-Sie, 58’), Read (Laney, 66’), Oliyide (Healey, 66’), Bartram
Unused Subs: Brown, Goodman
WingateTV interview with Tarik Moore-Azille: https://youtu.be/CyGkUnpY52o