High-flying Wingate & Finchley travelled to Fetcham Grove, and played out an intriguing goalless draw with a Leatherhead side who had failed to win in their previous five fixtures, writes Khalid Karimullah.
After a tight opening, Leatherhead had the first chance of the game after Vas Karagiannis floated in a deep cross to the far post which was controlled by Stacy Long, who cut inside before getting his shot away, but Leon Solomon intelligently covered well and headed the danger clear.
Wingate attempted to force the issue after Rob Laney won possession halfway inside the hosts half, he exchanged passes with Karl Oliyide, before the former was played in on goal but Louis wells came out to close him down before he could get a shot away. Oliyide then turned away from Matt Smart and Adam Green on the left flank before cutting inside, however with Wingate attempting to construct an opening with a flow of nice intricate passing, Leatherhead remained hard to break down.
After 20 minutes played, Tommy Tejan-Sie found himself with more space and lobbed a stunning ball over the defence to Laney, who controlled brilliantly and side footed the ball into the back of the net with the on rushing Wells beaten, but the linesman had his flag raised for offside. Moments later, Tejan-Sie found Martel Powell on the edge of the box, who looked for the top corner but his curling effort went just wide of Wells left hand post.
At the other end, Phil Walsh played a sublime pass in between Mark Goodman and Brad Hewitt for the pacey Karagiannis to run onto, before the forward opened up his body and attempted to curl his effort past Bobby Smith, but Hewitt made a tremendous tackle to deny the forward. Straight from the resulting clearance, Laney then slid a pass into Oliyide who got away from Joe Bruce, before the defender made a good recovering challenge, though the loose ball fell to Billy Healey who forced Wells into making a great close range save; thereafter, the ball inadvertently hit Dean Pooley and then the post before the danger was eventually cleared.
With half-time approaching, Kiernan Hughes-Mason got behind the defence before forcing a good save from Smith, who got down low to his right, before the ball came back out to Karagiannis who attempted to place the ball into an empty net, but Kyle Watson remained concentrated and cleared the danger.
The second half began very much like the first, with chances coming at either end. Long hit an 18 yard effort which deflected off of Hewitt, before falling at the feet of Hughes-Mason who attempted a back flick which was gathered by Smith. Wingate then had a superb chance to go in front, it came after Tejan-Sie drifted away from Pooley, before he floated in a phenomenal ball across the six yard box which found an unmarked Oliyide, who uncharacteristically and unfortunately could only hit his attempt over the bar, with the goal gaping.
With the game opening up more, Karagiannis hit an effort from just outside the box which Smith did well to get down low to his right, before minutes later, Hughes-Mason got away on the left flank before cutting inside and attempting to beat Smith from close range, but the keeper made a tremendous save with his feet. The Blues came close themselves with a close range effort after substitute Reece Tison-Lascaris played Tejan-Sie through, before the latter cut inside of Pooley and attempted to curl the ball past Wells, who remained tough to beat and denied the diminutive midfielder.
With the game drawing to an end, Paul Walsh went inches from giving the Tanners a lead with a near post header, before Wingate at the other end then almost took all three points back to North London. After Powell played a penetrating pass into Tison-Lascaris, he forced Wells to make a reaction save, before from the resulting corner and last significant action of the game, Healey rose highest and looked for the far corner, but Daniel Burnett-Williams headed the ball off the line. The sense from the squad afterwards was that it was two points dropped, rather than a point gained.
Louis Wells, Dean Pooley (Daniel Burnett-Williamsn 82), Adam Green (Ryan Mahal 51), Matt Smart, Joe Bruce, Jerry Nnamani, Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Josh Gallagher, Phil Walsh, Stacy Long (Richard Avery 67), Vas Karagiannis
Subs not used:
Daniel Burnett-Williams, Richard Avery, Ryan Mahal, Jordan Gallagher, Jake Nimmo
Wingate & Finchley:
Bobby Smith, Mark Goodman, Kyle Watson, Leon Solomon, Brad Hewitt (Ahmet Rifat 69), Marc Weatherstone, Martel Powell, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Billy Healey, Karl Oliyide (Ola Sogbanmu 80), Rob Laney (Reece Tison-Lascaris 59)
Subs not used:
Ola Sogbanmu, Ahmet Rifat, Karl Stevenson, Reece Tison-Lascaris, Jack Metcalfe
Post-match interviews with Mark Goodman and Bobby Smith: