Wingate & Finchley let slip a three-goal lead at the Longmead Stadium as they lost a seven-goal thriller, writes Khalid Karimullah.
Ryman League Premier Division:
Tonbridge Angels 4 Wingate & Finchley 3
Saturday, 12 March, 2016
Despite the hosts’ lofty position, it was the visitors who started the brightest after Mark Goodman played a pass down the right flank to Billy Healey, whose ball into the box just evaded Alfie Bartram making a telling run. A breakaway for Tonbridge then saw Luke Blewden played in on goal, though Ahmet Rifat was in the right place to deny the forward.
Blewden caused more trouble for the north London outfit after creating space for himself on the edge of the area, though his following effort was denied by Chris Haigh. Alex Addai was then afforded plenty of room, though despite making a powerful run, his effort after cutting inside went well wide.
With Wingate still mounting plenty of pressure, Bartram drifted into space before playing a cutting pass through to Rob Laney, though Jerrome Sobers was in the right place to clear the danger. On 16 minutes, the first goal deservedly arrived. Healey held up possession well before playing a lovely pass into the path of Addai, who arrowed his strike into the far corner of the net. Minutes later, Laney combined with Healey, prior to breaking away on goal for a one-on-one chance, as the forward forced a great save from Anthony Di Bernardo.
With the hosts playing hopeful passes up to Blewden, Rifat remained solid clearing away every Tonbridge opportunity. With just under half an hour, it was 2-0, with Addai returning the favour to Healey. Finding himself with space on the right, the former played a pass into the forward who took his time before coolly placing his effort into the net.
With a rare attack, Tonbridge’s Jack Parter made his way to the byline before seeing his dangerous low cross cut out by the hard working Bartram. Just before half-time, with Wingate in a confident mood, Laney played a pass into Healey who let fly from near 25 yards, though his effort went wide. One disappointment for the visitors was Ola Sogbanmu being forced off with an injury, as a change of shape, which had stifled the hosts up until then, had to be made.
Despite the positive start from the Angels looking for a way back into the game, a hopeful clearance by Goodman arrived at Healey, who scored a brilliant third for his second of the afternoon after lobbing Di Bernardo. In a spell of 14 minutes, the game suddenly changed on its head. After a long throw-in by Blewden, the ball arrived at the head of Sobers who guided his header into the corner to the frustration of Haigh, after 54 minutes.
Soon after, Tommy Whitnell’s deft touch arrived at mid-height for Blewden, who on the turn placed his half-volley inches wide of Haigh’s right hand post. As Wingate attempted to recreate their dominance as displayed in the first 50 minutes, Addai’s dangerous cross into the box forced a clearance at the near post from Di Bernardo, with Healey waiting to pounce.
Minutes later, it was 2-3, and it was another set-piece which Wingate failed to deal with. An in-swinging corner arrived at the head of Sonny Miles, whose touch gave Sobers a chance to find the back of the net from close-range. With all the momentum fully in the way of the home side, a hopeful pass from Tom Parkinson after a scramble inside the box arrived at Nathan Elder, whose shot sent the crowd into jubilation.
With just under ten minutes to play, a save which was worthy of winning any game was on display by Haigh. From Blewden’s header which was creeping into the far corner of the goal, the shot-stopper acrobatically denied the forward with an astonishing finger tip save. However, unfortunately from the resulting corner, Nick Wheeler’s delivery arrived at Elder who powered his header past Haigh. With the Blues then pushing to level, Goodman’s precise pass looking for Karl Oliyide inside the area was just cleared away.
Despite the frustration, Rowland’s side has the chance to bounce back quickly, as they travel to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday evening.
Tonbridge Angels FC:
Anthony Di Bernardo, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Tom Parkinson, Jerrome Sobers, Sonny Miles, Bradley Wood-Garness (Tommy Whitnell 54), Anthony Riviere (Luke Allen 62), Nathan Elder, Luke Blewden, Nick Wheeler (Charlie Webster 84)
Charlie Webster, Tommy Whitnell, Luke Allen, Laurence Ball
Wingate & Finchley:
Chris Haigh, Mark Goodman, Tommy Cummings, Ahmet Rifat, Aron Pollock, Leon Fisher, Alex Addai (Karl Stevenson 73), Alfie Bartram, Billy Healey (Jack Read 86), Ola Sogbanmu (Karl Oliyide 45), Rob Laney
Karl Oliyide, Jack Read, Karl Stevenson
WingateTV interview with Alfie Bartram: