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Wingate & Finchley welcomed title-chasing East Thurrock United as they looked to secure a top half finish, but were undone in the space of five second-half minutes, writes Khalid Karimullah.

Ryman League Premier Division:
Wingate & Finchley 1 East Thurrock United 3
Saturday, 2 April, 2016

RESULTS & FIXTURES:
TABLE:

The first chance of the opening minutes arrived for the hosts. Billy Healey played a delightful pass out to Karl Oliyide who drifted past Sammy Knott, though as he looked to return the favour to the former, his cross was cut out by Ben Wood. Leon Fisher and Joe Foley then combined out on the left, prior to the latter finding Tommy Cummings who fired inches over from inside the area.

Good reading of the play then allowed Marc Weatherstone to clear the danger, as he saw George Craddock’s attempted short pass come to Joe Ellul, before blocking his near post effort. Tom Wraight then broke away down the left, though as he attempted to look for the far corner, Mark Goodman who tracked the play-maker all the way made a vital block.

With 31 minutes played, Karl Oliyide did well to find Fisher who drifted into the area, as his following effort found the bottom corner to give the Blues a deserved lead. A hopeful pass into the box from Ben Marlow, followed by a mix-up in the home defence allowed Higgins to get a vital touch on the ball, though he could only place his attempt wide. Despite leading, the Blues just couldn’t find a second. Cummings’ carbon-copy chance from inside the area going inches over the upright. On the stroke of half-time, the visitors equalised, a near post delivery from Joe Ellul found Sam Higgins, whose flick-on crept into the far corner of the net.

With the game starting to open up, East Thurrock began to display why they’re in a lofty position. Brandon Scott played a one-two with James Walker inside the area, though Foley did well to track the former before making a vital clearance. Higgins did well again to break away on the right, though his attempted effort looking for the far corner was met by an equally good save from Charlie Crowley. Scott followed his previous dangerous interplay with another, as Marc Weatherstone had to block a ferocious close-range hit from James Walker.

The visitors then found themselves leading after 65 minutes. Wraight went down inside the area before Higgins stepped up making no mistake from the spot – Crowley though could count himself as unfortunate after getting a touch on the ball. Just five minutes later, a defensive mix-up at the back saw the resulting attempted clearance hit off Wraight from two yards – to the fortune of the travelling fans.

With Keith Rowlands’ side looking for a way back into the game, Alex Addai broke away on the right before finding Fisher, whose flick-on gave Ahmet Rifat a chance to drive an effort towards goal with Ben Wood making a vital clearance. Kye Ruel, at the other end, broke through two challenges inside the area before seeing his effort go over the bar.

With the game coming to a close, Weatherstone again stayed big inside the area as he had to meet Higgins’ effort from close-range to ensure a fourth goal wasn’t added.

Despite the set-back, the Blues can attempt to get back to winning ways with a trip to Harrow Borough next Saturday.

Line-ups:
Wingate & Finchley:
Charlie Crowley, Mark Goodman, Joe Foley, Ahmet Rifat, Marc Weatherstone, Jake Hutchings, Alex Addai, Tommy Cummings (Karl Stevenson 84), Billy Healey (Jack Read 79), Leon Fisher, Karl Oliyide
Subs not used: Jack Read, Karl Stevenson, Rob Laney

East Thurrock:
Lukas Lidakevicius, Kris Newby, Sammy Knott, Joe Ellul, Rickie Hayles, Ben Wood, Ben Marlow (Brandon Scott 46), George Craddock, Sam Higgins, James Walker (Kye Ruel 66), Tom Wraight
Subs not used: Kye Ruel, Daryl Robson, Brandon Scott, Conor Hogan, Ryan Sammons

Referee:
Gareth Viccars

Attendance:
149

WingateTV: Charlie Crowley post East Thurrock United:
https://youtu.be/ehfGbk7gbBw