Wingate & Finchley kept up their perfect start to the season as they produced a solid away performance at Needham Market FC, writes Khalid Karimullah.
Both sides struggled to get a foothold on the game, before the home side produced what was their first and most dangerous attack of the first half. It came after Darryl Coakley and Oliver Fenn exchanged passes, before the latter played in Sam Newson who beat his defender, but couldn’t beat Metcalfe with the keeper down low to deny the forward getting an effort on target. Minutes later, after Fenn gained possession in the final third, he found the feet of Newson who forced the towering Brad Hewitt to be on fall alert, as he made a definitive block to deny the strikers curling effort.
Despite the hosts’ start, it was Wingate who took the lead after 11 minutes. The brilliant Leon Soloman played a phenomenal cross field pass into the dynamic Martel Powell, who after a great first touch played in Billy Healey who from the edge of the box, hit a diagonal shot across the diving Shaun Phillips in goal. Needham looked to respond almost immediately, after Regan Pelling had a driving shot from the edge of the box which Hewitt again remained composed and saw the danger clear.
Wingate took control of the game afterwards and after Tommy Tejan-Sie played the ball into the feet of Healey, he laid it into the path of Karl Oliyide who from 18 yards, could only hit his shot wide of the goal. Marc Weatherstone then played an intelligent pass over the defence to Oliyide, who after bringing the ball down skilled his way past Joe Whight, before finding the feet of Healey who hit his shot wide on the turn. The Blues doubled their lead on 21 minutes after Tejan-Sie cut open the home side’s defence with a dangerous ball out wide to Soloman, who made a bombarding run down the left channel before placing a low and accurate cross into the path of the on rushing Oliyide, who tapped the ball into the back of the net.
Simon Lane’s side looked in full control and came close to furthering their lead, after Solomon hit a 30-yard curling effort which was dipping towards the bottom left of Phillips goal, but the keeper remained calm and held the ball. Wingate appeared to have got their third; after Tejan-Sie delivered a precise free kick into a crowded penalty area, Ahmet Rifat showed the most determination and headed the ball down into the path of Weatherstone, who smashed the ball into the back of the net, but his effort was ruled out by the linesman who deemed that there was a foul in the build up to the goal.
Moments later on 34 minutes, the home side got into the game after some unfortunate circumstances. From a corner, Metcalfe who had so far been commanding in goal, came to gather the ball in a packed six yard box but the wet conditions caused it to slip out of his grasp and land at the feet of Samuel Nunn, who took full advantage to stab home from a yard out. The away side didn’t falter, as after Oliyide was clattered down, the ball fell kindly to Michael Buckley who from 20 yards curled his effort wide of the post. Not long after, Powell constructed space for himself down the right channel, before playing a brilliant ball across the face of goal, but no one was on hand for what would have been an easy tap in.
After half-time, Wingate shocked the home supporters after restoring their two-goal advantage immediately on 47 minutes. After Oliyide was challenged as he drove towards the box, the ball came back out to Tejan-Sie who had been left unmarked at the edge of the box, and from 18 yards drove a splendid half volley into the far corner, with the keeper at full stretch diving to his left. The away side looking hungry for more goals, almost found their fourth after Oliyide interchanged passes with Laney, before the midfielder dragged his shot wide.
With the game drawing to a close, Buckley was ruled to have made a harsh challenge on Daniel Smith, and consequently picked up his second yellow card of the game, which left Wingate to play the last eight minutes with ten men; conceivably though, Wingate should have still had a full contingent on the pitch. Although the Blues stayed compact and the closest the hosts came to their second of the game, was a dangerous free kick from substitute Karl Duguid, which Metcalfe saw go comfortably wide.
It was a great performance from the team who now play Staines at home on Saturday.
WingateTV Video interviews with Martel Powell and Brad Hewitt: