Wingate & Finchley’s saw their play-off hopes dealt a damaging blow as they fell to a controversial 3-2 defeat at Grays Athletic.
Ryman League Premier Division:
Grays Athletic 3 Wingate & Finchley 2
Wednesday, 1 April, 2015
The Blues fielded the same XI that had convincingly beaten Dulwich Hamlet on the weekend, and started brightly as the opening quarter of an hour was largely dominated by the visitors, who created a few good openings. Ahmet Rifat played a chipped ball deep on the left wing to David Knight, and he crossed to Jack Read at the far post. However his effort which bobbled off the uneven surface was flicked over the bar by a covering defender.
Knight went close for Wingate & Finchley again as he fired a distant free-kick on target. The vicious swerve almost beat a shocked goalkeeper but an outstretched arm just kept the ball out. It was to prove a crucial save as the hosts took the lead with their first foray out of their half in the 18th minute – Joao Carlos broke down the left wing, cut inside and fired across goal to score against the run of play.
James Stevens then doubled the score from the spot a few minutes later, however this was the moment that changed the course of the match. All players and spectators inside the ground were left baffled as the referee pointed to the spot for an apparent foul by Bobby Smith, depsite no appeal being made by Grays.
Wingate were left fuming at this decision, and Grays began to turn the screw. They failed to add a third however, and it was the visitors who clawed life back into the game on the stroke of half-time. Marc Weatherstone received a lofted pass in the area and sent a square ball across goal. The cross slightly beat Karl Oliyide but Knight was on hand to tap home.
Wingate completely dominated the start of the second half, just like first. Stuart Lake fired narrowly over with a left-footed strike, and Read similarly fired over with a few efforts from the edge of the area. The keeper was left untested though which was disappointing given the amount of heavy pressure the Grays defence was under. However, Grays again hit Wingate on the counter. Carlos scored on a break from the halfway line despite heavy suspicions of offside, and rounded Smith with ease.
Deep into injury time the Grays goalkeeper bundled over Rifat in the box to give the visitors a consolation penalty, which Knight scored for his 30th goal of the season.
Wingate & Finchley Line-up:
Smith, Weatherstone, Joao, Lake, Hewitt, Rifat, Knight 2, Tejan-Sie, Read (Goodman 75), Georgiou (Suddell 80), Oliyide. Subs: King, Stevenson, Sharpe