Wingate and Finchley secured the double over relegation-threatened AFC Hornchurch, as they claimed their second 1-0 win over them, this time at Blues’ bogey-ground.
Ryman League Premier Division:
AFC Hornchurch 0 Wingate & Finchley 1
Saturday, 10 January, 2015
The notoriously poor pitch and heavy wind usually spell bad news for Wingate, but they played Hornchurch at their own game to great effect. With a defensive spine of James Kaloczi and debutant Bradley Hewitt marshalled by Stuart Lake, they had strength and height to nullify the hosts’ aerial bombardment.
Both sides struggled in the first half as the defences dominated – the unpredictable bounce of the ball made constructive passing difficult.
Martin Tuohy lost his footing when he was about to shoot inside the box, and then headed over the bar as Hornchurch started brightly. Junior Luke then blazed wide as a dodgy bounce prevented him from shooting with a clean connection.
The Blues’ first chance came after half an hour when David Knight was set free down right wing and he crossed low. The ball found Scott Shulton at the far post and his low drive was parried away by the keeper.
One minute before the interval the breakthrough came. Rob Laney this time found space down the right side. He powered past his man Elliott Styles and was needlessly brought down in the box. Prolific striker Knight fired home from the spot with what proved to be the winning goal.
After the break the wind appeared to die down slightly to Wingate’s benefit. Knight received a low Tommy Tejan-Sie pass. He fired low on goal and the keeper Sam Mott blocked, and as the rebound fell to Laney the difficult bounce made him volley over.
At the other end George Purcell volleyed desperately from a cleared corner but the ball dribbled wide as Hornchurch began to lose hope.
Wingate continually found space down the right side and this time it was Laney who was set free down this wing. He cut inside and squared to Ola Sogbanmu in space, but he blazed over from eight yards with the goal gaping. Sogbanmu was later forced off with concussion after taking an elbow to the head.
Billy Coyne fired a free-kick wide from 25 yards, before Hornchurch had their only shot on target in the closing stages as Purcell drilled an effort from a wide angle which was comfortably saved by Bobby Smith.
Striker Rob Laney said afterwards: “I am delighted today with the win, and also with two clean sheets on the bounce now – the team is full of confidence and the dressing room is strong.
TJ [stand-in captain Tejan-Sie] led the team well in Weathers’ absence. The back four were as good as I’ve seen them all season. Ola was a hero in midfield, and it took him being taken to hospital for them to stop him!
It was crucial to win the penalty on that pitch and I am happy to set up Knighty any day. We still have the playoffs in our sights and this squad is aiming to be the most successful Wingate & Finchley team ever.”
Wingate & Finchley Lineup:
Smith, Goodman, Marsh-Brown, Lake, Kaloczi, Brad Hewitt, Knight, Tejan-Sie, Laney, Sogbanmu (Graham 80), Shulton. Subs, Wright, Read, Oliyide, Suddell.