Wingate & Finchley fell to a disappointing 1-3 home defeat against a well-drilled Metropolitan Police side at a breezy Harry Abrahams Stadium, , writes Khalid Karimullah.
It was the visitors who first showed their attacking intent from the off-set. Joe Turner cut inside from the left channel, before the midfielder drilled a low shot just wide of Bobby Smith’s right hand post. With the visitors having much of the ball but failing to create any clear cut chances, the hosts almost found themselves leading. With just a quarter of an hour played, Billy Healey curled a stunning 20 yard effort against the crossbar, however, the forward could feel aggrieved after the wind played a big part in taking it wide.
Dan Brown then won back possession in midfield before he played Healey away down the right, though Steve Sutherland was on hand to cut out the latter’s cross looking for Karl Oliyide. Then with just under half an hour played, Met Police grabbed themselves a deserved lead. Turner played Tom Hickey away down the right channel, prior to the midfielder’s accurate cross finding the head of Charlie Collins, who powered his header past Smith.
Moments later, after Simon Lane’s side were still appearing to recover, Turner almost took full advantage. Utilising former Blue Leon Smith as a decoy, the midfielder burst into the box before his drilled shot had to be cleared away by the foot of Tarik Moore-Azille. At the other end, Wingate were rewarded an in-direct free-kick inside the box, after referee Dean Appleby adjudged goalkeeper Craig King to have picked up a back pass. After a well worked set-piece, a frustrated Tommy Tejan-Sie could only drill his effort wide of the upright.
Moments later, the home fans were left frustrated after watching their side slip to a 2-0 goal deficit. From an in-swinging corner by Andre Dacosta, the towering Steve Sutherland rose the highest to place his header against the underside of the crossbar and over the line. Despite trailing, two excellent consecutive chances fell to the home side. First, Oliyide went on a lung bursting run down the right channel before his inviting cross was cleared only as far as Martel Powell, who’s close range half effort was blocked. Then just before half time, Tejan-Sie’s corner was met by the head of Laney at the near post, though as his flick on fell to Marc Weatherstone, the captain could only place his subsequent header wide.
The second half was almost a carbon-copy of the first 45. Brown maneuvered his way past Ollie Treacher, and Turner who tracked back, though his dangerous cross this time was met by Rob Bartley. Smith, who was used excellently as an outlet all game, used his strength to burst into the box, though Moore-Azille was on hand to make a vital tackle. Just a minute later, Smith again cut inside from the left and rolled the ball across the edge of the box to an unmarked Dacosta, who’s attempted lob went inches over the crossbar.
Good interplay of passes then allowed Rob Laney to get to the by-line, who’s cross was cleared away only as far as Tejan-Sie, though the diminutive midfielder’s skilful half-volley went high and over the bar. With the hosts pushing to salvage a game that was slipping away, soon it was 3-0. Substitute Elliot Taylor played a cutting pass down the right channel behind the home defence for Turner, who raced clear before rounding Smith and rolling the ball into an empty net. Wingate nevertheless then salvaged a consolation five minutes from time, after Weatherstone’s header from a Leon Solomon cross squeezed past King. With the game then fizzing out, the closest either side came to scoring fell to the home side. With each player evidently demanding more from each other, constant Wingate pressure allowed Healey to arrive in the box unmarked, though his spectacular volley could only find its way over the woodwork. Irrespective of the result, the home fans will be hoping that this will serve as great motivation in their team’s next game, a huge derby against local rivals Enfield Town.
After the match, Blues manager Simon Lane spoke to Wingate TV. Reflecting on the result, he said: “We just felt that with each chance going astray again, and them putting bodies on the line and blocking us; second half was better obviously, but you just felt that it wasn’t going to be our day. This is the Ryman Premier League, it is there for you if you continue to work hard. With the squad we’ve got, with the side we’ve got, we’re capable of hurting anyone, so we have to keep that belief and keep going.
On facing Enfield next, he said: “One of the beauties about playing in this league is that you have an opportunity to make up for a poor performance quickly. The guys are very keen to make up for this performance after looking at themselves. It’s a big game, we didn’t do ourselves justice when we played them at their place. We could have gone top of the league that day and that’s very fresh in our minds still. It’s a big game for our club, so we need to come out and put a performance on.”
Wingate & Finchley:
Bobby Smith, Leon Solomon, Kyle Watson (Romayn Pennant 55), Dan Brown, Marc Weatherstone, Tarik Moore-Azille, Martel Powell (Ahmet Rifat 45), Tommy Tejan Sie, Billy Healey, Karl Oliyide (Courtney Austin 76) Rob Laney
Joe Sharpe, Courtney Austin, Ahmet Rifat, Romayn Pennant, Jack Metcalfe.
Craig King, Will Salmon, Ollie Treacher, Billy Crook, Steve Sutherland, Rob Bartley, Andre Da Costa (Elliot Taylor 67), Tom Hickey (Nathan Campbell 67), Leon Smith, Charlie Collins (Jay Lovett 80), Joe Turner
Elliot Taylor, Jay Lovett, Neil Barrett, Nathan Campbell, Ryan James