Wingate & Finchley travelled to the Frost Financial Stadium to face Canvey Island for their reverse fixture with the Gulls, writes Khalid Karimullah.
Simon Lane’s side would have been remembering the controversial ending to the game in North London, hoping to redress the result.
The opening period saw both teams struggle to get hold of possession, until Harrison Chatting found himself in space and looked for the bottom corner, however Jack Metcalfe was on hand to gather a less than speculative effort. At the other end, some good interplay of passing between Lee Barney, Billy Healey and Rob Laney saw the latter then put his attempted effort high and over the bar. Leon Solomon then constructed space for himself before feeding the ball out to Laney, who after forcing Canvey to leave gaps open with a stretching run, found Martel Powell on the edge of the box whose vision found Barney charging in at the far post, however the linesman had his flag raised for an offside as the striker was inches away from reaching the ball.
The home side struggled to construct any real opening until Tyrell Miller-Rodney, drifting out to the left flank, curled a stunning cross onto the head of Tony Stokes, who skilfully flicked the ball towards the near corner with his back to goal, however Metcalfe was positioned well to see the danger trickle out. Minutes later, Canvey Island found themselves in the lead. After winning possession from a loose pass, Glenn Poole delivered a precise cross into the path of Martin Touhy, who after pulling away from his defender, hit a controlled volley back across the face of goal into the far corner with 27 minutes played.
Minutes later, the Blues almost responded in brilliant fashion. After Solomon powered his way into the box, his curled cross was met by Laney who rose highest at the far post, however despite the forwards determination, he just couldn’t get his header on target. With the first half drawing to a close, a dangerous low cross was delivered in from the left by Ashley Dumas looking for Touhy, who slid in looking for a tap in, albeit Metcalfe was out quickly to deny the forward and made the gather.
The second half saw a revitalised Blues, who played with precision and dominance. After winning a corner, Powell’s delivered near post cross was deflected onto the post by the flapping Conor Gough, before the loose ball was cleared. Intricate passing in midfield allowed Barney to be played in on goal, before he was challenged from behind by Richard Halle who saw an immediate red card in the 49th minute. From the resulting free-kick, Solomon curled the ball over the wall looking for the near corner, however Gough was on hand at full stretch to palm the danger clear.
Powell was in full control of the proceedings at this point, first the skilful midfielder found Healey, who from 20 yards forced Gough to get down low again to his right, before Powell played a splendid pass out to Daniel Brown on the right channel, who passed inside to Healey, and with the forward’s arrowing top corner strike on its way in, Gough somehow denied the Blues from equalising, clawing the ball off the line with a stunning acrobatic save. Wingate continued to press for that elusive goal which almost came. After Brown exchanged passes with Solomon, the latter’s 20 yard effort was saved by Gough and the post, before Healey charged in looking for the rebound, but the keeper again denied the forward.
Against the run of play, moments later in the 70th minute, the hosts found themselves leading 2-0. After Canvey won a free kick out on the left, on the edge of the box, Poole’s well taken free-kick was half cleared away with the ball falling to Touhy, who thumped the ball through a pile of players into the back of the net.
Despite that setback, Wingate continued their dominance. First, Brown’s ball across the six-yard box found Karl Oliyide whose effort from close-range was denied by Gough, prior to Oliyide skilfully flicking the ball over Canvey’s defence which fell to the feet of Ola Sogbanmu, who hit his effort over with just the keeper to beat. The Blues’ chances were coming thick and fast, and did find the back of the net through Lee Barney, who tapped in Solomon’s cross from six yards, however the forward was denied by the offside flag.
Oliyide then intelligently drifted between the lines before drilling an 18-yard effort which Gough again denied. From the resulting corner however, Wingate did find a way back into the fixture. After the ball failed to be cleared successfully, Ahmet Rifat was on hand in injury time to tap in from close-range. With Wingate pushing to level the score, Rifat’s ball in from the right found Brad Hewitt who attempted to flick the ball past Gough, however from close range the keeper somehow palmed his effort away with a mesmerising save. The mood after the match was one of frustration and disbelief, the Blues coming away from a game in which they certainly merited at least a share of the points.
Conor Gough, Jake Pitty, Ashley Dumas, Tyrell Miller-Rodney, Richard Halle, Lawrence Yiga, Ozzy Adeniji (Marlon Agyakwa 76), Glen Poole, Harrison Chatting, Martin Touhy (Omarr Lawson 90), Tony Stokes (Freddie Warren 64)
Subs not used: Marlon Agyakwa, Omarr Lawson, Dan Gilchrist, Freddie Warren, Ayrton Coley
Wingate & Finchley:
Jack Metcalfe, Mark Weatherstone, Kyle Watson (Tommy Tejan-Sie 80), Leon Solomon, Brad Hewitt, Ahmet Rifat, Martel Powell, Daniel Brown, Billy Healey (Karl Oliyide 68), Lee Barney, Rob Laney (Ola Sogbanmu 80)
Subs not used: Mark Goodman, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Ola Sogbanmu, Michael Buckley, Karl Oliyide
Mr Gary Maskell