Wingate & Finchley suffered their first defeat of the season, after a disappointing 1-0 loss at home to fellow high flyers Tonbridge Angels, writes Khalid Karimullah.
The Blues went into the game off the back of Simon Lane being named Manager of the Month for August, and after both teams struggled to get a grip on the game, Martel Powell fashioned space for himself on the edge of the box, before he flicked the ball into Billy Healey, whose instinctive side footed attempt was saved by Anthony Di Bernardo. Tommy Tejan-Sie, pulling the strings in midfield, then made his way past Laurence Ball and Jack Parter, before cutting in from the left, but he couldn’t get much power behind his shot as the ball trickled into the hands of Di Bernardo.
Tonbridge, fielding the Ryman League’s top goalscorer in their ranks, Luke Blewden, then came close with a double attempt. After the ball was played into the feet of Blewden just outside the box, he passed it out wide to Charlie Webster who curled in a dangerous deep cross to the back post, looking for the former, but Brad Hewitt was on hand to clear away the danger. From the resulting corner, Blewden had a powerful headed attempt magnificently saved by the towering Bobby Smith, before the keeper again got down low, this time saving a header from Sonny Miles.
Moments later, Tejan-Sie with an outside of the foot pass found Karl Oliyide making an intelligent run, before he slid the ball through to Healey, who got away from his defender before hitting an effort on target, but Di Bernardo was on hand again to deny the forward. Oliyide subsequently was fouled out on the right flank, before Tejan-Sie floated in a menacing free-kick which found the head of Hewitt, but the defender could only head his attempt over the bar.
On the stroke of half-time, after the Blues failed to deal with Tonbridge Angles pressure, Tommy Whitnell then had an 18-yard effort which went wide for the visitors. The second half began brightly for the hosts, first Ola Sogbanmu found Healey who curled his effort wide of the post, after Ball had stood off him. Not long after, Tejan-Sie out on the left flank then delivered a lovely ball over the defence to Healey, whose first touch allowed him to get away from his defender, but was off balance as he got his shot away, with the ball dipping wide of the post.
The pressure was being applied from both teams. Nick Wheeler whipped in a dangerous cross towards the far post which Marc Weatherstone had to remain resolute to head away. The ball then came back out this time to Whitnell, who also delivered in a fine cross which Hewitt headed clear. Smith was then called into action once again saving down low from Tom Parkinson’s 18-yard effort, before Powell and Oliyide exchanged passes at the other end, before the latter got away from Parter but his dangerous cross was cleared away from danger.
With 20 minutes remaining, the visitors took the lead through the influential Whitnell. After he got away down the right channel, he played the ball into the feet of Blewden whose effort couldn’t beat Weatherstone, who remained commanding in the box, before a chance fell at the feet of Whitnell, who from six yards had a deflected effort which Smith couldn’t do anything about.
Tonbridge began to take the initiative and after Wheeler and Whitnell out on the left played constructive football, Wheeler had his low hard shot saved brilliantly by Smith. The game filtered out afterwards, with Simon Lane’s men struggling to get any fluidity in their attack. The Blues now entertain Needham Market at the Harry Abrahams Stadium on Tuesday evening with a chance to bounce back.
Wingate & Finchley: Bobby Smith, Leon Solomon, Kyle Watson, Rob Laney (Meshach Williams 76), Brad Hewitt. Mark Weatherstone, Martel Powell, Tommy Tejan-Sie, Billy Healey, Ola Sogbanmu (Mark Goodman 55), Karl Oliyide
Subs not used: Meshach Williams, Jack Metcalfe, Ahmet Rifat, Mark Goodman, Karl Stevenson
Tonbridge Angels: Anthony Di Bernardo, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Tom Parkinson, Laurence Ball, Sonny Miles, Charlie Webster (Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick 62), Lee Carey, Luke Blewden, Tommy Whitnell (Ellis Brown 82), Nick Wheeler
Subs not used: Ellis Brown, Gianfranco Mici, Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, Tom Phipp, Jerrome Sobers