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Wingate & Finchley suffered a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Kingstonian in their Ryman League Cup Semi-Final at the Kingsmeadow Stadium on Monday night, writes, writes Khalid Karimullah.

Ryman League League Cup Semi-Final:
KIngstonian 2 Wingate & Finchley 2
Monday, 29 February, 2016

RESULTS & FIXTURES:
TABLE:

With the atmosphere within the ground buzzing, the game saw its first goal straight from kick-off. A hopeful through-ball by the hosts fell kindly to Andre McCollin, who from no more than six yards found his shot roll past the shocked Bobby Smith to give Kingstonian the lead.

McCollin minutes later came close to adding a second, after Pelayo Pico Gomez’s shot was initially blocked, the ball bobbled through to the goalscorer, who hit his half-volley inches wide. At the other end, with the visitors beginning to gain some momentum, they grabbed a well deserved equaliser. Karl Oliyide drifted inside from the left flank prior to rolling a cutting pass through to Rob Laney, whose one-on-one effort was denied, as Wingate debutant Freddie Moncur followed up on the rebound after 10 minutes played.

The home fans’ disappointment only lasted four minutes, after seeing their side restore the lead. McCollin won a free-kick near 25 yards from goal, before his low driven attempt found the bottom corner, leaving the North Finchley outfit bemused. Gomez soon after drifted inside the area, as his shot-cum-cross rolled dangerously across the face of goal with McCollin lying in wait.

McCollin was involved heavily again, after Smith came out to close down the striker inside the area, an unfortunate clash left the Wingate keeper needing to be stretchered off to a round of applause. With no substitute goalkeeper on the bench, striker Rob Laney was asked to keep guard. With the best from of defence being attack, Mark Goodman played Billy Healey away down the right flank, before the latter found Alfie Bartram at the far post who just couldn’t keep his shot down.

Oliyide then drifted past Sean Bonnett-Johnson as his near post cross looking for Healey was just cleared away. With the last significant action of the half, Gomez broke away in on goal though was met by the towering Laney who stayed big, before stopping the striker getting his shot away.

The next 45 minutes saw a barrage of Wingate attacks. Oliyide drifted into the area before seeing his shot from all but six yards blocked, before the visitors deservedly levelled. Karl Stevenson’s precise cross from the right arrived at the clinical Healey, whose delightful touch found its way past Rob Tolfrey.

Oliyide once again found himself inside the area, though could only watch as his curled effort went past the post. Seconds later, Stevenson again delivered in a fine cross which was met by Healey, who could only place his header at Tolfrey.

Stevenson ensured Kingstonian wouldn’t have a rest after breaking up a hosts’ counter-attack on the edge of their own box, before his attempted dipping effort bounced just past the post. Leon Fisher and Bartram then combined in the middle of the park, and despite the latters pass being intercepted, Oliyide won back possession allowing Healey to have a shot which flew wide.

The closest the home side came to causing Laney any sort of danger was from set-pieces, though the striker confidently handled every situation. As the game was nearing 90 minutes, Healey returned the favour and played a pass into the path of Stevenson, who just couldn’t get his shot away with the ball inches ahead of him.

With penalties needed to decide who advanced to the final, the ground became very tense. As Laney came within inches from reaching all but one of Kingstonian’s successful penalties, Keith Rowland’s side fell short on the night as they missed two of their four spot-kicks. However, the frustration for the Blues was the positional play of Tolfrey, who appeared to not be standing where the rules apply he should be.

The win-loss record isn’t one that all involved with Wingate & Finchley wanted, though everyone played their part on a night which epitomised the ethos and fighting spirit within the club. The away fans made their way back to North London knowing that the better side over the 90 minutes didn’t make the cup final.

Line-ups:

Kingstonian:
Rob Tolfrey, Sean Bonnett-Johnson (Aaron Goode 62), George Wells, Lee O’Leary, Sam Page, Bruce Hogg, Dan Bennett (Reece Beckles 71), Harold Odametey, Pelayo Pico Gomez, Andre McCollin, Ryan Newman (Jake Kempton 71)

Subs not used:
Reece Beckles, Tyron Smith, Jake Kempton, Aaron Goode

Wingate & Finchley:
Bobby Smith (Karl Stevenson 33), Mark Goodman, Joe Foley, Ahmet Rifat, Marc Weatherstone, Leon Fisher, Rob Laney, Alfie Bartram, Billy Healey, Freddie Moncur, Karl Oliyide

Subs not used:
Karl Stevenson, Jack Read, Bradley Marriott

Referee:
Stuart Butler

Attendance:
178

WingateTV interview with Rob Laney: