Wingate & Finchley secured a spot in the last eight of the London Senior Cup after overcoming a resilient Cockfosters side at the Abrahams Stadium, writes Nikhil Saglani.
The Blues took the lead inside two minutes when Tom Massey blocked Alfie Bartram’s shot, but Billy Healey volleyed home his 17th goal of the season past a helpless Austin Byfield. Bartram nearly made it 2-0 two minutes later but his low free kick was deflected into the arms of Byfield.
The Cockfosters goalkeeper became somewhat of a nuisance to Wingate in the first half and Healey was prevented from a brace on five minutes when Byfield tipped over his shot from inside the area after a lung-busting Rob Laney run. The visitors’ first half chance fell to Emmanuel Melford-Rowe, but his shot from inside the penalty box was dragged into the side netting without troubling Jack Metcalfe in the Wingate goal. Byfield was called into action yet again, this time tipping over Leon Solomon’s curling, dipping effort on 11 minutes. Whilst Wingate were in control, the Fosters did not look out of place on the pitch despite being two leagues below their hosts.
However, Wingate doubled their lead on 21 minutes through Laney. Bartram had seemed to be fouled inside the area but Laney, playing upfront again, placed the ball into the goalkeeper’s right hand corner to avoid any controversy. Six minutes later, it was 3-0 when Massey turned Solomon’s square ball across the six-yard box into his own net. The game looked to be all but over by this stage, but Metcalfe was on hand to superbly prevent Melford-Rowe from stabbing home at the back post after a ricocheted free-kick fell to the striker’s feet. Sivi Bao made a Lionel Messi-esque run for the visitors on the half hour mark but, after beating each of Wingate’s back four, he could only drag his shot wide of Metcalfe’s left hand post. In the dying embers of the half, 19 year-old centre back Tarik Moore-Azille tripped Gary Simmonds inside the area and the midfielder stepped up to dispatch the penalty, despite Metcalfe getting within an inch of saving his fourth penalty of the season.
The second half began tensely and the visitors looked to have gained the impetus from their late first half goal. Substitute George Ironton pulled back another goal for Cockfosters as he beat four Wingate defenders before finishing across Metcalfe to emulate Messi perfectly. The hosts looked shaky by this stage and the tension could be felt around the ground on what was a bitterly cold Tuesday night.
Mark Goodman and Lee Barney both came close before the 80th minute. The former shot into the side netting after beating two Fosters players and the latters’ shot-cum-cross just evaded a sliding Healey and flew wide of the Cockfosters right-hand post. Simon Lane was forced to bring on the creative Tommy Tejan-Sie and the decision almost paid off. The midfielder took aim from 25 yards out but his shot ended up no more than a foot wide of Byfield’s left-hand post. Healey had another chance to grab a second but his downward header from a Kyle Watson cross was scrambled off the line by Byfield and Jonny Sexton.
The visitors piled on the pressure in the closing stages and Byfield found himself in the opposition penalty box for a corner but the referee’s whistle was met by a sigh of relief from the Wingate faithful, sending the club into the quarter finals of the London Senior Cup to face either Redbridge or Clapton.
Wingate & Finchley:
Metcalfe, Stevenson (Tejan-Sie, 80), Watson, Brown, Weatherstone ©, Moore-Azille, Powell, Solomon, Healey, Bartram (Goodman, 64), Laney (Barney, 78)
Unused Subs: Grantham, Marriott.
Byfield, Omondi (Boxer, 90), Sexton, Spaul ©, Massey, Cordara-Soanes, Hart, Simmonds (Ironton, 64), Bao (Reid, 86), Melford-Rowe, Lawrence.
Unused Subs: Dunne, Resch.
WingateTV interviews with Rob Laney and Jack Metcalfe: