Wingate & Finchley made it two wins from two after a fantastic comeback win at Hampton & Richmond Borough. Simon Lane made one change from Saturdays win over Brentwood Town, Rob Laney replacing Michael Buckley. It was the hosts that got off to the better start when Charlie Moones speculative volley from 25 yards out was gathered easily by Bobby Smith after only four minutes. Wingates first chance came on 12 minutes but Billy Healeys attempted one-two with his former Hanwell Town strike partner, Laney, was cleared for a corner. Two minutes later, it was Laney who attempted to find Healey but his pass was just behind Saturdays match winner.
After a quiet start, the game burst into life and Wingate had to ride a spell of constant pressure. Eddie Hutchinsons header crashed the Wingate post and was cleared for a corner by Laney, who also cleared the resulting corner. Up the other end, Seb Brown cleared a through ball but the ball fell to Martel Powell, whose speculative effort from the halfway line dipped just over the crossbar, leaving Wingate inches away from the lead. Ola Sogbanmus drive flew high and wide on 27 minutes, before chances at both ends. Moone crossed into the Wingate box and Nic Kabamba thought he'd put Hampton 1-0 up, only for the ever present Smith to block the goal bound tap-in from point blank range. Wingate countered from this and Karl Oliyide was played in, but his left footed stinger was saved excellently by Brown in the Hampton goal.
On 31 minutes, Tom Jelleys free kick just evaded the Wingate crossbar, whilst Tommy Tejan-Sies free kick from 30 yards was gathered by Brown. Laney then had a golden chance to put the visitors 1-0 up, but after receiving a through ball from Leon Solomon, he managed to put his shot wide of Browns left hand post, letting the hosts off after a poor deployment of the offside trap. On the 40 minute mark, the hosts did take the lead. Moone played Dean Sinclair in on goal and he expertly chipped the ball over an onrushing Smith to put Hampton 1-0 up at half time.
The second half was a completely different story, with Wingate dominating the majority. However, the hosts had a goal ruled offside that may have put them beyond reach. Kabamba slid in at the back post to convert Moones scuffed shot, but was alleged to have been behind the defence and Wingate were let off. From this moment on, Wingate took the game by the scruff of the neck and produced what was to be an exceptional second half performance. Ahmet Rifat was first to chance his arm, but his header into the ground from a Powell free-kick struck the bar and bounced onto the roof of the Hampton net. Healey then came close to his third goal of the season, but his powerful low strike was well parried by Brown.
On the hour mark, the Hampton resistance was broken. Brad Hewitt played in Healey, who slipped a through ball into Oliyide and the young midfielder poked his shot into the back of the net, much to the delight of the travelling Wingate fans behind the goal. Three minutes later the turnaround was complete. A low corner from Powell was bundled away, but Rifat rifled home a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box, causing further scenes in the away end of the Beveree Stadium. A minute later, Tejan-Sie nearly made it three, but his shot from a Solomon cross was blocked by Ryan Newman.
The hosts giant centre half Moussa Diarra headed over from a free-kick, then a corner, but his side were still unable to find an answer to a brilliant second half from Wingate. Oliyide thought he had made it 3-1 but his excellent strike was ruled out as Laney was alleged to be in an offside position when he laid the ball back to Oliyide. Rifat almost grabbed his second on 71 minutes, but once again struck the crossbar after heading into the ground from a Powell corner. Hampton piled on the pressure in the last 10 minutes and Smith was on hand to prevent Moone from equalising, meeting his low strike and keeping his side in the lead. Tejan-Sie went up the other end and after dummying two midfielders, his shot was saved low down by Brown. Smith made an incredible save on 86 minutes when he clawed out Diarras top corner-bound header with one hand, then caught the ball over his head from an audacious lob from pacey substitute Jerome Federico. As Smith cleared, the referees whistle blew to ensure Wingate began the season with six points from an available six.
After the game, captain Leon Solomon said, 'I think in the first half it was tough as they'd done their homework and pressed us hard. But in the second half, our passing game came into it and they couldn't handle us.' Brad Hewitt said, 'It was tough, they were very good opponents. We were unfortunate to go behind but in the second half we took our chances and scored a couple of good goals. I'm feeling good and playing with Rifat is great as he's a real asset.'
Report by Nikhil Saglani