Wingate & Finchley sealed their place in the next round of the Ryman League Cup after a narrow 1-0 win at home to Harlow Town. The visitors came close to the opener after three minutes when former Premier League player, Ibrahima Sonko headed over from a David Cowley corner. At the other end, Wingate captain Marc Weatherstones goal bound header from a corner was fumbled then cleared for another corner by Harlow keeper Niklas Freund. This time, Weatherstone was on hand to head Wingate into the lead after a well-directed corner from Joe Sharpe and the hosts were ahead after seven minutes.
Three minutes later it was nearly 2-0, but Freund held on to Billy Healeys low shot from a Meshach Williams through ball. The visitors almost levelled the tie but Junior Dadsons stinging shot cutting in on his left foot was parried away smartly by Bobby Smith. Healey had a chance to double Wingate’s lead on 33 minutes, but his side footed effort flew a whisker over Freunds crossbar and Wingate went into half-time only one goal to the good. The impressive Ryman North outfit came out into the second half full of energy but almost found themselves two down, the alert Freund parrying away a Mark Goodman cross-cum-shot on 49 minutes. Freund was on hand to deny Tommy Tejan-Sie two minutes later, with his side pushing forward to force an equaliser.
Harlow substitute Billy Jones strike from 10 yards was saved excellently low down by the ever reliable Smith after a superb run and cut back from Joe Benjamin. The hosts then had a goal disallowed on 71 minutes when Tejan-Sie was alleged to be offside as he rounded Freund and tapped home, although Williams was the man who appeared to be offside. Goodman came close from Wingate again but his shot after an excellent bursting run was blocked by a stretching Sonko, who was a brick wall for the majority of the game. In stoppage time, Rob Laney had the chance to put the tie to bed but his long range attempt from a poor Freund clearance was too soft and easily gathered by the keeper. In the dying embers, Harry Princes low goal bound effort was spectacularly parried away by Smith, preventing a penalty-shoot out.
Wingate held on to progress through the Ryman League Cup and face Kingstonian in the League on Saturday afternoon.
Marc Weatherstone & Simon Lane interviews: HERE
Report by Nikhil Saglani