Wingate & Finchley recovered from defeat on Saturday afternoon with a strong 1-0 home win over Leiston FC. Windy conditions encircled North London and would go on to be pivotal to both teams performances. Neither side was able to keep the ball in the opening exchanges due to the conditions and Wingate struggled to beat Leistons high line. The first clear-cut chance fell to the hosts on 11 minutes, when Daniel Brown played the ball through to Karl Oliyide, but the striker shot straight at Ashlee Jones. Four minutes later, Rob Laney played in Lee Barney, and after very good hold up play, the latters lay off to Alfie Bartram only resulted in a curling effort well over the crossbar.
But it was only five minutes later that Bartram became the hero. Tommy Tejan-Sie played a ball into Bartrams feet and the 25-year-old took one touch with his right foot and sent a sublime arrowing shot into Jones bottom left hand corner with his left foot from just outside the box. Wingate continued to press Leiston and almost doubled their lead when Mark Goodmans bullish tackle saw him escape with the ball and, after jinking past two defender, sent a powerful effort just wide of the right hand post from the right side of the area.
On 31 minutes, Wingate were the beneficiaries of a fortunate decision. Brad Hewitt tussled with Joe Francis inside the area and, despite appeals from Leiston players, was adjudged to have won the ball fairly. Wingate went up the other end and nearly scored but Oliyides shot from a Barney lay off was timid and easily smothered by Jones. Oliyide was at the heart of the action again, and his mazy run and powerful shot led to Jones parrying the ball in front of him but the ball was cleared away just as Tejan-Sie was following in to tap home and Leiston survived yet another scare.
Bartram continued his excellent performance with an inch-perfect through ball to Oliyide, but the striker could only shoot straight at an onrushing Jones despite getting into a scoring position. Leiston almost snatched an equaliser in the closing stages of the first half but Stuart Boardleys header from an in swinging corner could only find the back of the Harvey Ackerman Stand and the hosts went into the break a goal to the good.
The second half saw equally difficult conditions and the visitors began strongly. Boardleys free-kick was whipped in from near the halfway line but the strong winds saw it move towards Bobby Smiths goal and the keeper, returning from injury, clawed the ball over the bar superbly. Leon Ottley-Gooch skipped past Goodman on 51 minutes but the right-back got back into position impeccably and blocked the Leiston strikers powerful drive for a corner. Tejan-Sies free-kicks have resulted in numerous goals this season but, on 60 minutes, he could only find Jones gloves as the wind perhaps put too much onto the diminutive midfielders set piece.
Bartram and Tejan-Sie continued to boss the midfield, linking up well with Barney on several occasions but the latters lay off to Tejan-Sie on 72 minutes resulted in a painful, low save for Jones to keep the visitors in the game. Four minutes later, Bartram dummied Seb Dunbar and played the ball across to Oliyide, but a diving Joe Jefford blocked the strikers finessed shot. On 79 minutes, a bizarre indirect free-kick was given against Smith in the Wingate goal, who had dropped the ball and picked it back up, surprising the entire crowd as to a relatively unknown rule. However, Boardleys powerful drive was blocked by the thighs of Oliyide, who took a moment or two to recover from the sting of the ball on a cold winters night against his bare legs.
Another gust of wind took Tom Winters cross towards the opposite corner, but the ball dropped onto the roof of the net to the relief of the scrambling Smith in goal. In the end, Wingate held on for a gritty win in difficult conditions and move up to 4th in the table with a game in hand over leaders, Dulwich Hamlet, whom the Blues are only four points behind. The Blues now travel to East Thurrock on Saturday and could go as high as second should results go their way
WingateTV interviews with Tommy Tejan-Sie and Alfie Bartram: HERE
Report by Nikhil Saglani