Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wingate & Finchley
Ryman Premier League
A cold, wet Tuesday night seemed the perfect time for a clash between top of the table Margate and 7th placed hosts Wingate & Finchley. The home side needed some sort of result after a turbulent run of games and they started well, seeing a lot of the ball during the early stages, with neither side registering a chance of any significance.
However on seven minutes, the visitors seemed to have taken the lead but Brett Johnson's header was cleared off the line to appeals for handball but were waved away by referee Stephen Bates. Wingate responded well and on nine minutes, Rob Laney flicked on a David Knight corner but an under pressure Marc Weatherstone lashed over from the edge of the box. The hosts were matching the league leaders every step of the way and loanee Ifeanyi Allen burst through the heart of the Margate defence before delicately chipping over an on rushing Nikki Bull but saw his effort cleared off the line by Anthony Riviere.
It was the home side who continued to dominate as Allen once again found himself in the area and after some silky skills, shot straight at Bull - who saved comfortably. The pressure continued as a Tommy Tejan-Sie cross was drilled across the six yard box, but there was nobody on hand to provide the finishing touch. An anxious home support hoped that their side would not rue all these missed chances and they were almost made to pay when Marc Weatherstone lost the ball in defence but a brilliant recovery challenge from his mistake prevented any danger.
On 33 minutes, Ola Sogbanmu played a perfectly weighted pass into Rob Laney, who expertly rounded the keeper before being brought down. Strong appeals for a penalty were correctly waved away as Johnson seemed to have won the ball. Allen once again had a shot, this time from 25 yards out but it sailed, harmlessly, over the bar. He seemed to be Wingate's biggest threat going forward in the first half, which ended 0-0, but not before the away side had a goal correctly ruled out for offside.
The second half began much more evenly with the home side's central men Weatherstone, Ahmet Rifat and Stuart Lake dealing with any aerial balls aimed towards them. On 53 minutes a perfect ball was played over the visitors' midfield, flicked on by Knight to Laney. However his half volley from the edge of the box sailed over the bar and onto the busy Summers Lane. The hosts seemed to be edging closer to a goal and the moment finally arrived when, on 58 minutes, Tejan-Sie cut inside the box, shot and his effort was deflected in by an in-form Knight to give the hosts the lead.
Wingate had the chance to double their lead when Tejan-Sie was once again the provider but his pinpoint cross evaded the on rushing Knight by millimetres. Only a minute later, another cross flashed across the Margate six yard box, with Knight the provider this time - but to no avail once again. Four minutes later, the home side were made to pay for the missed chances as Mark Goodman's sloppy back pass sold keeper Bobby Smith short. Luke Moore rounded the on rushing keeper and after composing himself, smashed a shot into the net, in between two defenders.
A ping-pong like series of events was to follow as Goodman's cross was cleared and a pacey Margate counter attack was superbly halted by Weatherstone. Wingate broke from this and Laney was in on goal, rounded the keeper and shot but Bull recovered in time to smother the ball into his hands. His throw out led to a ball fed through to Moore, who's shot was extremely well saved by a fully stretched Smith. The final four minutes were extremely cagey as neither side wanted to lose - but both sides had chances to win. First an intelligent, patient passing move led to substitute Karl Oliyide testing Bull, who saved well. Then, Margate's Ryan Moss was perfectly played in but Smith was, once again, out like a flash to save for a corner - which was cleared.
That was to be the end of an enthralling game, contested very well until the final whistle, with neither side deserving to lose. A superb display from the hosts against difficult opposition was fully deserving of a draw, but the missed chances will be rued upon reflection.
Report by Nikhil Saglani
Wingate & Finchley