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Blues and Rocks share the spoils in torrential rain on south coast

After the dramatic late excitement of the Blues' victory at Billericay on Saturday, attentions turned to a potential trip to Bognor Regis Town on Tuesday night. One of our longest journeys of the season, this one had been postponed a handful of times already dating back to last year and the British weather looked like it might cause havoc again. Although the game was on, and the 90 minutes were completed, this was likely the toughest conditions that either side will face this season. Ahmet Rifat made just one change from Saturday's starting eleven, bringing in scorer of Saturday's equaliser Zack Newton at the expense of Luke Deslandes who took his spot on the bench. 

In the opening exchanges there were opportunities for both sides with the Blues defence and goalkeeper Ben Goode performing exceptionally well in the face of numerous attempts from the Rocks. The Blues first big chance on goal fell to Anointed Chukwu who was prevented by an excellent stop from home keeper Ryan Hall. After 14 minutes, however, Hall was unable to stop Chukwu from converting the penalty spot after Elliot Long had been fouled in the box.

Anointed Chukwu bears down on goal against Billericay

The Rocks went back on the offensive after the goal, battling against the elements but ultimately missing a host of chances before a rapid counter attack from the Blues just before the interval led to midfielder Matty Achuba stroking home for his first of the season to give the Blues a two goal lead going into the break. As has often been the case for the Blues this season, it was the quality of the chances, and those finishing them, rather than the quantity, which made the difference.

Matty Achuba on the ball

The second half saw no change to the increasingly challenging conditions, however all change in terms of the sides converting their chances. Bognor came out of the blocks quickly and halved the deficit within 10 minutes of the restart thanks to striker Dan Gifford who had rediscovered his shooting boots after having been through somewhat of a goal drought in recent weeks. With a quarter of the game remaining, Gifford bagged again to level the tie and that is how it remained, despite Rifat introducing the likes of Carvalho and Deslandes from the bench in an attempt to regain the advantage.

It was a resilient effort from both sides, and an extra point for both towards their respective attempts for a playoff place. Wingate & Finchley are currently occupying 5th place, the final playoff spot with just 7 games to play. Next up sees an Easter weekend double-header with a trip to Hornchurch, who could be crowned champions, on Saturday followed by a mouth-watering home tie against in-form local side Potters Bar Town on Easter Monday.

Wingate & Finchley: Goode, Solomon (Deslandes 83'), Cracknell, Bani (Frimpong 46'), Frempah, Achuba, Garrett-Douglas, Newton (Carvalho 64'), Chukwu, Long, Biler.

Unused subs: Webb, Seager.

Photos courtesy of Martin Addison


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