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Blues frustrated by physical tie

Updated: Feb 19

Anybody that saw the fixture between these two sides in September - one where Hashtag ran out 2-0 winners - might have predicted how Saturday's tie would play out: a tense, physical game, with chances at a premium for both sides.

That was how things panned out again this weekend, with Hashtag able to limit the free flowing football that the Blues had produced at home in 2024, football that had resulted in an average of four goals a game for the home side. In the end, Hashtag's narrow defence that limited the space between their defensive units was successful in limiting Carvalho, Long (who was allegedly under the weather) and Chukwu. from being able to express themselves fully.

They were only really able to test the Hashtag keeper Joshua Strizovic from outside the area, except for one vital intervention on around 70 minutes. Chukwu rose highest from a ball in from the right, and headed the ball towards the left corner of the goal. It looked for all money to be nestling itself in the netting, before Strizovic's outstretched right hand managed to claw the ball off the line and protect his side's clean sheet.

It was a clean sheet that was intact partially through some luck, as Elliot Long appeared to be fairly clearly fouled in the penalty area in the first half. He was the quickest to a bouncing ball, nipping the ball away from a defender, before being kicked by the late-arriving Hashtag played. The noise of boot-on-boot was evident to all in and around the Hashtag box, and the fact that Long was not booked for simulation suggests that it was also evident to the referee. We'll leave it to you to fathom why the penalty wasn't given.

Those two moments of action aside, the game was fairly quiet, with aerial balls forward the order of the day for both sides. As other sides in and around the playoff places failed to pick up points, the Blues may look at the game and rue it as two points dropped. But, as Rifat succinctly shared in his post match comments, "If you're not at it, don't lose". And that's been the case for two consecutive games for the Blues, following last week's draw with Horsham.

They will look to get their mojo back next week at Enfield, in what will have some extra feeling, being a local rivalry, and a key match in the playoff run in, as fourth plays fifth.

This result leaves the Blues in fourth, three points clear of Enfield and Horsham below, but having played more matches. Three points next weekend would be massive - we'll see you there!

Wingate & Finchley: Goode; Seager; Cracknell; Bani; Frempah; Achuba; Solomon (Ifil 72'); Carvalho (Newton 89'); Chukwu; Long (Deslandes 69'); Biler

Unused Subs: Webb; Boachie


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