It is not every year that Wingate & Finchley find themselves in the draw for the Third Round Qualifying of the FA Cup. And yet here we are following a 0-0 draw at home to National League South Farnborough on a wet afternoon in North London.
The replay on Tuesday, barely more than 48 hours after the final whistle on Sunday, gives the Blues a chance to cement their place in the next round, and the boys will be confident of making waves, given the level of their performance this afternoon.
“It was a fair result in the end”, said Rifat of the game. “I think we defended really well and overall I’m happy with the effort”.
The effort level cannot be understated for a team that had conceded 9 goals in three home games this season, and the workrate was noticed, and particularly appreciated, by the Blues fans behind the goal. It caused the visitors, with good Step 2 pedigree of their own, to fall into their direct approach, and where we have been caught out by some direct play in the last few weeks, it was generally well handled all afternoon by Seager, Webb, and Frempah in defence, the latter once again being superb in a Blue shirt.
For the endeavour the away side showed, they created one really good chance in the first half. It fell to Connor Cullen who managed to get his head to a ball that skidded through on the turf, turning it goalwards from just a few yards out. Ben Goode reacted quickly and got his fingertips to it to push it over the bar and behind for a corner. A real reprieve came from said corner, as NLS top scorer Alfie Pavey rose unmarked and powered a header towards goal, narrowly putting it wide of the right hand post. It was similar to the second goal conceded the week before, and was perhaps a bit of a wake up call for the Blues to be stronger and stand toe to toe with their opponents.
And wake up they did in the second half. Long, Carvalho, and Chukwu, after he was introduced, broke quickly and had a number of chances to bear down on the Farnborough goal, being denied either by some solid defending or an inability to find the crucial final ball. One time they did find the final ball, a wicked whipped cross across the face of goal by new signing Joshua Dawodu from Step 2 Braintree which only would have needed the slightest of touches, it fell just out of the reach of everyone.
The Blues weren’t allowed to play the sort of football that we’ve become accustomed to this season, thanks to the good defensive efficiency of the visitors, and so it will be something that Ahmet and the team will look to put right for the replay. “In possession we can be better. Our boys are capable of much more, and we’ve got players in there that can win games. Today they weren’t at it, but they don’t go two games in a row being like that. So Tuesday I’m sure we’ll be a little bit better in attack but we have to be at the same level defensively ”
They will also likely be without defender Will Seager, after he picked up two yellow cards and was sent off in the 85th minute. The first was for dragging his man down in the 4th minute after he had been caught in possession, which the Farnborough management team were adamant was a red card offence, despite being 40 yards out from goal. The second was more innocuous, as Seager was adjudged to have said something to the referee following a call that went against the home side.
It is the latest in a string of blows in defence, after Williams had to be replaced in the first half last weekend, and Webb went off under supervision in the second half. It looks, fortunately, only to be cramp, but it has the potential to stretch an already thinly spread defence even further. Nevertheless, it was good to see Ryan Sellers make a return to the first team after he picked up an injury in the opening game of the season.
It is a very short turnaround for all involved to be ready for Tuesday evening’s replay, which Ahmet knows will be a different proposition for his side. “We have to go again on Tuesday, at their ground with their crowd. We’ll be looking to go there and silence them very quickly”.
The Blues remain undefeated on the road this year, and while it will be their stiffest test to date, they might well fancy that they can cause an FA Cup upset and bring the magic of the cup truly alive.
Wingate & Finchley: Goode; Webb (Sellers 76’); Seager (Sent Off 85’); Achuba; Frempah; Frimpong; Dawodu; Carvalho; Ward-Cochrane (Chukwu 64’); Long; Siggers (Bani 64’)
Unused Subs: Hale-Brown; Garrett-Douglas; Francis-Adeyinka; Yeboah