Football is a game of fine margins, and often it feels like the finest of those are reserved for Wingate & Finchley. The 4 points taken from the first three games could just as easily have been two as it could have been six, had the results against Haringey and Whitehawk gone in different directions. And so it meant that there was a strange atmosphere coming into the game against Kingstonian: on the one hand on a high following a win against Haringey and a dominant performance that should have yielded more than 1 point against Whitehawk; but equally having been rolled by Folkestone in the only home game so far, and failing to put teams away like we might have deserved to have done.
It was into this context that Ahmet delivered the message to the players that: “No matter how we get it today, three points was all that was needed”. They needed to show that they could show up at home, score goals, and defend well against a side that would give nothing away all afternoon. You can add to this equation the fact that we witnessed what can only be described as a tropical thunderstorm during the first half.
And that is largely how the game progressed over the course of the afternoon. Grinding to a 2-1 victory, the Blues defended solidly, took their chances, and fought hard for the points, despite never really dominating the match for extended periods.
Four minutes in, when Ruben Carvalho rifled a ball into the bottom left corner, you thought that perhaps a repeat of the first half against Whitehawk was on the cards. His extremely well taken goal, from the edge of the area, seemed to settle some early nerves and the side looked relaxed with the ball and solid without it.
And then the downpour came. The net effect, other than some extremely wet spectators, was that it gave Kingstonian a route back into the game, after some miscommunication in the Wingate defence allowed the ball to drop to captain Tom Collins. He lifted the ball smartly over Ben Goode to deservedly equalise.
But, fresh from the lessons learned last weekend about the powerful force of momentum, the Blues struck back only three minutes later thanks to another fantastically hit finish from Ruben Carvalho. This time it was from the spot after the ball skidded through on a now very damp pitch, hitting the arm of K’s defender Matt Drage. Ruben’s penalty was unstoppable, and it sent the Blues in to the changing rooms at half time 2-1 up, despite never having gotten into top gear. But we had, crucially, denied our opponents a way back into the game.
From there on out, in mercifully dry conditions, it was a question of holding on to what we had. The two Ben’s at the back - Goode and Frempah - were imperious, handling what was thrown their way all afternoon. Will Seager was able to read the game well to cut out dangerous through balls, and Matty Achuba, who came on at half time in the centre of midfield for Christian Frimpong, who looked to have damaged his right ankle, was tenacious and composed.
Kingstonian had their chances - most notably when Andy Somo and Eddie Dsane both had close range chances excellently smothered in quick succession by Mssrs Goode and Seager - but then so did we. Zack Newton was left unmarked at the back post 8 yards out, and when Ahmet Biler managed to find him you thought it was going to be a third goal. But his connection wasn’t strong enough to guide the ball home.
And so 2-1 was how the game ultimately finished. It is a big three points for the Blues side who now climb to 9th in the league, and look set to make the short trip to Cheshunt, to face the physical task that the Ambers will throw our way on Monday.
Wingate & Finchley: Goode; Webb (Mitchell-Nelson 74’); Seager; Bani; Frempah; Frimpong (Achuba 46’); Garrett-Douglas (Ifil 65’); Newton; Chukwu; Carvalho; Biler
Unused Subs: Roberts; Long
By Chris Cummings