Not all victories are created equally. Some, like that at home to Canvey Island, are beautiful displays of flowing football that puts the opponent to the sword. Some, like Cheshunt or Lewes, are well-martialled games where a resilient defence is supported by a lethal counter attack that is able to take advantage of any spaces left by the advancing opponent.
And some, like Saturday’s victory away at Carshalton are off the back of pure grit and determination. Aside from a frantic opening ten minutes, when the Blues came out of the gates flying, Carshalton dominated large portions of the game. They created a number of chances, scored two and could well have argued that they should have scored more.
Ben Goode in goal made a string of key saves towards the end of the first half to keep the scoreline at 0-0, and the three centre-halves: Webb, Cracknell, and Frempah got their bodies and heads to many a ball that found its way into the Wingate box throughout the course of the afternoon.
In fact, the hosts twice had control of the ball behind Ben Goode, but were unable to find the net either time - the first as Andre Coker put the ball wide of the gaping net, and the second as Fahad Nazor got back very smartly to clean up the danger with Goode out of the game.
It was this defensive grit that was on display all afternoon, and which ultimately carried the day for the North Londoners. They shipped two goals; one was a touch unfortunate as Billy Cracknell looked the clear the ball unmarked, but miskicked it and sent it into the top corner past a helpless Goode.
Those two goals against were thankfully not relevant come full time, thanks to the precision with which Elliot Long and Anointed Chukwu were able to put the ball into the back of the Carshalton net. Chukwu got his first after being laid through by Long with a beautifully weighted through ball that allowed the striker to just beat the goalie and stab it beyond him. It sent the Blues into the sheds at 1-0 to the good, and they quickly bagged two more goals after the restart. Both came from Long and both were fantastic goals.
The first, as a repayment for assisting his goal earlier in the game, Chukwu held the ball up and laid it off to Long inside the area on a tight angle. With his first touch, Elliot rifled the ball into the top corner, beating the keeper who couldn’t react to the ferocity with which the ball was struck.
The second was arguably even better. After some interplay between Long, Ifil, and Nazor down the right, Elliot picked the ball up 25 yards out and dribbled past two defenders. From a very similar position to his first goal, he once again beat the keeper on the angle, this time as he fired and low and across the keeper into the bottom corner.
All this action happened after referee Daniel D'Urso (yes, son of Andy) took a fall early in the first half. After trying to continue, he realised he was unable to referee the remainder of the match. With the prospect of the game being called off only ten minutes in, one of the assistant referees took charge of the remaining 80 minutes, while a Blues coach ran the line to ensure the match could continue.
In the end, the three goals held up, largely thanks to the defensive grit showed for the majority of the game, and the Blues now find themselves back into the playoff spots, albeit very early in the season. It also means the Blues now have the second most points collected on the road this season, behind league leaders Hornchurch. It’s quite the stat that shows the way they have managed to martial games all season long.
They are next in action at home to Billericay on Saturday 2nd December, where one of the league’s most potent attacks will take on the division’s best defence in ‘Ricay. It is also 4th vs 5th and so it’s a game you won’t want to miss.
Wingate & Finchley: Goode; Webb; Cracknell; Bani; Frempah; Frimpong (Nazor 46’); Dawodu (Ifil 46’); Carvalho; Chukwu; Long (Solomon 83’); Biler
Unused Subs: Yeboah; Hernandez