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Late drama as clinical Blues break Ricay hearts

When Zack Newton was laid through on goal by Elliot Long in the 95th minute on Saturday in Essex, he kept his composure, kept his focus, and buried the ball past Billericay goalkeeper Dan Wilks to rescue what looked at that stage to be a vital point in the ever increasing scramble for the playoff places. 

But this team knows better than that. They know that they can score against anybody in this league, and it was notable how celebrations were muted (at least amongst the players) when Newton’s attempt hit the back of the net. Never mind winning a huge point against a top quality team away from home in the final run-in. They wanted more. Zack himself led the group back to the centre circle ready to kick off again, knowing that there was still a good chunk of time left to play on a cold and windy afternoon at the New Lodge. 

Fast forward 3 minutes, and this time it’s Joe Boachie who found his composure when all around him were losing theirs, popping up to tap home a brilliant ball from Anointed Chukwu and seal the unlikeliest of three points for the Blues. There were no other thoughts than pure elation at that point, as Boachie’s team-mates, and Blues fans behind the goal all mobbed the forward. Plaudits also went to Chukwu, who found himself bearing down on goal with the chance to win the game. Earlier in the season, he might have taken a shot from a tight angle, but this time, much to the chagrin of the 1,100 Billericay fans in attendance, he chose to square the ball to Boachie for the tap in. It was a mark of his maturity, and an insight into his vision - one that ultimately led to three points coming back into North London. 

His assist was the crowning moment of a good display from the centre forward. But he wasn’t the only one who put in a shift for the full 90 minutes. Matty Achuba was his usual industrious self, tracking back hard, winning the ball, and being a robust presence in the middle of the park for the Blues. Elliot Long, who by his own admission hadn’t been as impactful as he perhaps could have been over the last couple of weeks, played a key role in both goals and was ably supported by a backline that generally stood up well to a good footballing side in Billericay. 

Even the bluest-tintest glasses out there though would be able to acknowledge that it wasn’t the perfect away performance. Billericay, who had come into the game winless in their last seven, came out of the blocks flying, and created three notable chances throughout the course of the game. The first, their goal, was a well worked ball across the face of goal for Bradley Stevenson to place into the bottom corner just 10 minutes in. Stevenson had another good chance at the start of the second half, as Solomon and Goode were able to block and smother his attempt from the edge of the six yard box. 

But the hosts will feel most aggrieved by their chance just after the Blues had dragged themselves level. Boachie’s winner aside, it was the best chance of the game, as it fell to Richie Asamoah six yards out. The slight bobble may have affected him, as he put his foot through it, to the extent that the ball ended up going over the stand and handsomely wide. Contrast it to the composure shown by Long, Newton, Chukwu, and Boachie, who took the ball down the other end, and won the game for the Blues. 

It is this clinical finishing that Rifat and co. will be hoping is on display as we face a really tough run in to finish the season, starting with Bognor, Hornchurch, and Potters over the course of 7 days. Results on Saturday were generally favourable, and despite being as low as eighth at one point in the afternoon, we head into that run in 5th place, 4 points clear of the chasing pack, with games in hand (Bognor away, and Hastings at home). Absolutely nothing is certain with 8 games to play, except for the fact that it’s going to be a wild ride. 

Make sure you don’t miss it. 

There are just four home games remaining, the first of which is a local derby on Easter Monday as we welcome Potters Bar. 

We’ll see you there. 

Wingate & Finchley: Goode; Solomon; Cracknell; Bani (Frimpong 77’); Frempah; Achuba; Garrett-Douglas (Newton 59’); Deslandes (Boachie 73’); Chukwu; Long; Biler

Unused Subs: Seager; Ifil

Hear from the skipper after the game below:

Photos courtesy of Martin Addison


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