Leatherhead preview

Wingate and Finchley will be hopeful of overturning a winless run stretching back five games when they take on 15th placed Leatherhead at home this Saturday. Wingate's last win in all competitions came over a month ago when Billy Healey's first half hat trick sent the Blues through to the semi-final of the Ryman League Cup. Since then, however, Wingate have failed to emerge as victors from any of their five matches, including their subsequent loss on penalties to Kingstonian in the semi-finals of that competition. But strong performances in their last few fixtures from a squad hampered by injury have come as green shoots of recovery while the team gets back to full fitness. Tuesday's game at playoff contenders Dulwich Hamlet appeared to be over by half-time when the South London outfit took a 2-0 lead into the break. But a strong second half fight back from the Blues saw defender Aron Pollock score his first goal for the club and they were unlucky not to have left Champion Hill with at least a point. Last Saturday's game away at Tonbridge Angels was almost a mirror image of Tuesday's performance. Racing into to what appeared to be an unassailable 3-0 first half lead, Wingate took their foot off the gas midway into the second and title-challenging Tonbridge took full advantage, running out as 4-3 winners. And manager Keith Rowland can see where improvements have to be made. Speaking after Tuesday's game at Dulwich, he said "To say we're unlucky is not good enough - you can't be unlucky all the time in football." "I've got to bring a steel and determination in to the group that will help us grind out results." When asked about Wingate's recent run, he explained "We're inconsistent at periods in the game. We're good for a half, they're good for a half. We're good for 60 minutes, then they're good for 30 minutes. And in those periods is where we concede goals." "But in those periods is also where we score goals. I have to find the right balance." Inconsistency has also been an issue for Saturday's opponents Leatherhead. Their 2-1 win at East Thurrock last Saturday ended a barren run of seven games and was just their third victory in 2016. But a 3-0 midweek loss to Bognor Regis kept the club just just two places and three points below Wingate with a game in hand. Vasieleious Karagiannis and Kiernan Hughes-Mason are the Tanners' current top scorers with 13 and 11 goals apiece, though the squad has been boosted by two new arrivals in March. Myles Powponne started his career at Leatherhead's academy, but played on a dual registration for both Walton Casuals and Cobham FC in the last couple of seasons before resigning for the Tanners. While striker Matt Bodkin, who featured in last season's Ryman League Team of the Year for his part in Maidstone's title win, has signed on a one month loan from the now Vanarama League One South side. And Wingate will have to be prepared to face him - Bodkin has started both of Leatherhead's games since joining and looks set to do so again on Saturday. A win for the Blues could see them climb to 11th, whilst giving them some breathing space on the teams around them in the bottom half as they enter the 'home straight' of the season. But even a loss will see Wingate stay above Leatherhead by virtue of their positive goal difference. With earlier postponements in the season meaning games will now come thick and fast for the Blues, Rowland will hope this match sees his side begin to strike the perfect balance. Preview by Andy Gerlis

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Wingate & Finchley held the end of season awards night for 2015/16 on Sunday 24th April.