By Aaron Toubian
Blues progress in London Senior County Cup
Wingate & Finchley advanced to the Quarter-Final stage of the London Senior Cup courtesy of a 4-3 penalty shootout triumph, following a gritty 1-1 draw against a spirited Woodford Town team, who play in the Essex Senior League, two divisions below Rifat’s Blueboys.
To begin with, the encounter looked a highly cagey and circumspect affair, both sides failing to create an opportunity which held any sort of promise or warranted any form of praise. If the deadlock were to be broken, it ought to come through a set-piece situation.
Youthful yet exciting, up stepped Luc Achermann-Stanfield. The teenager rifled home the breakthrough from a free-kick position.
First blood, Wingate. But not for long. Woodford sprung a rapid response through an equaliser of the highest quality. A seemingly talented Dimitri Christou hit home the sweetest of volleys, sending the Yellow contingent into raptures. Wingate’s initial control looked a distant memory and the visitors seemed to be building momentum, ten minutes before the break.
An uneventful ending to first-half dragged through onto the vast majority of the second period and in a first 45 which saw the Blues go in-front and their opponents equalise, the remaining stages looked quite the contrast.
A bland and sluggish second-half was ultimately headlined by the comeback of a recently injury-ridden, Luke Ifil, as well as somewhat of a homecoming for Wingate club legend, Olarinde (Ola) Williams, a key player in the Blues’ famous ‘treble’ winning campaign in 2011. Williams made his return to Summers Lane after spending three years at National League South side, Cheshunt FC.
As the half progressed, vibrant, left-back, Ben Siggers, proved to be Wingate’s primary source of creativity as the encounter ran its course.
Cross after cross. Chance after chance. Clearance after clearance, as far as an impressive Woodford backline were concerned.
The night held a strong essence of a shootout, right from the off. As the tie progressed, murmurs of “penalties” echoed round the Maurice Rebak Stadium. And, spot-kicks it was.
Fortunately, the Finchley boys prevailed by a 4-3 scoreline and in doing so, set up an interesting Quarter-Final tie. Dulwich Hamlet, of the National League South, learnt they were N12 bound.
Speaking after his team’s triumph, Wingate boss, Ahmet Rifat, stated that his team “should really be dealing with that game in 90 minutes” and, perhaps, were “a little lucky to get through”. Additionally, he looked ahead to the visit of Carshalton Athletic on Saturday and concluded that “we (Wingate & Finchley) need to perform better than we have done today and on Saturday (vs Herne Bay)”.
Back-to-back home matches now await the boys in Blue. Carshalton Athletic and Kingstonian are next to come to town, on Saturday (now a 2pm kick-off) and Tuesday respectively. Valuable Wingate points are needed. And fast…