By Chris Cummings
It was a frosty night at the Maurice Rebak, where some late drama at both ends of the pitch ensured it was a point apiece for two teams who really could have done with three.
After an afternoon pitch inspection was passed, the sides showed up ready to get back in action after multiple postponements over the last few weeks. That eagerness translated itself onto the pitch, where both teams passed the ball nicely, trying to get themselves into the game.
The Blues will have been the happier of the sides after the first 15 minutes, but their momentum was halted after a seemingly well-timed challenge from Olarewaju in his own box was deemed to be a foul by the referee. Iker Noguera Leon, the visitors’ brightest spark on a cold evening, kept his cool and fired the resulting penalty down the middle to put the visitors into the lead.
Wingate and Finchley fought straight back and carved out a number of opportunities through some neat play from Antonis Vasiliou. It was he who set up the game’s equaliser, a wicked ball into the six yard box, where Alkeo Bani had gotten ahead of his man, and managed to steer his header beyond the keeper and into the far corner; a deserved goal for the midfielder who was an excellent and dominating presence in the middle of the pitch all night.
It was no less than the hosts deserved and after a couple more half-chances, most notably a miskicked volley from Kearney from the penalty spot that rolled tamely into the hands of the keeper, the hosts went into the break on the ascendancy and unlucky not the be in the lead.
The visitors were more organised in the second-half, as temperatures plummeted, and the first 20 minutes were a scrap to gain the upper hand.
The action was saved for the last 15 minutes however. The first clear chance fell to Luke Ifil, who found himself through on goal from the right channel. His golden opportunity was well parried by the goalkeeper diving to his left, and Ifil’s follow up was cleared off the line by the retreating defence.
If the Blues were frustrated not to be ahead, this was compounded by a quick break from the visitors in the 87th minute, which allowed Great Evans to bear down on goal and slot his chance into Ben Goode’s far corner. 2-1.
Things went from bad to worse, after an altercation off the ball between Daniel Emovon and Nogeura Leon saw the Wingate man push his opposite number to the ground, for which the referee brandished a straight red card and sent the hosts down to 10 men in injury time at the end of the second half.
But the action didn’t stop there. After throwing 4 men up front, including the imperious Olarewaju, the hosts managed to win the ball on the right flank, where Ifil’s ball into the middle was bundled home at close range by the big centre-half who made up for his supposed indiscretion in the first half. It was no less than the home side deserved, having fought well against both the opposition and the conditions.
That’s three 2-2 draws against this opponent this season, and it leaves the Blues in 18th, with a huge game away at Margate coming up on Saturday. They are next at home on 4th February, when high-flying Cray Wanderers visit the MRS.