Of all the predicted results this afternoon between Wingate & Finchley and Cray Wanderers, a 1-0 home victory would not have been top of the list.
The home side came in off the back of two defeats in 4 days on the road, while the visitors came to North London holding the best away record in the league.
But 1-0 was the way it finished thanks to a deflected freekick from left-back Ben Siggers. The ball had been placed on the right corner of the box, and Siggers stepped up to steer the ball round the wall and nestle it into the keeper’s left hand post.
It was no less than the home side had deserved after a positive first 15 minutes - worlds apart from the away performances of the week. They looked assured on the ball, took the space that was given to them in midfield, and managed to keep the opposition moving, not allowing themselves to be hemmed into one side of the pitch.
The goal really boosted the confidence of the hosts, and tricky winger Antonis Vasiliou almost extended the lead with a good run through the midfield, one of many on the day, but could only place his finish over the crossbar.
The visitors, for their part also looked threatening, twice coming close. The first time, Ben Goode in the Wingate goal was called into action to smother a shot from 7 yards out and deflect it behind for a corner after some neat interplay down the Cray right.
Minutes later, a similar shot from a similar position for the visitors this time was fired harmlessly over.
Cray built themselves into the game as the first half progressed, and the second half proved to be more of the same. Given the space to play in front of Wingate, they were able to create a number of chances with little reply from the Blues.
The best of those fell on the 54th minute, when some pinball in the home side’s six yard box gave Cray a clear sight of goal, only for Ola Williams, deputising at centre half for the hosts, to pull off a superb block to preserve the score line.
Ben Goode was also called into action in the second half, twice from free kicks just outside the area. Both times he was required to make full length saves, and both times he passed the test with flying colours.
The Wingate back three seemed to be continually heading the ball away from danger for the second half, but head the ball away they did with assurance. Twice the visitors had penalty shouts, and twice they were denied by the referee, much to the chagrin of a Cray side who became increasingly desperate as the second half wore on.
But 1-0 it finished against the odds, with Ben Goode and the Wingate back three imperious in their defence all afternoon, to ensure that Wingate and Finchley took all 6 points from Cray after their two meetings this season.
It will be a confidence boost for the home side, who welcome in-form Hornchurch to the Maurice Rebak stadium on Tuesday night, before a big derby game away at Enfield next Saturday.
By Chris Cummings