Winning three league games on the bounce is not a feat that can easily be repeated in this division or any. In fact, today’s win against Herne Bay was that elusive third win on the spin, unbelievably the first time it has happened to this club in around five years! Today’s performance backs up victories against Brightlingsea and Potters Bar over the last 7 days, and with just Carshalton remaining in the league next week (who fell 3-0 when they came to North London earlier in the season) today’s result has left the squad looking very much up rather than down.
They started the brighter of the two sides, and looked very keen to take advantage of the space that was being offered to them by Herne Bay, themselves needing three points and other results to go their way to stay in the division. They were guilty of allowing too many balls into the penalty box to start the game, and although none fell to a Wingate head, it was perhaps an omen of what was to come.
In fact, what was to come was a cool finish from Manny Yeboah, starting in a more advanced position this week. The ball fell to him on the left edge of the area, and he managed to bend the ball around the goalkeeper, via a defender’s outstretched leg, to nestle the ball in the right hand corner.
One soon became two when Dylan Kearney found a parting in the Herne Bay defence that saw him with acres of space. He did excellently to draw the last man, before squaring the ball to Elliot Long (a role reversal from their combination on Monday against Potters Bar), sending the young attacker through on goal. Long kept his calm, waiting for the keeper to make the first move, before placing the ball in the far corner.
Wingate didn’t have it all their own way, however. Herne Bay, their season on the line, managed to pull one back just before half time with a long, lifted corner that drifted over the defenders, allowing Connor Dymond to head home from point blank range, and with a newfound sense of belief, it was very much Herne Bay on top as the half time whistle blew.
Coming out for the second half at 2-1, you felt the game could go one of two ways. Wingate could easily have crumbled in the face of a desperate opposition, back in the game, with everything to play for and nothing to lose. Or they could assert themselves on a game that was going to give them chances, grabbing the three points that were very much on the table. You’ll know by now that they very emphatically chose the second option.
There wasn’t really a clear cut chance for the visitors to speak of in the second half, such was the assertiveness of Wingate. They repeatedly got themselves in good positions, and the pressure told for a third time, with newly elected Fans’ and Players’ player of the season Elliot Long picking up his second on the day, this time with his head as he headed the ball down and under goalkeeper Perrin from Luke Ifil’s cross. The goalie won’t want to see replays of the goal, but take nothing away from Long’s finish.
You could feel the elastic break in that moment, as the task of 4 goals in 10 minutes to avoid relegation was too much for the away side. They quickly shipped a fourth, this time from Mike Olarewaju, and again from a cross. This time it was a corner from Ben Siggers towards the back post, where Olarewaju rose highest to head the ball back towards goal and over the goalkeeper. Sammy Ompreon got his head to the ball to confirm the result, but the ball looked to already be over the line. It’s tough to call, but in the absence of a Dubious Goals Committee, it will have to stay as Olarewaju’s goal.
Overall, it was a complete 90 minutes from the Blues, and a nice way to sign off at home for the year. The season hasn’t been all their own way, but a third win from three confirmed to the more than 200 in attendance that there is great potential in this team, and all will have to be excited for what is to come next term.
The season closes away at Carshalton next Saturday.
By Chris Cummings