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Spoils shared in the midst of a playoff fight

The mission on Tuesday night against Hastings was simple: Don’t Lose. 

Given the state of the playoff race right now, with likely only two out of Horsham, Hastings, and the Blues to qualify for the end of season tournament, a draw maintains the seven point gap to Hastings with three games to play, though the Us do have a game in hand against Potters Bar. 

On the surface then, it’s Mission Accomplished. A draw would probably have been taken by the majority of the fanbase before kickoff, and so a point at this stage in the season is definitely a positive.

It’s a point made even sweeter by the sheer quality of the opposition that turned up on Tuesday evening. We’ve seen Hornchurch, National League South side Farnborough, Chatham, and Enfield at this ground over the course of the season, and based on the small sample that we saw on Tuesday night, Hastings looked to be the best of the lot. Their passing was crisp, their movement sharp, and their tenacity immense, as they seemingly managed to get a foot in at every potential moment of danger for the Blues. Even when reduced to 10 men after Freddie Legg dived in recklessly on Ben Frempah when the ball got away from him, they still looked more than capable of scoring.

In truth, they should have won the game. 

The fact they didn’t is testament to the superb workrate from the Blues from minute 1 to minute 97, hassling, jockeying, fighting in aerial battles, and putting their bodies on the line for the cause, laying out to make blocks and saves. 

Will Seager made at least one crucial block, Alex Solomon cleared one off the line, and Ben Goode made a series of key saves to keep the ball out of the back of the net. The effort and desire has not gone unnoticed by the fanbase, and it may turn out to be a vital rearguard effort when all is said and done this year.

We’ll have to wait and see the full extent of the defensive effort, however. After Ahmet Biler had already missed the game due to a quad injury sustained at home to Potters Bar, both Will Seager and Matty Achuba had to make way early in the second half. With no more Tuesday fixtures this season, the hope is that there will be time for fitness to be regained, but it is a point worth watching as we move forward. 

The point is also testament to two fantastic goals. Alex Solomon started the scoring in the first half after bursting forward from his RWB position to get himself in the box, and in a position to rocket one into the top corner. It was similar to his goal against Potters Bar on Easter Monday, and the recent goals are a nice addition to his game, proving not only that he can keep the ball out of his own net, but that given enough space, he can deposit it equally proficiently into the opposition’s. 

The second goal was the 6th example of Ruben Carvalho’s free-kick-taking brilliance we’ve seen this season. He bent the ball around the wall and keeper and into the side of the net as the first half wore down, and gave the Blues a 2-0 lead. And he very nearly did the same in the second half, bending one just wide this time of the same right hand post. 

The goals seemed to enrage the Us, who created plenty of chances both with 11 men and with 10. The fact that they only managed to score twice is in no small part to Goode & co., who are quickly becoming a complete defensive unit both at home and away after another game of some superb defensive efforts. Hastings will no doubt be frustrated to have left North London with only a point to show for their dominance, but it means the playoff race is well and truly alive.


The equation for the Blues is simple: 6 points and you’re in. 

With three games left: Haringey (H); Margate (A); Carshalton (H), we will have to fight for every inch, but it is in our hands this close to the end of the season. 

The fact that it remains in our hands is thanks to a spectacular run of form that we’re in the middle of right now, with just one defeat in our last 13 games, dating back to the defeat at Dulwich in January. We’ve won four of our last six, and so confidence should be high as we look to close out the season strongly and get our name in the hat for the lottery that is the playoffs. 

We know that the playing staff are up for the fight, and you can do your part by getting behind your local team as we make the final push. Haringey visit the Maurice Rebak stadium on Saturday, and we round out the campaign with the visit of Carashalton on April 27th. Don’t miss out as we enter the final weeks of the year. 

Wingate & Finchley: Goode; Seager (Ifil 56’); Cracknell; Frimpong; Frempah; Achuba (Bani 52’); Solomon; Carvalho; Chukwu; Long (Newton 81’); Hernandez

Unused Subs: Webb; Deslandes


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