After several away friendly matches, Wingate & Finchley finally came home on Wednesday evening with a choice fixture against League 2 Wycombe Wanderers. In truth, this was really an opportunity for both clubs to give their youngsters some experience. The Wanderers turned out their youth development side and included a couple of trialists in the starting line up. Wingate fielded a side with a mix of regular first team players and players from last season’s successful youth squad.
For those unfamiliar with Football, I should perhaps explain that the objective of friendly matches is to bring players back up to speed and develop their ‘Match Fitness’ before the season proper kicks off. It also gives the Manager a chance to see how the formation is settling down. The players had already played a number of away friendlies, starting off in Wales. They were narrowly defeated by Welsh Champions, The New Saints, who were preparing for a Champions League qualifying match against Helsingborg and also lost against Prestatyn. Why Wales you may ask? Because our manager, David Norman, used to play for The New Saints and Llansantffraid as well as being player-manager at Oswestry, so he has a lot of connections there.
The match was quite an open affair and both sides manufactured chances in the first half on a mild evening with intermittent sunshine. A new lad in the number 7 shirt whose name I have yet to find out put in some good efforts early on and can consider himself unlucky not ot have scored having embarrassed the Wycombe keeper by nicking the ball from his gloves. Leon missed out on a goal when he struck the ball against the keeper at close range and hit the rebound towards goal only to see it hit the post when he was almost close enough to touch it back in… just inches in it! Eventually Murat struck to give the home side the lead but not before the visitors had nearly scored at the other end when a deep cross found a Wanderers striker and he struck a shot that forced Bobby Smith into a smart save at the near post. Clearly Bobby’s up to speed but the cameraman is lacking in match fitness – despite being in the ideal spot I missed it
The second half was more of the same and W & F doubled their lead just a few minutes into the half when a smart cut back from the byline found Leon on the edge of the area and he made no mistake in firing it home. Wycombe fought hard in the latter stages of the half and could have scored in the last minute when their number 9 got the better of Bobby and Kieron in the area only to see the looping chip headed off the line by Wrighty.
Keiron and Wrighty looked sharp as did Bobby. Leon and Murat also looked sharp although Leon did look a bit flat-footed occasionally to my photographer’s eye – it didn’t stop him spotting me and giving a wink and a thumbs up Marc Henry didn’t look too bad either in the midfield and did some good tracking back towards the end of the second half. The youngsters looked like they were ready to step up to the plate, especially the number 7. Danny Neilson, the skipper, looked just like Danny Neilson – time doesn’t seem to change him! As for the manager – he sounded hoarse. I wonder if he’s got that nasty little virus that’s going around at the moment