On Thursday night Wingate & Finchley met Ryman Premier side Tooting & Mitcham in a semi-final of the London Senior Cup. Already through to the final of the Ryman League Cup after a bit of a nail-biter against Maldon & Tiptree, we were hoping the team could reach another final and increase our chances of some silverware after a very long barren spell.
If the support at the Maldon game had been sparse with Arsenal playing in the Champions League on the same night, the massed ranks of fans from the southern end of the Northern Line were a joy to see – I guess there aren’t too many Man City supporters in London! Actually, it was quite interesting watching our Man Utd fans watching the City match on TV before our game kicked off – I wonder what they were wishing for?
Fellow Photter Ben put in a late appearance just before kick-off – always good to see him as it doubles the coverage of a match and we usually get different shots as we have slightly different styles 🙂
What can I say about the game? Alan had clearly watered the pitch before the match (leaving blooming great puddles on some of the standing areas I might add) and this made the surface fast and good for a passing game. And that is what both teams settled down to do. W&F had the best of it and took the lead early on with a slightly lucky goal for Lewis – his strike coming back off the keeper which allowed him to execute a lob into the goal! The football was flowing and moved briskly from end to end without either side making too many more chances. Tooting had a good chance from a corner that drew a spectacular diving save from Bobby to prevent an equaliser -I think that may have been the turning point in the game. As the half went on, Jordan had an unpleasant tete-a-tete with Ahmet as they both went for the same ball – Ahmet’s head is hard as nails (rumour has it that he can stop a tank with his forehead) and Jordan looked a bit sore as he walked off with the physio for treatment!
I’m pleased to report that the halftime brawl against Maldon was not repeated and the players made an orderly procession into the changing rooms to hear their manager’s words of wisdom. In fact, if there hadn’t been a ‘handbags’ between Jordan and a Tooting player which Ahmet then decided to involve himself with, we might have got through the half without any cards at all! Anyway a peaceful end to the half – That’s a relief…
The second half started with a flurry of activity from Tooting though the W&F defence held and their attempts on goal were largely from outside the box. Wingate got on the attack and the Tooting number 4 Hasim Deen brought down, I think, Wrighty (it was over the other side of the pitch and the lights ain’t that good) and earned himself a yellow – shame because I felt he was their best player on the night. Sadly he would depart before the end with an injury.
It was, once again, Lewis who intercepted a back header and beat the keeper in the resulting one on one. I must apologise for not capturing his goals on camera, but if he will insist on scoring them while I’m up the other end… 😉 The rest of the half saw the introduction of Leon and Lairdy up front to compound the visitor’s misery. Leon taunted one of the defenders with a great display of footwork, to the point where the defender hacked him down in frustration and drew a straight red from the referee. A great nod forward from Leon again gave Lairdy the clear space to run through on goal and he easily defeated the keeper who seems to have lost track of where the centre of his goal was as Lairdy bore down on him. And that was that – a great 3-0 victory in which all sections of the W&F team had played a key role.
The celebrations on the pitch were great to watch and photograph – as the fans applauded a very special performance from the team. You could see what the result meant to them all, but especially Ola!
So there we were – through to the Final in a second cup competition and ecstatic about it. Enjoying a St.Patrick’s Day Guinness with Noel and congratulating each of the players as they filed in from the changing room. Talking with Niels’ afterwards though highlighted the one downside… our priority remains making the league playoffs and hopefully getting promotion to the Ryman Premier – So his thoughts were already on Saturday’s game against Great Wakering. It’s one where we must get maximum points because it’s getting very tight at the top of the division. Thanks for bringing us down to earth Danny Neils’ 🙂
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.