July and a typical British summer; One week chill winds and thunderstorms, the next blazing sunshine. And, of course, various other types of weather in between! It’s the time of test matches, the sensuous rubbing of red balls on white trousers and members nodding off in the stands. Then suddenly the calm and tranquillity of willow striking leather and the clink of ice cubes in glasses of Pimms is joined by other sounds more redolent of the British Winter – the solid thunk of boot on ball and the shrill peep of a whistle.
The new football season seems to start ever earlier, particularly so in Scotland where they seem to have two seasons rolled into one. Last Saturday saw the first of the Scottish Premier League matches. On the Non-League front, there are still 4 weeks until the first real matches kick off. But before that come the friendlies.
For Wingate & Finchley this process began 6 weeks before the start of the season with a game against Maccabi GB which resulted in a draw. Next up were Cockfosters who were defeated 2-1 in a game played at The Hive, Barnet FC’s training ground. A training camp in Spain resulted in a narrow 3-2 defeat by the Gibraltar National XI – not a bad result.
Back in England and the next match was a bit unusual – two games kicking off at the same time against Haringey Borough FC and Broxbourne Borough FC. I guess that we currently have an increased squad and the manager wanted to give as many as possible a run out. (There is another twin game Saturday planned for the 6th of August). Anyway, I decided that my first attendance for this season would be at the Broxbourne match.
The team featured a mix of some of last season’s first team and some new faces. The defence was Danny Neils’ and Weathers in the centre with flex player Sam Robins at right back and a new player I don’t know yet on the left. Bobby was in goal, with Lairdy and Murat forming the main strike partnership. Josh was in midfield with some other players that I didn’t recognise. Broxbourne Borough, who play in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, also had some new signings on show so it must have been a similar case of who’s that? for their supporters.
Wingate & Finchley started well but Broxbourne dragged their way into the game and had the better of the last 20 minutes of the first half. They started the stronger in the second half and took the lead after around 10 minutes when a cross into the box saw our defence caught flat footed and their number 11 smacked the ball home from the edge of the 6 yard box, giving Bobby no chance.
Wingate & Finchley then upped their game and successfully manufactured some good opportunities, two of which were put away by David Laird – the second a delightful looping header across the goal and into the net beyond the diving keeper’s reach.
All-in-all it was a bit of an up and down performance but the players have still got to learn each other’s strengths and gel together as a team. It’s a normal single game on Tuesday when W & F travel to Oxhey Jets so perhaps we’ll see something closer to the Manager’s preferred starting eleven then – though with another twin game day planned and our top scorer currently unavailable due to illness I suspect it will be another suck-it and see side!
A quick footnote – it was great to see ex-Wingate & Finchley striker Dean Williams in action for Broxbourne (for whom he recently signed). Always a favourite with the fans at W & F, I hope Deano has a successful season 🙂
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.