Wingate & Finchley, having successfully grabbed a 0 – 1 win away at Hastings on Saturday faced Lowestoft Town at home on Tuesday. By all accounts, Hastings had a bad game and that may have aided the positive result. However a match against the Trawlerboys was always likely to be a real test for our team – they went through Division 1 North of the Ryman League like a dose of salts, finishing top and runaway winners in their first season! So a good performance against them could be a bellwether for the coming season. Anyway, the Trawlerboys duly arrived along with quite a few fans – a good turn out considering the distance and it being a mid-week evening game.
For some reason the teams were late coming out of the tunnel, delaying the kick-off slightly. I guess that the managers had longer than usual pep-talks to give before the game. As they ran out onto the pitch one of the fans said to me, ‘The ref’s a woman’. My initial thoughts were that the ref was known for blowing-up at the least little offence but, no, we really did have a female referee. I think we’ve had one once before but they’re still a rare part of the game.
The game got off to a really good start for the home side. I barely had time to set up the camera before Leon Smith burst free of the Lowestoft defenders and rounded the keeper to slot home on around the 9th minute! It was a classic Smudger single handed effort though I think the keeper could have stayed on his feet a little longer to make it harder 🙂
The game then became an end to end tussle with lots of good attacking football and chances for both teams. Perhaps because of the damp weather or maybe a pre-conceived gameplan, there was quite a bit of head tennis – something which continued through both halves of the match. Surprising as both teams play good passing football. However, there was still lots of quality football to enjoy as the players went about their business.
Things got better for the home side around the 23rd minute when Murat ran onto a lofted pass into the area and smacked the ball home on the half volley between two closing defenders, giving the Trawlerboys keeper no chance.
The end-to-end football continued to the end of the half with more chances for both sides. But, with no further goals, it was a tale of one side taking their chances while the other squandered theirs, though I should add that Bobby pulled off a couple of excellent saves to prevent Lowestoft from getting on the scoresheet.
A swift visit to the bar and then back out for the second half. It quickly became clear that the manager had administered the verbal equivalent of Fishermans Friend to the Trawlersboys at half-time and they were now hot stuff. They really grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and wave after wave of attacks washed onto the beach of the Wingate penalty area. W & F did get some attacking options but it was usually on the counter and often broke down as passes were intercepted by Lowestoft players. Despite all the attacks, the defence held firm until the 75th minute when a brave diving header by Lowestoft’s Michael Frew took the ball off the toe of Weathers’ boot and past Bobby’s desparate attempt to block at the near post.
It was more of the same for the rest of the half. Jordan was brought on to earn his customary yellow card, though he put in some sterling work in the defence – producing a number of great clearing headers. Lairdy came on up front to hold up the ball but was denied the opportunity as the ball rarely got that far forward and he too got a yellow card for a poor tackle born out of frustration. It was ‘Backs to the wall – Divided we fall’ time. But the team held firm, playing for each other. As Lowestoft struggled to find a division in the massed ranks of blue the clock ticked ever slower for the Wingate fans until it finally staggered to the final whistle. I can’t remember the last time that 20 minutes have taken so long to pass!
The Lowestoft fans, true to form, were magnanimous in defeat declaring that they needed to start faster in future and praising the efforts of both teams in a great match. We parted wishing them a safe journey home and good luck for the rest of the season – they will, of course, get the chance of revenge when we travel to their home on New Years Eve. I hope the Fish and Chip shops will be open 🙂
I hope that the resolve shown by our players in this match is a good omen for performances during the rest of the season. Two wins out of two and amazingly we find ourselves top of the table – that has to be good for morale!
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.