…and no points either 😦
Wingate & Finchley had last weekend off, in common with a lot of other clubs, to allow for the celebration of the Jewish holy festival of Yom Kippur. So we go back over a week to the 1st of August for a much belated report of the match against AFC Hornchurch. Coming on the back of a hammering by Billericay Town the previous Tuesday,we travelled to The Bridge Stadium in the hope of a better performance and a positive result. It’s a long drag by Underground from East Finchley, taking over an hour and a half, and on a baking hot autumn day I was glad that we’d left adequate time to make our way to the stadium at the other end without rushing.
The Stadium is one of those shared facilities with a running track round the outside of the football pitch. This means that the supporters are further away from the play and it tends to kill some of the atmosphere. The pitch itself was in very good condition which promised the opportunity to play some flowing football. The bar is nicely set up above one end of the pitch and affords good views of the action – could be ideal in bad weather! It was here that I bumped in to Noel who was busily testing the quality of the local Guinness – He feels it is an essential part of his duties to check the quality of the Guinness wherever we go. I decided that I’d offer him a second pint and a second opinion before the kick-off 😉
With the match underway we were treated to differing styles of play with The Urchins mainly choosing to hoof the ball forwards while Wingate & Finchley tried the passing and running game. The effect was a cancelling out of each teams efforts with little in the way of crunching challenges in the middle of the field to attract the photographer. In fact, with only a couple of exceptions, it would be a match of nothing-shots photographically. Hornchurch had two good chances late in the half, one saved by Gavin with a brave piece of keeping – diving at the feet of the Urchins striker.
The second half saw Hornchurch take to the field like they had a cattle-prod being waved at them from the dugout. Now playing a more passing style they earned a free kick outside the area. The resulting strike on goal must have taken a slight deflection because Gavin found himself diving under the ball and raised his left hand to paw it away. It fell to Hornchurch’s Frankie Curley who passed it with the outside of his boot to Ricky Hayles, who was in an off-side position, to tap in. The linesman missed it but the camera didn’t. The Wingate players appealed for the off-side but it wasn’t given and The Urchins had the lead. It was one of those tight decisions that required the linesman to be perfectly positioned for the best view and to have courage in his convictions. Looking through the viewfinder I instantly knew it was off-side but then I was standing close to where the linesman should have been but wasn’t. When you’re going through a bad patch, as we are currently, luck tends to desert you and marginal decisions always seem to go against you. I’ve heard TV pundits or losing managers suggesting that dodgy decisions will even themselves out over the course of a season – I suspect that is a very good example of wishful thinking. If they are right though we’re owed a few that go our way at the moment!
The Blues pulled themselves back into the action and tried to get back on level terms. An excellent chance fell to Leon with a one-on-one with the keeper – normally he’d have either rounded the keeper or chipped him once he’d gone to ground. This time I don’t know what happened – the chip became a full blown shot that was blasted over the crossbar. When things aren’t going your way and you’re having a losing run, betting certainties become outsiders and players whose touch is usually excellent find that they have lost the feel altogether 😦 There were no other real attempts on goal except for a shot that went a couple of feet high and wide from Ahmet after he came on as a sub. The game petered out and we retired to the bar to check that the quality of the Guinness hadn’t dropped in our absence.
After the match the players seemed in reasonable spirits. It was an OK performance and but for a bad decision we would have earned a point. There was plenty of time to regroup as the next game was over a week away. I hope the time has been put to good use as we prepare to face Harrow Borough tomorrow night. Although it’s early in the season, dare I say – this has become a ‘must win’ game.
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.