Harrow Borough visited for our first league encounter on Tuesday evening. We played them twice last season in the Isthmian League Cup and the London Senior Cup. Both matches went to extra time and penalties, so it would appear that the teams were very evenly matched. During the summer break there had been the usual changes of personnel at both clubs, though not significantly at Wingate & Finchley. However, the two sides have had differing starts to the season. Whilst both teams have lost 4 matches, Wingate & Finchley have won 5 league games to Harrow’s 2. The Blues great start to the season has been followed by 4 defeats and a single win dropping us down from 1st to 10th spot in the table. In my previous post I suggested that even at this stage of the season this game would be a ‘must win’ for us.
There was a glorious sunset prior to the game but, once darkness settled, the sides took to the pitch on a cool dry evening with a gusty westerly wind. The Boro kicked off with a pass and a hoof into the distant corner ceding possession to the home side – why do teams do that? We’re always confused as to why you’d wantonly give the ball to the other side!
It became immediately apparent that both teams intended to attack and an entertaining if slightly scrappy game ensued. Forwards from both teams made forays into the area and Ola missed by inches with a curling shot. But it was Harrow’s J.J.Bates who got the breakthrough after 10 minutes – getting clear of our left back and shooting across Gavin into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
Given the recent run of losing results I wondered if the team’s heads would drop at this point – they certainly would have done 3 seasons ago. But those days are gone and have been replaced with a determination within the squad. 5 minutes later Leon was working his magic in the Harrow penalty area, drawing the whole back row to his side of the box. Mission accomplished, he laid the ball back to John Megicks who spun once to give himself a clear shot from the edge of the D and scored his first goal for The Blues, with a nice crisp strike into the top right corner beyond the reach of the Boro keeper.
Further attacks were masterminded by each team and Harrow took the lead again around 25 minutes into the half with a tap in from a scramble in the W & F penalty area. Wingate will regret not taking two gilt edged chances – one a clearance off the line by a Boro defender and the other a poor penalty from Ahmet that Nick Pope in the Harrow goal had no problem saving. Pope is currently on loan from Charlton Athletic and looks to be a fine keeper – he was probably Harrow’s man-of-the-match. Halftime and The Blues, trailing by a single goal, retired to the dressing room – I popped to the shop for a quick bite.
The second half saw both teams step up the quality and the pace of their football. Leon had a great chance for us but, after again running the defence ragged, put a gentle-paced shot too close to the in-form Pope. An equaliser was conjured, literally out of the air, when Marc Weatherstone leapt to head home a floating corner from Ross Parmenter. It’s his third headed league goal of the season – an area of his game that he has been working on and which the manager is allowing him to use by letting him come up for corners. The total for the season is 4 but the first one was in a friendly – it feels a little strange to look back at the official report from that match against Uxbridge where the goal is recorded as ‘Marc Weatherstone scored a rare header’! Hopefully Marc will score many more in forthcoming matches. You can hear what he thinks of it all and this game against Harrow on Wingate TV.
Both teams had chances in the latter part of the half as they tried to carve out a winner. Ola got a great run on the Boro defence but failed to spot a pass to Ahmet that would have put him clean through on goal – a few paces further and the chance was gone. It’s easy for us fans to see these things and especially me with the photos to check afterwards but it must be difficult when running with the ball to spot every opportunity that comes your way so this is an observation rather than a criticism. Anyway, despite all their best efforts neither team could convert a chance in the closing stages and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. There was some debate amongst The Blues fans as to whether we should have won it or take a draw as a fair result. I’m with Weathers on this one – a fair result though we’d have liked the 3 points. It seems that last season’s close cup matches were a good barometer for this season’s league games between the two sides.
There are two Martin’s involved in some activities for the club – me and Martin Stephens. To avoid confusion, we’re usually referred to as Camera Martin and Web Martin – though I don’t doubt that some less complimentary names are used on occasion 🙂 On Saturday we play Aveley at home and Web Martin has put together this nice piece of artwork based on the iconic Reservoir Dogs poster to stir up excitement for the forthcoming game…
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.