Saturday was the first game of the 2013/14 season for Wingate & Finchley. Although the fixtures list had been out for sometime, there had been an element of doubt about who we would play or even if the game would go ahead. In the closed season Thurrock had been relegated by the deduction of three points and Carshalton, who had finished below them in the table were reprieved as a result. The appeals process had dragged on until just over a week before the season was due to start. It can’t have been easy for Carshalton to prepare not knowing which division they would be playing in. They lost one of their key players following relegation, the excellent Nathaniel Pinney who went to Tonbridge Angels. If the Robins fans are to be believed, the chairman has cut costs back to the bare bones too. With this in mind I had high hopes for a first win of the season, giving Danny & Gavin a good start in their new roles.
I was also looking forward to Saturday for another reason – A Flickr friend was coming to visit. Paul Paxford aka Pitchside Photo had promised to drop in and I was pleased to greet him and share the occasional chat as our paths crossed during the match. Paul is a ground-hopping photographer and therefore has a different remit to me. Our modus operandi differ too – Paul prefering to get pitchside as his alias suggests whilst I prefer to be amongst the fans.
The game kicked off in glorious sunshine and The Blues were quickly in the ascendancy attacking down both wings and through the middle! Hector forced an excellent save from McEntegart having cut in from the left wing. The resulting corner saw Leon attempting an extravagant bicycle kick which imparted significantly more vertical component than goal bound movement to the ball. A heathrow inbound reported a UFO and the players had to wait a very long time for it to come down again 😉
Ola attacking down the right got wrong side of Robins defender Jordan Vidal – running into the box for a one-on-one with the keeper. The attempted tackle from behind in the area was clumsy as Vidal got plenty of Ola and nothing of the ball. The referee looked confused as if he’d never seen an obvious penalty before but eventually blew his whistle and pointed to the spot when he realised that his linesman was still flagging vigorously! Vidal got a yellow for his trouble but should have had a red – at least that’s what the laws of the game say and a similar tackle in the area by a Halifax defender in their Sunday match at Cambridge did result in a sending off. I’m sure the laws are the same in the Ryman League as they are in the Conference! Leon took charge of the ball and sent McEntegart the wrong way to score and give Wingate & Finchley the lead.
Pressure from the home side continued but Carshalton gradually found their way into the game and put together some attacks of their own. Bobby was forced to make a couple of good saves and by the half time it was looking like we urgently needed a second goal to steady the ship, especially as both Spencer McCall and Scott Shulton had received yellow cards for rash challenges and could easily have seen red cards on another day. The Robins also had a penalty appeal of their own turned down – the referee deeming it a six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other challenge.
The second half started brightly for The Blues. A corner was won in the 10th minute and the initial clearance only found Tommy Tejan-Sie on the left. He delivered a brisk cross that couldn’t have been at a better height for the loitering Weatherstone. Marc directed his header down and across the keeper to score in the bottom right of the goal. The skipper scoring in the first game of the season – was he pleased? you bet he was. Cue a major celebration on the pitch and a chorus of “Always take the Weathers’ with you” from the fans 🙂
From that point on it was largely downhill for The Robins though they had a good shout for a free kick on the edge of the area which the referee declined to give. Whilst the controversy continued at one end, Hector broke free at the other to strike cleanly past McEntegart to make it 3-0. The coup de grâce was delivered when substitutes Lairdy and Ahmet combined – Lairdy slotting a pass through that Ahmet coolly chipped over the advancing keeper to make the score 4-0 to The Blues. Wrighty was given a consolation yellow card near the end – probably for a dodgy haircut rather than a foul 😉
So, a great start to the season for Wingate & Finchley and we’re joint top of the league with local rivals Hendon who also won 4-0 at Thamesmead. On Tuesday we travel to Imber Court for another meeting with the Metropolitan Police – that will be more of a challenge I suggest although they were beaten at Enfield Town on Saturday.
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC. Please click on the Wingate & Finchley Badge to visit the Official Club Website.