Season’s End – Aftermath

Today we can reflect on yesterday’s final games of the Isthmian League season. There was change in the play-off places as we beat Hornchurch, demoting them to 4th and handing home advantage to Enfield Town – I think The Towners owe us a beer 😂 It was a good battling performance with defender Jake…

Hornchurch 1 vs Wingate & Finchley 2 (2021/22)

…scoring our winner early in the second half👍 But as I foretold yesterday, all eyes were on what was happening at the foot of the table. And, in the unusual circumstances of the reshaping of the leagues by the FA, everyone had to watch the key Salisbury vs Kings Langley game in the Southern League Premier South as well. Peter, our kitman, was keeping us up to date as best possible as we watched our own match and I made sporadic clattering sounds with the camera shutter😉

All of our 4 lowest teams knew they needed a win because if Kings Langley were able to overturn Salisbury… I’ll let that one hang🤣 Cray Wanderers took an unexpected lead against Bishops Stortford but ultimately would lose 3-1. Merstham and Carshalton are near neighbours so, although Carshalton had nothing to play for, it was expected to be a battle for bragging rights. Merstham lost 2-1. East Thurrock played well against us last Saturday and came back from 2 goals down for a deserved draw. If any team should have been able to beat the drop it was them, but they met Cray on Wednesday and were beaten 4-1. Playing at home against an erratic Horsham team, I thought they should be able to get a draw and even push on for a win. But, in the end, Horsham snatched an injury time winner and the game ended 3-2 to the visitors. Leatherhead had the easiest final game, at home to Potters Bar. Before the kick-off I predicted that Potters would capitulate and I was proved right with Leatherhead finishing 2-0 winners.

Over in the Southern League, what was happening with Kings Langley? They took a 1-0 lead on the 16th minute. Salisbury should have equalised with a penalty on the 77th minute when Kings Langley were reduced to 10 men – presumably for a bad challenge in the area? Kings Langley’s keeper saved! Then, having weathered the storm with 10 men, ‘Langley pinched a 2nd in the 91st minute. That was a 2-0 win and gave them 37 points.

The effect of Kings Langley’s win was devastating. Merstham and East Thurrock were already relegated as a result of their last day defeats. A quick note here about Merstham. When they came to visit us on the 18th for the penultimate game of the season, they were clearly a depleted side. They didn’t even have a Physio with them. So I guess they were already bowing to a sense of inevitability? East Thurrock paid the penalty for a poor performance at Cray though they came close to getting a win against Horsham that would have sent Cray down instead.

Leatherhead were the ultimate victims of Kings Langley’s success – Langley had a point more and better goal difference so the win against Potters Bar was a just a final gesture of defiance to close out the season. Relegated, they were immediately posting a ‘Schwarzenegger’ “We’ll be back” on Twitter😎

So, the season is done and dusted and it’s all over bar the shouting… Not necessarily so. Leatherhead might yet get a reprieve. The Leagues and the FA will now begin grading and shuffling. Clubs will look at whether they can really afford to go up to the next level and people who fund some clubs may decide to take their money away. All of these can result in teams not being where they were expected to be and other teams having their relegation quashed. At the end of the 2013/14 season Wingate & Finchley were relegated from the Isthmian Premier. Rumours were already going round though that we would probably get a reprieve. The reason – Worksop Town had lost their main means of finance and took the decision to withdraw from the Conference North. It cascaded down to us being restored to the Isthmian Premier. So, it’s not impossible that Leatherhead may also be back a little sooner than they currently expect… We shall see…

Last Monday, after our match vs Merstham, we had the Annual Awards night. The Supporters Player of the Season and the Players Player of the Season coincided. It was left to Gavin, our Goalkeeping Coach and a previous recipient of both, to present the players trophy to Ben Goode – our current Goalkeeper…

Wingate & Finchley Awards Night (2021/22)

…and here’s Ben showing what he does best – a great save against Hornchurch on Saturday to close out his season…

Hornchurch 1 vs Wingate & Finchley 2 (2021/22)

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