The football season continues and we continue to grow as a side – each member of the team learning about his colleagues abilities. After the draws against Bowers and Pitsea and Kingstonian we faced a difficult FA Cup tie against Welwyn Garden City. Although they play in the level below us this could not be construed as an easy draw – there’s a reason why we usually arrange a pre-season game against them! The first half was nip and tuck with both sides trying to find and exploit weaknesses. Although Wingate & Finchley shaded proceedings, Welwyn had a couple of very good chances. Here’s skipper Shane Gore smothering one of them…The second period was a different affair. Some crisp passing by the home side saw youngster Alphonso Kennedy running onto a well placed pass and firing home under pressure from a defender – his first goal for Wingate…
…giving a 1-0 lead on the 50th minute.

The Blues defended well while manufacturing more attacks on the break. Frustration boiled over in the opposition dugout and the referee had to send the Welwyn Manager to the stand…… – for his lack of fashion sense, or so rumour has it 😉 Finally, the home side made the game safe in injury time when Olu Oluwatimilehin scored after some well thought out play by Tee-Jay and Layne Eadie set him up for a simple finish. Here’s Tee-Jay checking out the options as he ran forward with the ball……while a group of our fans look on in anticipation. That concluded the scoring and running out 2-0 winners see’s The Blues set to meet London Colney in the next round.

Bank Holiday Monday and a home game against old friends and rivals Haringey Borough. This was a league game and we were lying 20th after the first two draws that I reported in my last post and an embarrassingly heavy 5-0 defeat to bogey team Bognor Regis the previous weekend. The less said about that one the better except that we kept a clean sheet through the 1st half, only to collapse in the second. I know our manager, Steve, is working on building the team’s resilience and this game against top of the table Haringey was going to probably be a marker of how that work is progressing.

This was another game of a battling first half. Gorey was called into action early on to make a key save and keep the visitors out……At the other end Tony Mendy had two good efforts on goal that Boro’s highly regarded keeper Pajetet……was able to keep out. Another stalemate of a first half but some good football from both sides.

The second half saw the Finchley boys create a couple of good chances and Boro also attacking before Kennedy once more found the net after being put through by Olu with a well timed pass – 1-0 to Wingate! What followed was a mix of amazing and confusing. Roman, brought on for Mendy, raced through on goal and looked to round the keeper. Here’s a before and after shot…
…So often we see incidents like this where the striker is diving in an attempt to win a penalty without any contact being made. In fact, at the time, most of us (including me) thought that the penalty awarded by the ref was wrong. The keeper came very close to earning himself a yellow card for arguing his innocence with the ref. I don’t get the chance to check the photos while the game is going on and I can’t see what’s on the screen without my glasses anyway! In the aftermath however when processing I finally got to see the truth and can only say how impressed I am with the referee’s judgement. Sitting between those two shots above is this one……The keeper has literally grabbed hold of the players’ boot as he ran past to stop him scoring. So, what looked like a dive was a genuine penalty. For the record, each shot is one 10th of a second apart. We contrived to miss the penalty and it was left to Shane to pull off another wonder save like the one at the start of the game to ensure our first win of the season!

So, we’re slowly gathering some points and have crept up the table. More tough games to come with Hornchurch and Merstham coming up. But lots of positives at present. To celebrate I dug out a very old shot of Steve when he was last with us, back in 2012, and posted it on Twitter……A few less grey hairs back then 😉

The new football season is finally underway for Wingate & Finchley and Manager, Steve Clarke. The last few weeks have seen upheaval with a number of new players joining the squad. Many of them are young, although one older head has been brought in. We have retained several of the longer serving members of the team such as Ahmet and Tee-Jay but sadly we have said goodbye to Rob Laney, and Ola. I will miss them both very much although we’ll be keeping in touch via twitter. In Ola’s case we’ll also meet up in the league as he has found a spot with Cheshunt FC 🙂 Also departing after the first match of the season was Charlie Cole – Sad to see him go too.

Our first match was away to Bowers & Pitsea who are newly promoted to the division. The wind contrived to make it a dour match that was brightened by a beautiful 25yd strike from new player Olu – scoring a goal on his debut and one of that quality saw a deserved celebration……Meanwhile Ahmet was able to renew aquaintance with ex-Wingate players Quentin Monville and (looking on) David Knight……David was to score an equaliser for Bowers in the second half and the overall consensus was that 1-1 was a fair result for both sides.

On Tuesday evening we were at home to Kingstonian. On the 3rd minute it was Tee-Jay’s turn to strike a screamer to give us the lead – something that I was not in a position to get anything of although I did get a photo of Ahmet and Olu running to congratulate him!..…and that was almost Ahmet’s last action in the game – he was sent off for a second bookable offence after three rash challenges. That left the ten men with 70 minutes of defending to do. One of the strikers had to be sacrificed to shore up the midfield, so Tony Mendy was withdrawn and Tanasheh came on. Early in the second half Sean Cronin contrived to mis-direct a header back to Shane Gore in goal – putting it just inside the top corner out of the keepers reach – at which point Kingstonian were level. But despite their best efforts they were unable to force a winner with great defensive work by W&F – here’s Luke dealing with one of their attempts with Shane and Sean watching on……Then, in the 5th minute of Injury time (Don’t know where the Ref got that amount from!), Kingstonian had a great chance to win the game with this shot……Only for Gorey to get down and make a very smart save……And that was that – another 1-1 draw. If I were Kingstonian I’d be concerned that we had to score an own goal to get them back to level terms! And I really must remind Sean to hoof the ball over the Lido in future 😉

After last season and all the changes, two draws is not a bad start especially as Kingstonian have been widely predicted to be in the playoff’s. As for Bowers & Pitsea – they looked well organised and are not going to be easy pickings for anyone. Our season continues with a home game against Bognor Regis on Saturday – another difficult game. Lets hope we can get something out of that one too!

It’s Pre-Season Friendlies time for Wingate & Finchley FC. Steve Clark has accepted the Chairman’s invite to continue as Manager for this new season and we wish him the best with the challenging task ahead following last season’s near-relegation of the club. Steve has a number of contacts at higher levels so when the pre-seaon fixtures were announced, the fans looked in interest to see who would be visiting. Imagine our surprise when we saw that our first opponents were to be Stevenage FC – they are a professional football club playing in League 2! It proved to be a very entertaining match. Despite being three divisions above us and having most of their 1st team on the pitch, Stevenage only took the lead in the dying minutes of the first half. They were unable to increase their lead in the second half and Wingate had much the better of the final 15 minutes, though the final score remained 1-0 to the visitors. All round, a very encouraging performance 🙂

It being the start of a new season, at least one regular player has had his hair done – Luke challenges for the ball…… and Tony Mendy came close to scoring an equaliser late in the game…

Last Saturday was an unusual pre-season fixture in that it was a mini-tournament between 4 clubs. One of our ex-players, Spencer McCall, has been diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma and is undergoing treatment for this aggressive cancer. The tournament was organised as a fund raising event involving 4 clubs he has played for – Wingate & Finchley, Royston Town, Hendon and his current club, Hemel Hempstead. This was a day when taking part was the only thing that really mattered. Here are some shots from the event which Hemel ultimately won……I’m pleased to report that over £1500 was raised on the day 🙂

Our pre-season matches continued with Aldershot Town – a team from the National League (two levels above us). They won 3-0 though we did have some good chances – looks like we need to work on our finishing! 😉 No photos from that one yet as I have to process them. I give further updates on Wingate & Finchley through the coming season.