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True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of events at Summers Lane

15:21 10 March 2014

The Ham&High

The Ham&High's Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler

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Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler reflects on the Blues’ recent results, including Saturday’s valuable 1-0 victory at East Thurrock United.

Since I last penned this column the night after our 5-0 defeat at Maidstone, events have moved very quickly at Summers Lane.

Last Saturday we put in one of the best performances I have seen since I started supporting the club when, despite a numerical disadvantage following an early sending-off, we were able record a decisive 3-1 victory over local rivals and fellow strugglers Harrow Borough.

The red card issued to centre-back Bobby Aisien for a professional foul forced us to revert back to the central defensive partnership of Marc Weatherstone and Ahmet Rifat that had proved to be so successful last season, and so it told.

The visitors barely had a sniff despite their numerical advantage and, in the end, two teenage youth team products who had entered the fray from the bench – Jemal Fredricks and Jack “Nipper” Read - were able to plunder their first league goals for the club.

Last Tuesday night a Wingate team constructed almost entirely of teenage youth team players battled valiantly for 70 minutes but eventually ran out of steam as they succumbed 2-1 to Bedfont & Feltham in the quarter-finals of the Middlesex Charity Cup.

The Blue Gods were in league action the very next day as we travelled to Essex to face Grays Athletic in one of many rearranged games following the plethora of postponements that we were forced to endure during the winter months.

The only problem with all of these rearranged games it that they often occur on midweek nights, a long way away from our local area.

That often means our line-ups are missing a number of first-team players because they simply cannot make it to venues that far away from their place of work in the time for the match.

For example, on Wednesday night, young midfielder Joe Sharpe was named in the starting line-up against Grays Athletic for his full league debut, only 24 hours after playing 90 minutes in the Middlesex Charity Cup.

Josh Kennet was also drafted in for his first appearance since November - this coupled with a bench entirely consisting of talented but inexperienced teenagers and our manager, who has only played once this year.

It would be churlish to use this as an excuse as it is a problem that afflicts most clubs at our level, but we didn’t arrive in Essex at full-strength and, although the lads battled manfully on a heavy pitch, in the end Grays eased to a 2-0 scoreline.

The general consensus among the fans was that the defeat by Grays wasn’t the end of the world – but that a defeat away at East Thurrock on Saturday could potentially be devastating to our aspirations of maintaining our Ryman Premier League status for another season.

The weekend’s was a turgid affair with both sets of players fully aware of how much was riding on the six-pointer.

Our recent selection issues plagued us again and Danny Nielson was forced to name two players in the starting XI who were making their debuts, having only just been signed that morning.

It was not ideal preparation but both James Watters and Dean Smith performed with distinction as a game of very few chances was won by one moment of brilliance from Kennett, whose curling effort handed Wingate three very valuable points.

This monumental victory leaves us over 20 points ahead of both Carshalton Athletic and Cray Wanderers. However, we are still within spitting distance of East Thurrock, Enfield Town and Thamesmead.

It is a slightly more comfortable position than this time last year but certainly no time to be resting on our laurels.

Our next fixture is on Tuesday night at Summers Lane against champions-elect Wealdstone - and I’d be delighted with a draw.

Follow me on Twitter @jmascis666

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