True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the climax to the relegation battle
11:24 22 April 2014
Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler reflects on the Blues’ fortunes over the Easter weekend and looks ahead to a pivotal weekend in the Ryman League Premier Division.
Wingate & Finchley entered the Easter period inside the relegation zone due to an inferior goal difference, and we faced two tough games in three days against local rivals and fellow relegation candidates Enfield Town before an away trip to one of the Ryman League’s more remote outposts at Leiston in Suffolk.
Because our survival is no longer in our hands, conceivably we could have lost both games and remained no worse off than when we started. On the other hand, we could have won both matches and still remained in the relegation zone. All we could do was attempt to gain as many points as possible and pray to the footballing gods that East Thurrock came unstuck.
As the lucky sandwich looked on, making its sixth appearance of the season, the Blue Gods battled to a 1-1 draw at home against Enfield Town on Saturday in a tense yet entertaining derby encounter, while East Thurrock also secured a point to maintain the status quo at the foot of the table.
Just like the previous Saturday, when we succumbed at Bognor Regis Town, this felt like a missed opportunity to register all three points - especially when Enfield Town’s custodian Noel Imber was unfortunately stretchered off with a suspected dislocated shoulder and replaced with an outfield player as the visitors had not named another goalkeeper on the bench.
The Enfield back line protected their new keeper very well and restricted us to a few efforts from range and eventually plundered a goal for themselves.
Wingate hit back almost immediately when the stand-in keeper was finally tested and, fortunately from our perspective, he was found wanting as a Josh Kennet drive whistled past his outstretched hand and into the net.
At this point the Summers Lane faithful were baying for the Blue Gods to press on and secure the three points that could make all the difference come the end of the season.
However, shortly afterwards, captain Marc Weatherstone was sent off for a soft second yellow card and both sides seemed to settle for a point – although Ahmet Rifat had a last-gasp effort that was unfortunately blocked by the face of the brave keeper.
Monday’s trip to Leiston was difficult for many of our regular away followers to reach, due to the sheer distance and other commitments.
I personally could not attend the match, but I have spoken to those who did travel and apparently Wingate put in a decent performance against a lacklustre Leiston side, eventually winning 2-0 with goals from Rifat and Leon Fisher.
Unfortunately East Thurrock made the most of Enfield’s goalkeeping woes and triumphed 5-3.
The mathematics surrounding the final game of the season on Saturday are quite chilling in their simplicity - we need to better East Thurrock’s result to save ourselves from relegation.
We are at home against Billericay, who are a very good team, so gaining a positive result will not be easy.
Meanwhile, East Thurrock face Bognor Regis Town, who will be hopefully going hell for leather as they attempt to secure second spot and the top play-off spot.
I urge anybody who is reading this to please come down to the ground on Saturday and support the boys - they need you more than ever!
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