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Wingate & Finchley face final battle for survival on last day of the season

Ahmet Rifat (centre) in action for Wingate & Finchley. Pic: Martin Addison Ahmet Rifat (centre) in action for Wingate & Finchley. Pic: Martin Addison

Thursday, April 24, 2014
8:45 AM

Wingate & Finchley will be fighting for survival in the Ryman League Premier Division in Saturday’s final game of the season – and their fate is out of their hands.

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The Blues picked up four points over the Easter weekend, with Josh Kennet scoring in a 1-1 draw at home against relegation rivals Enfield Town on Saturday before Ahmet Rifat and Leon Fisher struck in a 2-0 victory at Leiston on Monday.

However, W&F still sit in the bottom four as they prepare to host Billericay Town in this weekend’s finale.

Wingate are level with East Thurrock United on points but are 12 goals worse off on goal difference, and they trail Enfield Town by two points with an extra five-goal handicap.

Both teams can be overtaken on the final day, and East Thurrock face second-placed Bognor Regis Town, who will be attempting to secure the top play-off spot and gain home advantage in the semi-final and final.

On the other hand, Enfield Town are away against basement boys Cray Wanderers and will be favourites to get the result that they need to stay up.

A Wingate victory in itself is by no means certain given that Billericay sit 10th in the table, 11 places above them.

However, director of football David Norman – who was manager when the Blues won promotion to the Premier Division in 2011 – believes that Monday’s away win at ninth-placed Leiston has given the squad a valuable injection of self-belief.

“We did very well on Monday,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve won at Leiston and all credit must go to the players.

“It’s given us a real confidence boost to win away against a team who were in excellent form, and it was really deserved.”

Norman added: “I don’t think it’s really a nervy week, we know what we have to achieve. There’s three points for us to gain to give us a chance to keep playing at this level. That’s everyone’s ambition.

“We’ve worked very hard to get to this level, and it’s a very challenging league. We’ve had some very good performances this season and unfortunately some which have not been of the level required.

“The majority of teams have financial backing which allows them to have large squads and bring players at various points during the season.

“At Wingate, we aim to develop young talent from the local area. We have an ethos and we want to maintain that at this level.

“Anybody’s capable of beating anybody in this division. The margins of success and failure are very close and there could be some upsets in the games that we’re talking about this weekend.

“All we can do on Saturday is keep to our footballing ethos, play the way we always set out to play and keep the pressure on East Thurrock and Enfield above us.

“We can’t do anything about their games but what I can say is that our squad is up to the challenge of getting what we need this weekend.”

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