Lane wants Wingate & Finchley to be more clinical as promotion battle hots up

Wingate & Finchley manager Simon Lane says a slight improvement in his side’s finishing could make all the difference in an enthralling promotion battle.

Tommy Tejan-Sie scored an injury-time winner as the Blues won 2-1 at Staines Town on Saturday to stay among the leaders in a hotly-contested title fight.

The top seven teams are separated by just four points, and Wingate lie sixth – outside the play-offs but simultaneously only four points behind the pacesetters.

“We had a bit of a mid-season review before the game on Saturday and I said ‘I don’t think anyone’s going to run away with it’,” Lane told Ham&High Sport. “Our priority is to get safe first of all, but there are 15 teams who could say ‘let’s go for the play-offs’ and quite rightly have a bash at that, especially when you think about Enfield last year - they made a huge late run and it is possible that you get a bit of consistency. But that’s what everyone’s striving for – to try to get that edge in continuous games and even within games. It’s a challenge but it’s enjoyable.

“The review was about specifics within the work we’re doing and things we need to focus on in games – for example our ratio of goals to chances just needs to improve slightly, or a lot.

“When you create 12 chances in the game you need to be [scoring more]. Even if we pop that up by 10 per cent we’d be in good shape, it would make a huge difference to our season. That’s not just the forwards, that’s the whole team - from set pieces and things like that.

“It wasn’t so much the case on Saturday but we’re really dominating games and carving teams open and time and time again, and it’s very frustrating because if you don’t score in those periods - and it’s happened a couple of times - people have nicked things against us.

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“When we lost against VCD Athletic the other week, for example, we hit the bar or the post five times and we’ve had enough chances to win three games, let alone one. We just need to get that ratio better, and we will. We’ve got good players. We need to work harder at it, all of us.”

Wingate took the lead six minutes into the second half at Staines on Saturday as Alfie Bartram set up Billy Healey and, although Luke Wanadio then equalised, the Blues grabbed a 92nd-minute winner as Martel Powell’s skilful drag-back gave Tejan-Sie the chance to strike inside the six-yard box.

“Everyone’s buying in completely to what we’re about, and what we’re doing,” said Lane. “I think everyone knows we’re a better proposition than last year. All due respect to the players that played last year but there’s a definite sense of that.

“Some of the values we’ve tried to instil from the start are still there in terms of getting points. That was proved on Saturday really, where we didn’t play well and for the first time we’ve got something we didn’t really deserve.

“We kept going and we were resilient and popped up with a bit of quality at the end to nick the points. Things like that are improving, no doubt.”

Wingate now finish 2015 with two home games, hosting Metropolitan Police on Boxing Day (kicking off at midday) and then local rivals Enfield Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).

“I don’t approach home and away any differently at this level,” said Lane. “I’m used to the Conference South and it’s slightly different, you do set up slightly differently, but the way the league is this year I don’t make any distinction between the two.

“It’s nice to be at home, though. You’re guaranteed a great surface at Summers Lane and we like to play, and our home record’s not bad so hopefully we can continue to improve it.

“I think the guys will be sensible [over Christmas]. A lot of them have played at this level for a while now so they know what it’s about.

“I think it’s changed nowadays. People used to go out on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and get absolutely hammered but it doesn’t happen any more – I certainly hope not anyway, I think you can tell!

“It’s a bit more professional now and I’m expecting good results over an important period.

“Strangely, we had our Christmas party after the VCD loss. There’s a great togetherness there. If you want to be successful in any team you need that and our side’s very good for that, I’ve got to say.

“It’s fantastic how close the guys are so they enjoyed their night. The vice-president and chairman were there, and other people at the club, and that’s what Wingate & Finchley is - it’s very close-knit like that. Everyone’s part of it, everyone’s pulling in the same direction so it’s fantastic.”