Nielsen discusses Wingate & Finchley’s upturn in form and eyes FA Trophy tie

Wingate & Finchley’s head coach Daniel Nielsen says his team are now getting the results that their efforts and performances have deserved after a marked upturn in form.

The Blues endured a difficult start to the season, winning their first fixture but then taking just six points from a possible 30 while also stumbling out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle.

However, they have gone unbeaten in their six games in October, winning four of those matches. Victories in the Middlesex Senior Charity Cup and the FA Trophy have been combined with two league triumphs - a 2-0 victory at Harrow Borough earlier in the month and then a 3-0 home win over Bognor Regis Town on Saturday.

That was a notable victory, given that high-flying Bognor had won their six previous league games – and Nielsen feels his side are now getting their just rewards.

“I don’t think it [the improvement] is anything specific, I think it’s just a product of the hard work and determination of everyone in the squad,” the head coach told Ham&High Sport.

“We’ve always instilled in the squad that if they work hard then they’ll get the results, and they have been doing that continuously all season and now this month we’ve been able to get the results and the boys are getting their rewards.

“We talk a lot about luck and maybe it was that. Maybe we didn’t get the results we deserved earlier on in the season – but I don’t like to put things in football down to luck too much.

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“I think we’re learning, as a team and a management team. We’re maybe learning from our mistakes earlier in the season and we’re now getting the results we deserve.

“We always try to look up the table rather than down and, while be won’t be getting ahead of ourselves, we do feel that we are better than our current league position. Hopefully we’ll continue to rise up the table.

“I still think talking about promotion and the play-offs is probably out of reach, but certainly a top-half finish is our aim, as it has been all season.”

Former captain Nielsen was given the head coach’s role in the summer as part of a new hierarchy, with ex-Wingate manager David Norman returning to the club as director of football. Five months into his new job, Nielsen feels the structural changes have paid off.

“It’s been working really well, we’ve been really pleased with how it’s been going,” he said. “David does a tremendous amount of work, going to watch teams and watch players and taking that whole side of it away from us, so we can just concentrate on the coaching.

“Gavin King and Dean Smith have been working tremendously hard with the players and instilling the way we want to play, and I feel it’s been working very well.”

Meanwhile, Wingate’s youth section continues to go from strength to strength, with the Under-18s reaching the first round proper in the FA Youth Cup.

“It’s brilliant, both the Under-18s and the Under-21s have had fantastic starts to the season,” said Nielsen.

“Long-term, the vision that [chairman] Aron Sharpe has instilled is that we want to have this conveyor belt of players and produce players for the first team, because we’re not a club that can go out and pay a load of money for any given player.

“To have these young players coming through is fantastic, and it’s certainly a long-term vision for the club that we’re producing our players from within, using local talent and having an avenue for local footballers to come through and play at a good level. The future’s really bright and I’m really excited about that.”

For now, Nielsen’s immediate task is to prepare his side for Saturday’s home tie against Daventry Town in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

“Any of the cup competitions are really nice distractions, I always remember that as a player,” said Nielsen. “It takes you away from that pressure of the league.

“We’ve got two home games coming up, and Daventry will be a very tough test. Even though they’re in the level below us they’re having a great season and they’ve only lost once, so that will be a tough game.

“But when we play at home we really fancy ourselves against anybody because we’ve got a beautiful pitch and it really suits the way we play. I think playing Wingate & Finchley at the Abrahams Stadium is a tough proposition for anybody in non-league football.”