True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the defeat at Maidstone United

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

The Ham&High's Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler - Credit: Archant

The Ham&High’s Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler looks back on yesterday’s 3-0 defeat away at Maidstone United in the Ryman League Premier Division.

Yesterday’s trip to Maidstone United was always going to be our toughest test of the season so far and so it proved.

Allow me to explain the best I can in a few words the phenomenon that is Maidstone United. While most clubs in our division boast average gates of between 150 and 350, Maidstone regularly get between 1,700 and 2,000 people through their gates.

The primary reason for their astounding revenue-swelling crowds is the fact that Maidstone were plying their trade in the Football League not so long ago.

Since their halcyon days they have suffered some severe financial problems, but they appear to be on the up again and, Margate aside, there isn’t a side in the division who can attract the players of the quality that they possess.

Last season we travelled to the Gallagher Stadium in wretched form and were easily brushed aside by a rampant Maidstone side, losing 5-0. But this year Wingate are a different animal and, although I didn’t realistically expect to leave Kent with anything, I was hopeful that we could put in a better account of ourselves.

The continuity that we have enjoyed for most of the season continued when head coach Danny Nielsen was able to name the same starting XI and five subs as the previous week.

Most Read

We started the game on the front foot when Karl Oliyide’s blocked shot rebounded into the path of Carl McCluskey, whose half volley whistled just past the right-hand post.

We were eventually undone by Maidstone’s considerable long-throw weapon, which was Rory Delap-esque in its execution. Alex Flisher’s throw was dispatched to the near post and Steve Watt stole in unmarked to direct the ball past Bobby Smith for the opening goal.

Unfortunately the Blue Gods declined to learn form their mistakes and Maidstone’s second goal was virtually identical to its predecessor.

Once again a long throw from Flisher was dispatched to the near post and, this time, Dan Parkinson was presented with the freedom of Maidstone to nod the ball home to leave W&F trailing by two goals at the break.

We lost our way a little bit in the second period and Smith had to be on top form to prevent Maidstone from plundering more than the one goal that they did. This was, incidentally, Maidstone’s seventh consecutive victory.

It doesn’t get any easier for Wingate. Next up we entertain Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Cup at Summers Lane on Saturday, and they are currently top of the league above ours.

If we are able to upset the odds and progress to the fourth qualifying round it will be our best FA Cup run since the 1966/67 season.