Wingate & Finchley boss hails his side’s character as fightback extends FA Cup adventure

Wingate & Finchley manager Simon Lane hailed his side’s character after they came from behind to beat Conference South outfit Concord Rangers on Saturday and equal their best ever run in the FA Cup.

The Blues looked set for a long afternoon as Concord – who play one division above Wingate – took the lead just 15 seconds into the second qualifying round tie.

But Tommy Tejan-Sie equalised with a free kick after 16 minutes, and substitute Karl Oliyide scored a dramatic late winner.

Wingate are now in the third qualifying round for only the third time, and they have been given another home draw against a Conference South side, entertaining the league’s bottom side Weston-super-Mare on Saturday October 10.

The Blues’ victory was also a lucrative one as they banked £4,500 on top of the £3,000 they were awarded for overcoming Long Buckby AFC in the first qualifying round.

“It was extremely important and it’s the FA Cup so that gets everybody excited and we were no less [excited],” said Lane. “It was a tremendous day, I thought we absolutely bossed it and to come back after conceding the goal in the very first minute [was fantastic].

“You wind them up, you send them out with all the plans in the world and you think your world’s fallen in when they score in the first minute. But that, above everything, was the key thing for me – the character that we showed – and that will stand us in good stead going forward.

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“You just want to keep progressing if you can, we’re enjoying every minute and we’ll try to keep it going as long as we can.

“There were some huge efforts on behalf [of the team]. We had some walking wounded – people like Lee Barney, making his debut for us and running his socks off. Karl, who came on, had a shoulder injury, Rob Laney was playing out of position and Mark Goodman was on the bench but was carrying the flu.

“We were really tested as a squad but the character of everybody shone through. There were some tired limbs out there but what a great team effort.”

Wingate went into the tie having failed to score in their previous two games and after losing to local rivals Enfield Town four days previously.

Their fortunes seemed unlikely to improve as they went behind within moments of the kick-off as Tony Stokes beat Bobby Smith at the second attempt, but the hosts nearly responded straight away as Billy Healey headed straight at the keeper.

The equaliser came after 16 minutes as Barney – a summer signing from Marlow who was making his belated debut due to injury – was hauled down outside the box and Tejan-Sie stepped up to curl his free kick past McNamara.

Wingate nearly took the lead before the break as Ola Sogbanmu’s header was cleared off the line by Tom Stephen – but Rangers’ Ben Greenhalgh also went close when his 65th-minute free kick hit the bar.

Heading into the final 10 minutes, the home side’s hearts were in their mouths as Concord substitute George Doyle ran clean through on goal, but Smith came out and forced the midfielder to square the ball, with the ball running out of play.

Instead it was Wingate who got the decisive goal as Sogbanmu powered through the middle and released Oliyide, who had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes – yet he coolly rounded McNamara and slotted into the empty net.

The Blues were brought back down to earth on Tuesday night, suffering a controversial 2-1 home defeat to Canvey Island in the Ryman League Premier Division.

Ahmet Rifat put the hosts ahead after the break and they were 1-0 up in the 70th minute, only to suffer a reverse of their fortunes in the cup match, conceding twice.

Richard Halle equalised at the second attempt after Bobby Smith parried his initial effort onto the bar – and Canvey struck again through Martin Tuohy in the 89th minute.

It initially appeared to be a diving header but was in fact a blatant handball, which referee Adam Crysell failed to spot.