Wingate & Finchley captain: We’ve proved we have to be taken seriously in play-off fight
Captain Marc Weatherstone believes Wingate & Finchley have proved they must be taken seriously in the play-off fight – and he sees them as favourites to finish in the top five ahead of their rivals.
The Blues have enjoyed a remarkable rise in the past year, having ended the last campaign in the bottom four and initially been relegated.
They earned a reprieve and have been battling at the other end of the table this season, maintaining a sustained promotion challenge and surpassing their best ever points tally in the Ryman League Premier Division in the process.
If anyone underestimated Wingate’s chances of securing a play-off spot, their last two results may well have forced a re-evaluation of their chances.
Having earned a goalless draw at third-placed Margate on March 21, the Blues thumped fourth-placed Dulwich Hamlet 3-0 at home on Saturday, Harrison Georgiou and Karl Oliyide putting the hosts 2-0 up before David Knight scored his 26th goal of the season with a penalty.
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That took the Blues five points behind their defeated visitors and they sit two points behind fifth-placed Enfield Town ahead of tonight’s trip to play-off rivals Grays Athletic.
Weatherstone said: “We have to be taken seriously now, 100 per cent. If we didn’t prove it beforehand then we’ve definitely proved it now with those two results – four points from Margate and Dulwich clearly says that.
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“Honestly I don’t think we’re underdogs at all. For me, and us, we’re going in as the favourites because we know the ability of the squad.
“There’s only two or three teams that I would say are better than us in the league, who you could call favourites over us. If that makes us third or fourth favourites in the league then so be it. I’m confident, and so is the rest of the team.
“I think we’ve surprised everyone in the division this season. From virtually getting relegated last year to what we’re doing now, we’ve surprised a few – even five or six games before these last two results.
“Dulwich are a great team and we weren’t really expecting to beat them 3-0. We thought it would be a tighter game but we’re on form at the moment.
“I think it’s down to momentum, confidence, experience – every game you learn something new and you gel with each other – and hard work and just the spirit at the club.
“We all know our goals and want to do the best we can. We all want to play in the league above, we all feel we’re good enough to do that and we’re just pushing as hard as we can.”
Weatherstone added: “We’ve got the play-offs in our grasp. I think beating Dulwich has opened two places up – fourth place is up for grabs whereas before we were looking at the last place. So, as captain, I’m basically saying ‘have no regrets, work hard and let’s try to get the best we can out of the season’.”
Having faced Margate and Dulwich in the past fortnight, Wingate face another tough test on Easter Monday as they host title contenders Hendon in a crucial derby duel (kick-off 3pm).
“Hendon are the form team and they’re second at the moment, but when we played them at their place I thought we did well,” said Weatherstone. “They did dominate us [Hendon won 3-1] but we had two men sent off and it was a poor refereeing performance. We still held our own.
“I would say they’re possibly one of the strongest teams we’ve played. Margate and Maidstone are very good but we played Margate last week and arguably should have beaten them.
“They’ve got a big budget and then there’s Hendon and Maidstone. Other than that I feel we’re next.”