Wingate & Finchley maintain perfect start to 2015 with victory over Witham Town

Wingate & Finchley continued their perfect start to 2015 on Saturday, beating Witham Town to record a third successive league victory.

First-half strikes from Scott Shulton, Mark Goodman and Rob Laney sent the Blues on their way to what looked set to be a straightforward win over their relegation-threatened visitors.

But a second-half comeback from Witham meant this was a real Jekyll and Hyde performance from the hosts, who ended up holding on before banking the points that took them up into seventh spot.

Wingate got off to the perfect start after seven minutes as David Knight’s free-kick ricocheted into the path of Shulton, who finished from the edge of the six-yard box with his second goal in three games.

Karl Oliyide twice came close to doubling the hosts’ lead, but there was an air of fortune when the second goal did arrive after 20 minutes, with Goodman’s cross from the right flank evading everyone and sailing into the net via the post.

Brimming with confidence, Goodman then unleashed a fierce left-footed shot that was repelled by Witham goalkeeper Martin Guest, but there was little he could do about Wingate’s third strike on the stroke of half-time.

Swift interplay between Ronayne Marsh-Brown, Knight and Oliyide resulted in the latter finding Laney, who toe-poked the ball home to complete the best move of the match.

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Rather than roll over, Witham restored some pride in the second period as complacency seeped into the hosts. Jamie Guy came close to reducing the arrears within a minute of the restart, heading just wide, but their resilience paid off on the hour-mark.

A defensive mix-up between goalkeeper Bobby Smith and left-back Marsh-Brown resulted in the ball hitting the post and then Smith’s head on its way into the net.

Smith atoned for his mistake with a pair of smart saves to prevent Witham from halving the deficit – first denying Tom Wraight and then Luke Callander – but he was powerless to prevent Witham’s second goal 10 minutes from time.

Lewis Dark’s right-wing cross was met by the firm head of Lewis Godbold, who set up a nervy finale – but Wingate managed to hold on to emerge victorious again.