Wingate manager Gary Meakin prepares for climax to relegation battle
Forget 40 points – Wingate & Finchley manager Gary Meakin is just looking forward to getting 40 winks as the relegation battle comes to a climax.
The Blues boss took charge of the club in November and is now leading a fight for survival in the Ryman Premier Division, with W&F sitting three points above the drop zone with three games left.
Wingate gained a vital 3-0 home victory over Kingstonian on Saturday and their fate is in their own hands.
However, they have it all to do in the next 10 days as they face play-off hopefuls East Thurrock United and Lowestoft before their final game against fellow strugglers Cray Wanderers.
“I’d be a liar if I said I’d slept really well for the last month, but it’s what I’ve always dealt with,” said Meakin.
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“I had to get my previous two clubs [Hillingdon Borough and Northwood] out of relegation, from a worse position than we’re in now.
“I’ve been at the point where we had to win or we were down so I’m used to it. I’d like to think I’m staying calm because it filters through to the players if you don’t.
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“Three points might be enough but I’d like six, just to make sure. We’ve done okay, we’re not in a great position and we thought we wouldn’t be in this position. Our peformances are quite frustrating because we’re playing quite well but we don’t finish sides off.
“In the games that we’ve won recently against Hendon and Kingstonian, all we did differently was put the ball in the net. If we just keep doing that we’ll be okay.”
Anthony Thomas gave Wingate a half-time lead against Kingstonian on Saturday, and a Leon Smith penalty and a John Christian strike wrapped up the Blues’ second victory in seven league games.
“It was a massive result,” said Meakin. “I think we slipped into the bottom two for 24 hours at an earlier stage but, apart from that, it was the first time we’d actually been in the bottom two since I’ve been here.
“I felt there was a little bit of an ‘it won’t happen to us’ attitude from some of the players, and physically seeing us in there maybe just gave them the kick that they needed to think ‘oh it is actually going to happen’. We used that as motivation.”
Meakin is particularly keen to keep Wingate in the Premier Division because he is convinced that, if they survive, they will be much more comfortable next season.
“I’m 100 per cent sure of that,” he said. “I’ve spoken to four or five players that I’ve earmarked [to sign] already, if we keep our status as a Ryman Premier side – and it will be a fresh start, which is what we need.
“I’ve had a long time and I’ve not done as well as I thought I would do, but there has been a lot of upheaval and transition since I’ve been here – more than I thought there would be.
“The buck stops with me so what we’ve done this year is my fault, but at the same time it was always a difficult time to come in before Christmas and start changing it around.
“We’ve had a lot to deal with, it hasn’t been ideal but it will be nice to have a clean slate and, whatever we do next year, people can fully judge me on that - and I’ll be happy with that because I feel we’ll do okay.”