Bostik Development League Cup final: Wingate & Finchley’s under-23s miss out on double after suffering loss to clinical Hastings United under-23s
- Credit: Archant
Bostik Development League Cup final: Hastings United under-23s 2 Wingate & Finchley under-23s 0
Wingate & Finchley’s under-23s were left to rue missed chances as their hopes of ending the season as Bostik Development League Cup winners was ended by Hastings United on Tuesday night.
Dean Barker’s team were fortunate to come in level at the break, but dominated after the restart only to concede against the run of play.
Although they pushed for a way back into the contest, it was U’s who doubled their advantage to claim a 2-0 win and deny Blues the chance of winning the double.
Wingate’s first-team manager Keith Rowland was present to support the under-23s in their League Cup final and there were plenty of other people associated with the Blues at Parkside.
Barker’s side had lost the Champion of Champions final on Friday following a five-goal thriller with Margate and were looking to bounce back and end the campaign in style after already clinching the Bostik Development North title at the start of May.
Hastings got proceedings underway in Essex and a frantic start occurred with both of the teams creating openings.
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A lack of composure was initially on show and it remained goalless with a quarter of an hour played with both goalkeepers yet to be troubled, although a fine mazy run by Emmanuel Melford-Rowe nearly produced a chance for Ned Clarke.
The final pass was intercepted though, and despite forcing a corner, Clarke headed the resulting set-piece over the crossbar.
United did create the first genuine opportunity of the match in the 18th minute and it occurred after some wonderful one-touch football between Sam Adams and Jack Dixon.
Regan Smith was played through, but, under pressure from Wingate’s Ben Reynolds, he drilled wide of Reuben Rabstein’s goal.
Most of the play continued to take place in the middle of the pitch and numerous late tackles went in from both sides.
Referee Toby Enstone, to his credit, did play advantage on a lot of them in an attempt to try and let the game flow, yet chances were still at a premium with half an hour gone at Parkside.
Wingate right-back Reynolds was impressing and he nearly created an opening in the 33rd minute after receiving a good pass from Luke Alfano.
Reynolds looked to thread a through ball in for Ben Pattie, but Hastings goalkeeper Louis Rogers was out quickly and the danger was cleared.
It was a passage of play which perfectly encapsulated how the game had gone so far with both finalists looking to keep possession and knock the ball around well, but struggling to break down each others solid back lines.
Six minutes before half time there was a nervy moment for Wingate when Vassili Mandeville passed the ball across his own goal, but not to either goalkeeper Rabstein or fellow centre back Ibrahim Conteh.
Fortunately for the Blues, Hastings’ Adams wasn’t in close proximity and a potential chance for the U’s had gone begging.
As half time approached, frustration was beginning to get the better of the two sides as the young players on show became increasingly irritated by their own lack of control and finesse in the final third.
But the breakthrough was almost made on the stroke of the break when Hastings’ captain Adams attempted to lob Rabstein from at least 35-yards.
His effort went over Wingate’s goalkeeper, but struck the crossbar and although it did look to go past the line, no goal was given and the half time whistle soon followed.
Blues tried to make the most of their let-off after the restart and should have taken the lead in the 49th minute.
A mistake allowed Clarke to be played through on goal, but he lobbed over and failed to hide his frustration following the wasted opportunity.
It was the best chance Wingate had created so far and Barker was hoping it was a sign of things to come.
Six minutes later more good play was produced by the Blues as Conteh impressively won the ball at the back before bringing possession out and finding Melford-Rowe out wide.
The winger dribbled forward, got to the byline and crossed in for Clarke, but with Rogers out of his goal, a Hastings defender managed to block the centre and it stayed goalless.
Wingate were more confident though now, and continued to dictate play and push for the opener at Parkside.
Hastings reacted by introducing Matt Rodrigues-Barbosa and Luca Page for Smith and Jordan Harley.
It didn’t stop the Blues in their tracks, however, as they went close again in the 61st minute when Clarke reached a deep free kick and cut back for Keir Dickson, but he was denied by a superb save from U’s goalkeeper Rogers.
At this point it seemed only a matter of time before Barker’s men opened the scoring, but it wasn’t the case.
With 64 on the clock, it was Hastings who made the breakthrough when Dixon tried his luck from 25-yards, but scuffed his effort and it fell perfectly for substitute Page and he controlled before slotting past Rabstein to open the scoring.
United’s substitution had worked perfectly, but, after dominating the first 19 minutes of the second period, Wingate now trailed at Parkside.
Barker’s team didn’t feel sorry for themselves though, and soon got back on the front foot and came close again two minutes after the opener when Dickson chipped over the top for Pattie.
Wingate’s captain brought the ball down and cut inside his opponent before curling just past the post from 25-yards.
It was a fine effort and yet not enough to get the north Londoners back on level terms and things soon went from bad to worst for them.
Clarke challenged for a loose ball and fell to the ground and unfortunately appeared to dislocate his shoulder.
Barker was forced to bring the attacker off and Ricardo Price replaced him with 70 on the clock.
Three minutes later and he was involved as he flicked Melford-Rowe’s pass into the path of Pattie, but his 22-yarder was saved by Rogers after a deflection.
In the same minute the Blues attacked again and this time they created an even better opportunity as Price was played through on goal, but, with only Hastings goalkeeper to beat, he saw his effort saved by the U’s custodian.
With Wingate pressing for a leveller, they were leaving gaps at the back and United almost profited when Adams played Page through, but this time he was thwarted by Reynolds and Hastings could only force an 80th minute corner which came to nothing.
Blues kept on pressing, but were now struggling to break down the opposition and another stoppage occurred four minutes from time.
A Hastings player needed treatment and Barker took advantage of it by bringing on Jack Baker for Isaac Ebelebe.
Tension was at an all-time high with only a few minutes left at Parkside and time was running out for Wingate.
A second goal of the game did arrive in the 88th minute, but unfortunately for the Blues it went to Hastings.
Page made the run and was found with a ball over the top and he fired past Rabstein to virtually put the final to bed.
Wingate were not giving up and Barker made his final roll of the dice by introducing Conor Ferguson for Franco Saviano.
The Blues were buoyed even more by five minutes of stoppage time, but they sensed it wasn’t going to be their night when Pattie saw a shot blocked by a defender from the penalty spot and Alfano’s follow-up effort was also stopped by a U’s player.
Despite enjoying the better of the second half, Wingate had just lacked the required clinical touch in front of goal.
After more pressure, the full time whistle was blown to bring the north Londoners hopes of a double to an end.
It was not the finish Barker and his team had hoped for, but they can still be proud of their efforts in what was a fine overall campaign for the Wingate under-23s.
Hastings United: Rogers; Fielding, Christie, Climpson, Scrafton; Haggard; Harley (Page 60), Pritchard, Dixon, Smith (Rodrigues-Barbosa 57); Adams ©.
Unused substitutes: Cruttwell, Janneh, Cornelius.
Wingate & Finchley: Rabstein; Reynolds, Mandeville, Conteh, Saviano (Ferguson 90); Ebelebe (Baker 87), Alfano; Melford-Rowe, Clarke (Price 70), Dickson; Pattie ©.
Unused substitutes: Boateng, Radway.