Bostik Premier: Keith Rowland hailed by Wingate & Finchley under-23 boss Dean Barker with Blues still in the play-off mix

Wingate & Finchley manager Keith Rowland (left) gives instructions from the touchline alongside assi

Wingate & Finchley manager Keith Rowland (left) gives instructions from the touchline alongside assistant manager Ritchie Graham (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo). - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

The former Cockfosters manager reflected on the Blues campaign to date and their clash at Lowestoft falling foul to the bad weather

Wingate & Finchley under-23 boss Dean Barker has heaped praise on first-team manager Keith Rowland with the Maurice Rebak Stadium club sitting eighth in the Bostik Premier table with 12 fixtures left to play this season.

Barker, who helps out with first-team matters when his under-23s are not in action, reflected on the Blues campaign to date following last Saturday’s postponed away match with Lowestoft Town.

The Trawler Boys called the game off well in advance due to the heavy snow and with just two matches in the division surviving the poor weather, it ensured Wingate remain in eighth and only four points off the play-off positions.

“We have done really,” said Barker. “We have brought a few new boys in lately, so it might take them some time to gel, but we are in the mix.

“Wingate & Finchley are not meant to be near the play-offs, but because we did so well last season there is more expectation.

“So, I think Keith has managed things really well and he takes it game by game and wants us to finish in the top-10 and we are on course for that.

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“If we can keep on like we have been then we should be in and around it come the end of the season and that would be another great achievement.”

Saturday’s postponement at Crown Meadow means Wingate will face a lengthy trip to Suffolk next Tuesday (March 13).

Barker conceded it will have an impact on Rowland’s squad for the game but pondered whether it may also work in their favour.

He added: “As a group, we probably would’ve rather gone to Lowestoft on Saturday because now it is a Tuesday night a few lads might not be available.

“The coach has to leave quite early, so we might be missing a few, but I know they are having some (financial) problems and sold their forward (Jake Reed) to Leiston this week, so it could work in our favour. Either way we know it will be tough.”

Although Lowestoft called off their clash with Wingate on Friday afternoon, the snow meant the Blues were unable to put on a training session.

With the temperatures back above freezing and no more snow forecast, Wingate are set to be able to prepare as normal for this weekend’s home fixture with Thurrock.

“It was a few days off for the players because we couldn’t train on Saturday or last Thursday either,” said Barker, when asked if they put on a session due to the Lowestoft postponement.

“But we are all back in tonight and again on Thursday, so we will be getting things ready for us to play Thurrock this weekend.”