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Cronin: Wingate & Finchley's goal rush has eased the pressure on the defence

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 December 2016

Wingate & Finchley centre-back Sean Cronin leaps to head the ball clear. Picture: David Stevens

Wingate & Finchley centre-back Sean Cronin leaps to head the ball clear. Picture: David Stevens

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Sean Cronin says Wingate & Finchley's free-scoring run of form has lifted the pressure that burdened their defence earlier in the season.

The Blues have won four games in a row in all competitions – their best winning streak of the campaign to date – and are also finding their feet in front of goal, having scored 13 times in that period.

That represents a significant turnaround from Wingate’s troubled start to the season, when they accrued just four goals and four points from their first six Premier Division fixtures.

Cronin, who has formed a solid partnership with Romanian centre-back Claudiu Vilcu, told Ham&High Sport: “As a defender it put a lot of pressure on you, knowing you had to keep a clean sheet to win the game.

“Obviously we still try to do that but we’re confident that, if we concede, we can still go on to win the game. It was different at the beginning of the season, when we were struggling to score goals and leaking goals as well.

“Claudiu’s come in and shored up the defence and the boys are starting to score, so I think we’re going in the right direction, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

“I’m sure the other boys at the back would agree that we’d like to concede fewer goals. Hopefully as we go on through the season we can have fewer goals conceded than games played – that’s the aim.

“There’s no reason why we can’t be in and around the play-offs come the beginning of the new year – that would provide us with a platform, give us something to aim for and keep us ticking over.”

Cronin and his colleagues were denied the opportunity to extend their winning run on Tuesday night when the near-freezing conditions forced the postponement of their home game against Harrow Borough.

Although the pitch at the Maurice Rebak Stadium was largely playable, a rock-hard section in one goalmouth left the referee with no choice but to call the match off.

Instead, the Blues must now regroup for Saturday’s game at Lowestoft Town – a venue few teams relish visiting and certainly one without fond memories for Cronin.

The Welshman, who scored Wingate’s goal in their 1-1 draw at home to the Suffolk club in September, recalled: “When I played for Wealdstone we had two sent off, including me, in the play-off semi-final at Lowestoft [in 2012].

“Another time up there we had gale force winds and you couldn’t get out of your own half. You’d play the ball and it’d blow straight back behind the goal.

“It’s a long trip for anyone and always a difficult place to go. But we go there with a lot of confidence and hopefully I can banish those memories this weekend.”

Cronin has different feelings about another of the Blues’ upcoming away games – he is looking forward to a return to Wealdstone in the first round of the FA Trophy a week on Saturday.

Wingate, who equalled their best run in the competition by winning 4-2 at Slough Town at the weekend, now take on the National League South side, who overcame Maidenhead 2-1 in Tuesday’s replay.

“I’ve not been back in a competitive game since I left Wealdstone, so I’m looking forward to the game. It’ll be nice to go back down there and see some familiar faces,” added Cronin.

“We could have got an easier draw, a home draw, and we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a difficult game. They’re in the league above us and comfortably mid-table.”

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