True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the draw against Cray Wanderers
PUBLISHED: 12:27 25 November 2013 | UPDATED: 13:00 25 November 2013
Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler looks back on Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home against Cray Wanderers in the Ryman League Premier Division.
The unfortunate byproduct of our fantastic run of results and our lofty 14th-place position is that, whenever we take on any of the teams below us, we are considered favourites - particularly at home – and that is a situation we are not used to or entirely comfortable with.
On Saturday we welcomed struggling Cray Wanderers, who have spent the large majority of the season floundering around in the relegation zone and seemingly conceding goals for fun - all of which of course made The Blue Gods firm favourites, at least in the eyes of the bookmakers.
We Wingate fans, of course, knew better. It is not that we don’t have complete faith in Danny Nielsen or the players, because we do – it’s just that we know that nothing is simple where Wingate are concerned!
There were even a few half-hearted murmurings amongst our number of taking advantage of the seemingly generous odds being offered by the bookmakers and having a sneaky bet on Cray Wanderers to emerge victorious - although in the end I don’t think anyone carried out their threat.
With the exception of the suspended Bobby Smith, who was replaced by his more than capable deputy Cain Davies between the sticks, Nielsen had the unusual luxury of being able to name an unchanged starting XI that had performed so well at Enfield in our last match.
As the 110 assembled spectators made their way to gain a vantage point of the action, our captain Marc Weatherstone won the toss and elected to shoot towards the Summers Lane end in the first half, in complete contrast with tradition.
We had already spent five minutes tying up the various Finchley flags that we like to adorn at the end that Wingate will be attacking. But, rather than going through the hassle of untying them and lugging them around to the other side of the pitch, we simply left them with the handful of Cray fans who were now congregating behind the goal.
Cray are a nice club with an equally decent set of fans, and it was actually quite an iconic imagine seeing our flags mingled in amongst their own.
We started quite well, not like a train, but we were applying enough pressure to justify claims that, when Cray inevitably opened the scoring from their first real effort on goal, it was against the run of play.
The Amber midfielder Jack Sherratt seemingly had all the time in the world to control the ball and drill it past the floundering Davies from distance to hand the visitors the lead on the half-hour mark.
We were repeatedly able to get in behind the Cray back line, but a mixture of a poor final ball and some decent defending from the visitors continued to thwart our attempts to restore parity.
The second half saw more of the same, as Cray continued to defend well against our onslaught. The pick of the chances fell firstly to Spencer McCall, who saw his effort blocked by the impressive Cray keeper, and then to Leon Smith, who connected with a Josh Kennett cross, but his effort was again well saved by the keeper.
Just when it was starting to feel like we could play all night and not score, Ola Williams was fouled in the box and, although the referee looked hesitant to award the spot-kick, his assistant did not hesitate to flag.
Substitute striker David Laird, who has been enduring a barren spell in front of goal recently, duly dispatched the ball to hand Wingate a home point that we definitely deserved.
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