Wingate hold nerve to book spot in quarter-finals

Ahmet Rifat of Wingate & Finchley in action against Harrow Borough (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo).

Ahmet Rifat of Wingate & Finchley in action against Harrow Borough (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo). - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Velocity Trophy second round: Bowers & Pitsea 3 Wingate & Finchley 3 (4-5 on penalties)

Wingate & Finchley survived an almighty scare to progress past Bowers & Pitsea in the second round of the Velocity Trophy on Tuesday night.

It was far from straightforward for the north Londoners in deepest, darkest Essex, but after a six-goal thriller, a dramatic ending and a penalty shoot-out – they made it into the last eight of the competition.

On a night of returns, with long-serving ace Bobby Smith in goal and Layne Eadie and Ahmet Rifat featuring again after lengthy spells out through injury, the Blues did change things up at the Len Salmon Stadium.

Timothy Monsheju was one of those to earn a rare start and he showed his quality in the 28th minute by giving Glen Little’s side the lead.

After a move had appeared to break down, the ex-Witham Town attacker picked up the ball on the edge of the area and rifled home with aplomb to make it 1-0.

It stayed this way until half time, but Bostik North side Bowers levelled early into the second period.

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Wingate failed to defend a corner well enough and Callum Leahy took full advantage to head an equaliser at the back post.

The Bostik Premier visitors were not deterred, however, and in the 65th minute David Manu put them back in front.

He chased a long ball over the top, held off the opposition defender well and poked in to make it 2-1.

When summer signing Manu extended Wingate’s lead with 10 minutes left, following a superb left-footed finish, the tie seemed over.

But Bowers had other ideas as James Thomas reduced the deficit with 87 played after he stabbed home from a free kick.

It set up a nervy finale and disaster struck in stoppage time when Luke Hurst, on loan from Dagenham & Redbridge, equalised following a cross from the right.

The full time whistle occurred minutes later and penalties were required, but Wingate kept a calm head.

Chace O’Neill, Monsheju, Joe Sharpe, Carl Stewart and Samir Bihmoutine all netted with Bowers missing their fifth spot-kick to hand Blues a 5-4 shoot-out win.

In the next round, the quarter-finals, the Maurice Rebak Stadium club will host Bishop’s Stortford for a place in the last four of the tournament.

Wingate will turn their attention back to the Bostik Premier this weekend when they make the trip to Margate looking to build on their recent good run of results.