Rifat’s goal keeps play-off hopes alive for Wingate & Finchley and sends Grays Athletic down
- Credit: Archant
Ahmet Rifat’s solitary goal was enough to see Wingate & Finchley to their first win in five games – and confirm relegation for Grays Athletic.
The win keeps the Blues’ hopes of making the end-of-season play-offs alive as it leaves them in ninth but just three points off third.
For Grays though a run of just three wins in 2017 has seen them slip out of the Ryman League Premier Division after a four-year stay.
Ahmet Rifat’s goal separated the sides after 90 minutes, but Wingate had enough chances to record a more comfortable score.
That said it was the host’s Shane Gore who was the first goalkeeper called into action, making two saves in quick succession to deny Joao Carlos and Isaac Layne.
Ben Pattie curled a free-kick just wide of Amadou Tangara’s post before Reece Beckles-Richards and Luke Ifil spurned a couple of close and long-range chances each.
Joe Payne again forced Gore into a save with a stinging effort from outside the box before Rifat put the hosts 1-0 up.
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Meeting Pattie’s 37th minute corner inside the six-yard box, the captain headed the ball across goal and into the bottom corner.
Rob Laney also got his head on a corner just before half-time but Tangara held onto the ball.
Beckles-Richards had two excellent chances to double Wingate’s lead after the restart, but watched Tangara tip his long-range effort over the bar before blocking a curling shot.
The striker then fired straight into Tangara’s feet when Rifat’s shot deflected to him inside the box and he had a goal ruled out for offside when he followed an Ifil shot that the goalkeeper had spilled.
A chance for Kieran Bishop with five minutes left saw the striker fire well over Wingate’s net in acres of space and, despite the home side’s chances, the game finished 1-0.
Wingate travel to Merstham next week, where a win would go a long way to guaranteeing a top-half finish.