True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the comeback against Hitchin Town
- Credit: Archant
Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler looks back on Saturday’s dramatic 2-2 draw against Hitchin Town in the FA Trophy.
At half-time on Saturday, as we trudged past the travelling Hitchin Town fans who had assembled behind the goal they would be attacking in the second half, we wished them good luck in the next round.
By that stage the visitors were 2-0 up and, considering their extreme dominance of the opening 45 minutes, it would have been a brave and or stupid man who would have bet against Hitchin coasting through the rest of this FA Trophy tie.
I hate using footballing clichés, but the weekend’s encounter at Summers Lane truly was a game of two halves.
From the first minute, Hitchin started like a train as Wingate struggled to gain a foothold in midfield, leaving Leon Smith isolated as he manfully attempted to lead the line alone.
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As Hitchin’s threat continued to grow, the frequency of their chances also grew - the most notable being the moment when they hit the post with a towering header from a corner.
However, this shot across the bow of the good ship Wingate wasn’t heeded, and the visitors took the lead on the 20-minute mark when Jamal Lowe - who I believe is on loan from Barnet - supplied a wonderful cross for striker Robbie Burns, who gleefully headed past Bobby Smith.
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Hitchin doubled their lead about 10 minutes later when the impressive Burns manufactured an opportunistic lob over Bobby Smith, leaving us standing on the terraces wondering just how many Hitchin were going to bag before the end of the match.
I don’t know exactly what the respective managers said at half time, but Wingate came out for the second half like a team possessed.
Hitchin, who hadn’t really had to get out of second gear to saunter into their two-goal lead, continued to plod along but were seemingly unwilling or unable to raise their game accordingly when required.
Although the goal that led to our foothold back into the game was slightly fortuitous, it was certainly deserved.
Following a decent spell of pressure, Ola Williams received the ball on the right-hand side of the Hitchin box, and his cross was caught by a wicked gust of wind as it sailed majestically over the Hitchin keeper’s head and into the back of the net.
The ever-lively winger Josh Kennett then put Leon Smith through on goal with a beautiful defence-splitting pass, but the big striker hesitated before curling his shot high over the goal.
Next Ahmet Rifat was the provider as his delightful backheel put Kennett away down the left, and the winger cut inside before unleashing a hard drive at the keeper, who parried the ball clear.
With the clock ticking down to another disappointing national cup exit for the Blue Gods, new Spanish signing Hector Morante went on a run at the heart of the Hitchin back line – and it resulted in him being fouled inside the box for a last-minute penalty.
Young Spencer McCall showed considerable nerves to dispatch the penalty with a minimum of fuss, to earn us an unlikely replay in Hitchin, which takes place tonight.
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