True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the victory at Harrow Borough
- Credit: Archant
Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler discusses Saturday’s 2-0 triumph away at Harrow Borough.
Following our 2-1 home defeat against Hampton & Richmond Borough in our previous league game at the end of September, Wingate had fallen into the dreaded drop zone for the first time this season.
With only two wins on the board all season - against the bottom two clubs - the situation was starting to look increasingly grim at Summers Lane in our fight to maintain our place in the Ryman Premier League.
What a difference a week can make in the fickle world of football! Following our 2-0 victory last Tuesday in the Middlesex Charity Cup – when we gained our revenge over Hampton & Richmond - the Blue Gods of Finchley schlepped over to Harrow on Saturday and returned with three valuable points which have taken us out of the relegation zone.
Three players of note, all at different stages of their careers, were named in the 16-man matchday squad for the game - Ryan Sellers, Scott Shulton and Kieron Street.
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Sellers is a young marauding left-back with explosive pace and the sort of fitness most of us could only dream off - young Ryan could happily run up and down the length of a football pitch for 90 minutes and then jog home!
A product to the Wingate & Finchley youth set-up, he made his first-team debut last week in the Middlesex Charity Cup tie and retained his place ahead of the injured Paul Wright and Kieron Street, who is returning to fitness.
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Sellers played extremely well against Harrow Borough on Saturday and I am looking forward to seeing him progress as a player over the next few months.
Street is an accomplished first-team regular who has unfortunately been plagued with multiple injuries recently.
In fact, he hasn’t kicked a competitive ball in anger since leaving the field of play on a stretcher in early February last season.
The composed full-back made his long-awaited return in the midweek cup game, coming off the bench, and he played like he had never been away.
Finally we come to the talented creative midfielder Shulton. According to Scott’s Twitter account he has been forced to leave the club and quit playing semi- professional football for the time being.
Why, you may ask, is a guy with so much obvious talent and love of the game calling a day on his playing career at such an early age?
What you have to appreciate is that these guys are plying their trade in what is essentially the seventh division, and they are only part-time footballers.
They all have normal 9-5 jobs like you and I and, if the demands of their livelihood away from football escalate, they are often found in a position where they can no longer commit the necessary time to the club.
Scott, for example, is an academy coach at Championship side QPR, which as you can imagine takes up a lot of his time. Subsequently, this has meant he has been forced to miss a plethora of matches this season.
If he does leave the club he will have left many fond memories - my particular favourite being his goal direct from a corner against Hastings last season.
I always enjoy my trips to Earlsmead, the home of Harrow Borough and also Hendon. Both clubs are very friendly and welcoming to visiting supporters and of course it also helps that Wingate have enjoyed a decent level of success at the ground over recent times.
The Blue Gods started like an express train, coming at their hosts from the kick-off and getting the two wide players Dean Mason and Josh Kennett into some very promising positions.
However, Leon Smith looked a little isolated as the lone man in the box every time a cross was delivered.
Unfortunately, we were unable to make our early dominance pay as Harrow began to come into the game more and started to look increasingly dangerous, particularly on the counter-attack.
The ever-improving young centre-back Farai Hallam was our saviour midway through the first half when he cleared a certain goal off the line - much to the relief of the travelling fans.
We have not seen much of Lady Luck lately, but she was smiling on us at the start of the second half when an unmarked Harrow Borough forward smashed a powerful header past Bobby Smith - the ball ricocheted off the post and rebounded back into Bobby’s arms.
Following a lull of 20 minutes or so, the game sprung into life for the final 15 minutes. Spencer McCall’s curling effort left the Harrow keeper flat-footed and the ball thumped against the woodwork, trickled along the line and hit the other post before rebounded out to the waiting Ahmet Rifat, who made no mistake from two yards out.
The travelling supporters (19 of us!) were not counting our chickens just yet. After all, the last time we played at Earlsmead we took the lead at a similar time against Hendon, only to be pegged back in injury-time.
Harrow hit the woodwork as they pressed hard to restore parity, but as they threw more and more men forward we were able to exploit the space in their final third and were soon two goals to the good.
Leon Smith was able to outmuscle and outpace the one defender that Harrow had left in their half, before advancing on the goalkeeper and slotting home to hand us an extremely valuable three points.
Follow me on Twitter @jmascis666