True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the FA Cup victory at Hitchin Town
- Credit: Archant
The Ham&High’s Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler reflects on Saturday’s 3-0 FA Cup victory at Hitchin Town.
For the third time in as many seasons we had been drawn against Hitchin Town of the Southern Premier League.
They are a very friendly club with an beautifully quaint old school non-league stadium, but to draw the same team three years in a row in various cup competitions starts to make the trip a tad repetitive.
One of the reasons we have fared so much better thus far this season, I believe, is due to a high level of continuity in the team selection.
Last season, for a variety of reasons, we never really settled on an established starting XI. However, this season has been the polar opposite and, for this game, head coach Daniel Nielsen only made a couple of changes, replacing young goalkeeper Jack Metcalfe with the more experienced Bobby Smith, while Leon Fisher came in for Stuart Lake in central midfield.
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Last season we won 1-0 with an Ahmet Rifat goal at Hitchin’s Top Field to knock them out of the FA Cup. However, we were quite lucky and to this day I don’t quite know how we managed to withhold the Hitchin onslaught that evening. Saturday’s game was completely different though.
Wingate dominated proceedings from start to finish and cantered into a three-goal lead before the break courtesy of goals from David Knight, Nico Muir and Ahmet Rifat.
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Hitchin are by no means a poor side and their league position is quite impressive. However, for whatever reason, they never got to grips with our slick attacking football. A special mention must go to the quality of the pitch at the ground, which enabled us to play our natural passing game.
The second half was a bit of a non-event with the game in the bag, and The Blue Gods were able to coast through the remaining 45 minutes to progress to the third qualifying round - our best FA Cup run since 1999.
The draw was made at midday today and we will host Havant & Waterlooville, who are currently sitting second in the Conference South.
Winning on Saturday has guaranteed Wingate & Finchley a prize money reward of £7,500. This kind of cash wouldn’t pay for Wayne Rooney’s services for more than 10 minutes but, for a club of our stature, the benefits of a good run in the FA Cup cannot be understated.
We do not have a midweek game this week as our scheduled opponents Kingstonian are involved in an FA Cup replay.
Our next game now is on Saturday when we travel to Kent to face Maidstone, who have had a fantastic start to the season and are one of the few clubs currently above us in the Ryman League Premier Division. It will undoubtedly be the sternest test we have faced so far this season.