True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the FA Trophy defeat at Arlesey Town

The Ham&High's Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler

The Ham&High's Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler - Credit: Archant

The Ham&High’s Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler looks back on Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Arlesey Town in the FA Trophy.

For those of you that don’t know, let me explain how the knockout competitions exclusively reserved for non-league clubs are organised.

All clubs operating between the fifth and eighth tier of English football compete in the FA Trophy while the clubs that operate in the tiers below are entered into the FA Vase.

Being in the Ryman League Premier Division - the seventh tier of the footballing pyramid - means that every season Wingate & Finchley participate in the FA Trophy.

The fact there are teams from two tiers above us operating in the competition makes winning it virtually impossible and, although the prize money for getting through the various rounds is not as lucrative as the FA Cup, a run in the FA Trophy is always an enjoyable experience.

Last season we did marginally better than usual, overcoming Hitchin Town before bowing out against Daventry Town.

This season we were drawn away against Arlesey Town of the Southern Premier League, which is also the seventh tier of the pyramid, with the clubs playing within it being loosely geographically based in the Midlands.

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Despite being managed by former Fulham and QPR star Rufus Brevett, our opponents have endured a tough season thus far and, although our run of form hasn’t exactly been scintillating of late, we headed up to Bedfordshire in good spirits hoping for a decent performance and result.

Our away following on Saturday stood at 19 - when you consider our average home gate, this works out at about 20 per cent of our fans.

Two new faces were on the teamsheet for Saturday’s clash - Harold Joseph and Dan Udoh, who are two teenagers who have apparently joined the club on loan from Kidderminster Harriers to gain some first-team experience.

We started the game very well and dominated the opening 15 minutes but, despite the best efforts of our three-pronged attack of Nico Muir, Rob Laney and David Knight, we could not find that vital opening goal.

Instead, that honour instead was bestowed upon former Blue God Dean Mason, who cut inside Mark Goodman and shot past Bobby Smith after 17 minutes.

Our best chance of the half fell to captain Marc Weatherstone who headed over from a dangerous cross courtesy of Tommy Tejan-Sie.

The second-half showing from Wingate was much better and we had our hosts pegged back in their defensive third for large portions of the half.

Mark Goodman marauded down the wing from full-back before playing across a fantastic ball that eluded a lunging Knight at the far post, but our deserved equaliser came in the 54th minute when Knight dispatched a penalty for his 13th goal of the season.

Words cannot describe how many times the Wingate forward line was able to get behind the Arlesey back four, only to fail to convert chance after chance.

The assembled travelling fans behind the goal that Wingate were attacking sensed that this wasn’t to be our day - and so it proved.

An Arlesey corner wreaked havoc in the Wingate six-yard box as the ball bobbled around for what seemed like an age - and eventually the sucker punch we all half expected came when James Sage finally put the ball in the net to end our FA Trophy dreams for another season.

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