True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the home win over Grays Athletic
- Credit: Archant
The Ham&High’s Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler - who won the club’s inaugural Supporter of the Year award on Saturday - looks back at the weekend’s 1-0 home win over Grays Athletic.
Following back-to-back home defeats against a couple of distinctly average sides, it was imperative that the Blue Gods bounced back at home against Grays Athletic and stopped the rot, going into the Christmas break on a high.
Danny Nielsen made two changes to his line-up after the lacklustre performance against Kingstonian on Tuesday. Ronaynne Marsh-Brown replaced Paul Wright at left-back and Ola Sogbanmu was drafted into central midfield at the expense of Barnet loanee Iffy Allen, offering some much-needed muscle in the middle of the park.
It was also a big boost to see tricky winger Karl Oliyide returning to the substitutes’ bench some two months after he picked up the injury which had ruled him out.
The first half was a rather unispiring affair, with both sides playing not to lose. The closest we came to breaking the deadlock was a couple of long-range efforts that Connor Gough in the Grays goal dealt with routinely.
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At the other end, Bobby Smith was his usual immaculate self when he saved smartly at close range, but the linesman’s flag was already raised for offside and the goal would not have counted anyway.
I am not sure what Nielsen and/or Dave Norman said to the lads at half-time, but they came out for the second period with a completely different demeanor.
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The physical presence of Sogbanmu in the engine room was proving an effective weapon against the more creative players in the opposition line-up, which afforded not only protection for the back four but also gave our two wingers Richard Graham and Tommy Tejan-Sie the room to operate.
Although we weren’t exactly pulverising Grays, we did look like the team most likely to snatch all three points - and so it proved when David Knight bent his run to stay onside, latched onto a through ball and slotted home to net his 23rd goal of the season, leaving him as the league’s highest scorer at Christmas.
The only three further noteworthy incidents from the second half were Oliyide making his scheduled return from the bench - he was soon bamboozling the opposition full-backs with his mixture of energy, pace and trickery - Knight uncharacteristically missing a one on one with the keeper and what looked like a nasty injury to captain Marc Weatherstone. But he was soon back on his feet sporting a gash on his leg.
This win leaves Wingate on 38 points at Christmas, in seventh place and one point from the play-offs. Most importantly we are only four more wins away from safety.
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