True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the draw against Hampton & Richmond
- Credit: Archant
The Ham&High’s Wingate & Finchley blogger reflects on Saturday’s home game against Hampton & Richmond Borough as the Blues fought back from two goals down to gain 2-2 draw in the Ryman League Premier Division.
Wingate & Finchley fans are an extraordinarily realistic bunch. At no time during our brilliant start to the season has anybody allowed themselves to look at the situation with their glass half full.
Since our first three points of the season, we have been slowly counting down how many points we need to make it to the magic 50 mark, which we believe will see us safe from any possibility of relegation.
As soon as the final whistle blew on Saturday, following our 2-2 draw at home against Hampton & Richmond Borough, one of our supporters immediately said “18 points”. Another followed up with “six more wins” and a third quipped “that almost seems achievable”. However, his optimism was soon beaten down by the naturally pessimistic demeanor of our collective.
At half-time, gaining a point from this game and threfore moving to within 18 points of safety seemed rather unlikely following what can only be described as one of the worst halves of football I have ever seen by a Wingate side.
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Our opponents endured a torrid start to their league campaign and, for a number of weeks, were propping up the table - we also breezed past them 4-1 during this period.
However the Beavers have clearly found their feet since then, and a number of impressive results - including a 2-0 triumph over league leaders Margate last Saturday – took them into midtable.
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Our head coach Daniel Nielsen made two changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Leiston last weekend, with Paul Wright coming in at left-back for his first league start of the season, replacing the suspended Royanne Marsh-Brown. Veteran midfielder Stuart Lake also returned to the starting line-up to face his old side, replacing Ola Sogbanmu, who dropped to the bench.
Within 10 minutes the visitors had taken the lead when a speculative shot from distance which caught the unsighted Bobby Smith unawares and whistled past him.
At this point it was mainly one-way traffic and Bobby had to be on his toes to prevent Hampton from doubling their lead on more than one occasion.
On the 27-minute mark the inevitable happened. Thomas Collins received a through ball that pierced the Wingate rearguard, and his shot flew past the groping hand of our keeper and broke the net.
At this point it looked like Hampton could score a hatful and they even managed to hit the woodwork just before the half-time break.
I obviously have no idea what was said in the respective dressing rooms at the interval but the second-half display by The Blue Gods was unrecognisable to the sluggish effort of the first.
We started to pile on the pressure and eventually pulled a goal back via an own goal from a fantastically delivered free kick into the danger zone by David Knight.
At this point all the confidence Hampton had gained from their stupendous first-half display seemed to drain from them. A Richard Graham through ball freed Knight, who dragged his effort just wide as the Wingate faithful prayed for an equaliser and the clock ticked towards full time.
The leveller arrived in the 84th minute when Ahmet Rifat played in Rob Laney, who was hauled down by the opposition keeper.
Knight confidently stroked home the penalty and a Hampton player was given his marching orders for an unknown offence during the melee that surrounded the penalty decision.
Next up with have Cray Wanderers in the London Senior Cup on Tuesday night at Summers Lane.