Wingate & Finchley signing Sean Cronin hopes his experience can help Blues to push for the play-offs

Sean Cronin leaps to win a header during Monday's victory over Maidenhead. Pic: Martin Addison

Sean Cronin leaps to win a header during Monday's victory over Maidenhead. Pic: Martin Addison - Credit: Archant

Sean Cronin is hoping his experience at the back can enable Wingate & Finchley to challenge for the Ryman League Premier Division play-offs this season.

Cronin, who joined the Blues from Hayes & Yeading over the summer and previously helped Wealdstone to win promotion to the Conference South, only turned 30 earlier this year.

But he will be expected to play a senior role in central defence during the new campaign, especially after the departure of long-serving Wingate captain Marc Weatherstone to Dulwich Hamlet.

“I’ve played against Marc a few times and I know the quality he’s got,” Cronin told Ham&High Sport. “But I know my capabilities and I’m sure I can help us to have a positive season.

“It does seem weird to consider myself one of the older boys now! When I first started playing football, some of the senior players around me helped me a lot and I’d like to think that I can help the younger boys around me now.

“We’ve got a good blend of experience and youth and I think that’ll stand us in good stead this season. I wouldn’t settle for mid-table and neither would the rest of the boys here.

“We want to try and achieve something and, if that means making the play-offs, I’m sure we can do that with the group we’ve got here and maybe put together a little cup run as well.

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“The boys are putting the graft into training – that’s showing on the pitch and we’ve just had two clean sheets in a row. As a centre-half, that’s what I look for more than goals.”

The Welshman revealed that the quality of the playing surface at the Abrahams Stadium helped convinced him to make the switch to north London.

“It’s a bit more local to where I live and there are days when I could do without having to travel around the M25 to get to games,” said Cronin.

“As an opposition player, coming to Wingate, you always looked forward to playing here because the pitch is one of the best in the league, if not the best, all year round. The chance to play on it week in, week out, was another draw – and the enthusiasm of [chairman] Aron [Sharpe] has helped a lot.”

Wingate have won all four of their pre-season games to date – most recently securing a 10-0 triumph at Rushden & Higham on Saturday before overcoming National League South side Maidenhead United 2-0 at home on Monday.

Both goals came midway through the second half. Substitute Tarum Dawkins collected Luke Ifil’s pass and fired home before Ryan Sellers, who was at Wycombe Wanderers last season, made it 2-0 with a left-foot screamer into the bottom corner.

The Blues continue their build-up to the new campaign with a trip to Chalfont St Peter on Saturday (3pm) before hosting Cronin’s former club Wealdstone on Tuesday (7.45pm).

“Unfortunately I’m missing that one because I’m getting married on Friday and I’ll be away on honeymoon,” added Cronin. “But the club were aware of that before I signed – I haven’t just sprung it on them!”

Meanwhile, Karl Oliyide - who has swapped Wingate for local rivals Hendon this summer - struck for his new club in a friendly against Margate on Tuesday.

However, the Greens lost 2-1 against the side that beat them in the play-off final in May 2015.