Wingate into play-offs despite Dulwich defeat

Wingate & Finchley's Ahmet Rifat (pic Martin Addison)

Wingate & Finchley's Ahmet Rifat (pic Martin Addison) - Credit: Archant

Wingate & Finchley 0 Dulwich Hamlet 3

Wingate & Finchley secured a Ryman League Premier Division play-off place despite losing at home to promotion rivals Dulwich Hamlet on the final day of the regular season.

Wingate went into the game knowing a draw would be enough to finish in at least fifth spot, but after conceding a goal to Panutche Camara and a brace to Ibra Sekajja, all hopes rested on local rivals Enfield Town, who needed to avoid defeat to Leiston.

Things weren’t looking good as Leiston held a one-goal lead going into the final five minutes, but a late Enfield equaliser cued wild celebrations from the Wingate faithful in a crowd of 440.

There was an agonising wait after the final whistle had blown at the Maurice Rebak Stadium before it was confirmed that Enfield had held out.

Wingate’s game started frantically with chances at both ends, which created a lively atmosphere, especially since Dulwich had brought a sizeable away support.

The first big opportunity fell the way of Rob Laney, who must have thought he had scored when he got his head on a Reece Beckles-Richards cross from six yards out, but somehow Edwards managed to palm the ball away for a corner.

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Dulwich then went up the other end and should have taken the lead themselves but Nyren Clunis’ cross was put agonisingly wide by Sekajja when it looked easier to find the net.

Luke Ifil’s free-kick was then met by Ahmet Rifat, but he could only direct his header straight at Edwards, prompting a spell of Wingate pressure at the end of the first half.

And there was some controversy as Matt Drage, already on a booking for hauling down Beckles-Richards from a similar position outside the area, once again fouled the Wingate forward, and was lucky not to receive a second yellow card.

Wingate continued to play on the front foot in the second period, as Rifat volleyed narrowly over from inside the box.

But then Dulwich took control of the game as Sekajja beat the offside trap and rounded Shane Gore before slotting the ball into an empty net to break the deadlock three minutes after half-time.

Sekajja continued to haunt the Wingate defence and tapped in from six yards out for his second of the game on the hour, following good work down the right from Clunis.

Wingate continued to show fight and might have got back in the game had Sean Cronin’s header not been cleared off the line.

However, Dulwich secured the points with a quarter of an hour to play courtesy of substitute Camara, with Clunis again the provider as his cross was slammed home from inside the box.

Tommy Tejan-Sie saw his shot fly well over, but by then the Wingate fans were only concerned with what was happening at Enfield.

Rifat picked up a second booking for dissent late on, but it didn’t stop the celebrations once fifth place was confirmed and Wingate now travel to Bognor Regis Town on Thursday for the play-off semi-final.

Wingate: Gore, Williams, Abrahams, Young, Cronin, Rifat, Ifil, McCall (Figueira 72), Laney (Obafemi 71), Beckles-Richards, Tejan-Sie. Unused subs: Wales, Vilcu, Sharpe.