Wingate and Finchley played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with league leaders Billericay Town on Saturday. The first half, despite possession being largely dominated by Billericay, saw a lack of meaningful opportunities even though both sides threatened from crosses.
The only chance of note was Danny Waldren’s shot from inside the box which flew wide of Shane Gore’s right post. However, the game sprang into life just two minutes into the second half. Layne Eadie held the ball on the left hand side before whipping a cross into the box that was headed on by Joe Kizzi and eventually fell to Reece Beckles-Richards. The winger struck a half-volley that nestled in the back of the net with Alan Julian rooted to the spot to give Wingate a surprise lead.
The Blues nearly doubled their advantage in the next minute when the ball fell to Ahmet Rifat outside the box and the midfielder hit a first time curler but Julian was able to punch wide. Wingate continued to apply pressure and were given a golden chance to get their second goal when the referee gave a penalty for handball. Sean Cronin stepped up and duly converted, finishing powerfully into the bottom left corner and sending Julian the wrong way.
Billericay seemed unable to cope with Wingate in the first part of the second period and nearly conceded a third when Eadie broke down the left and cut inside before attempting to beat Julian at the near post but the keeper saved. However, the match turned on 65 minutes when Billericay pulled one back. Jake Eales failed to clear effectively after Ricky Modeste’s pass and Matt Paine controlled the ball on the edge of the box before placing an effort past Gore despite the Wingate keeper getting fingertips to the shot.
From that point the hosts seemed to be in the driving seat and were helped when Jack Humphrey received a second yellow for a foul and Wingate were reduced to 10 men.
Billericay began to dominate possession and create chances as the game went into its closing stages and struck the woodwork when Dean Inman’s header hit the top of the bar from a free kick. The chances continued to flow but both Sam Deering, who met the ball at the back post from a free kick but was denied superbly by Gore, and Adam Cunnington who headed wide from a few yards out were unable to equalise as the game reached stoppage time.
In stoppage time, when Jake Robinson received the ball in the box saw his low shot somehow saved by Gore’s leg, it appeared that Wingate had done enough to secure the victory. However, Billericay managed to carve out one last chance. Modeste’s cross was headed down by Cunnington and Deering, after dribbling past Sean Cronin, had the simple task of poking past Gore from close range to earn a last-gasp equaliser for the hosts.
Despite the frustration of conceding so late, Wingate can be proud of their performance against the league leaders and will look towards their match away at Lowestoft Town on Tuesday night.
Report by Jamie Grossman
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