Steve Clark’s new-look Wingate and Finchley took a point from their first game of the season, drawing 1-1 away at newly-promoted Bowers & Pitsea.
Wind played a huge part in a game where chances were a premium for both sides, but the Blues took the lead through Olumide Oluwatimilehin’s sensational debut strike in the first half.
But a second-half equaliser from former Wingate striker David Knight meant both sides shared the points on the first day of the new campaign.
A good foundation for the Blues to build on, Clark will be thrilled to get his first point on the board from game one.
The wind whistled around the Len Salmon stadium throughout Saturday afternoon and even during the warm-ups it became evident that the weather would play a big part in the game.
Both sides struggled to keep the ball on the deck and, once in the air, it blew around wildly making build-up play difficult for both sides.
Wingate’s Charlie Cole had the first big chance of the game, riding a tackle before forcing Callum Chafer into a save with his feet at the near post.
But with ten minutes left of the half Oluwatimilehin, on his debut, lined up a sensational shot from all of 30 yards that flew past Chafer and into the roof of the net to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Bowers could have been level at the break were it not for Layne Eadie being in the right place to hack Callum Leahy’s shot of the line in added time.
24 second-half minutes passed before any glimpse of a chance for either side, but it was worth the wait for the hosts.
A quick break-away saw a low ball played across the box and Knight was in position, as usual, to tuck the equaliser home with ease.
Knight may have given his side the lead shortly after but Wingate’s new captain Shane Gore was placed well to tip the striker’s dipping volley over the bar.
At the other end, Marvin Morgan might have won the game for Wingate but dragged his shot across goal when put clean through by Tage Kennedy.
In the end the points were shared and neither Bowers, newcomers to the Isthmian Premier League, nor Wingate, who almost took Bowers’ place in Step 4 football last season, came away feeling cheated out of all three.
Report by Andrew Gerlis