Wingate & Finchley earned a 1-1 draw away to Brightlingsea Regent in new manager Spencer Knight’s first match in charge, however the Blues will be wondering how they left the Taydal Stadium without all three points.
Eoin McKeown put the Blues ahead early on and a mass of Wingate chances followed, even through a second half which the hosts grew into. A late spell of pressure allowed Brightlingsea to equalise and neither side was able to grab a winner, with the woodwork coming to the hosts’ rescue.
The first ten minutes were fairly quiet, although Wingate showed early signs of intent. This start was rewarded with a goal after 13 minutes; a one-two between Tage Kennedy and Tanasheh Abrahams allowed the latter to get a cross in and despite Charlie Turner parrying away, he was unable to keep out McKeown who had a simple task of tapping in.
Wingate continued to apply pressure and had plenty of opportunities to widen their advantage. Within three minutes, two Luke Ifil crosses narrowly evaded Tommy Tejan-Sie and just after the half hour mark, Alan Fleming was played through on goal but saw his shot saved and eventually held by Turner.
The new look Blues side showed no signs of letting up in the whole first period and just before the break, goalscorer McKeown should have doubled his and Wingate’s tally; he was played in and had time to set himself before firing over the bar.
The second half began with Wingate momentum slowed down and as the half progressed, a combination of Brightlingsea pressure and Wingate wastefulness allowed the hosts to comfortably grow into the game.
A free kick whipped into the box was narrowly cleared away following a free header and soon after Billy Hunt drove a shot over the bar, serving a warning to the Blues that their missed chances could be taken advantage of by the hosts.
As the closing stages of the game drew in, it was Wingate who so nearly grabbed the second goal which would have ensured victory; McKeown was tackled but managed to retain the ball in the box before setting himself from around 8 yards out and hitting the outside of the post, leaving the midfielder’s head in his hands as to how the score had remained 1-0.
With 5 minutes remaining, as is so often the case, Wingate’s missed chances were punished. A Brightlingsea free kick deflected off an attacking player, causing Shane Gore to spill the ball and allowing Hunt to smash the ball home to the relief of the home fans.
Despite the demoralising nature of the goal, Blues pressure resumed and Knight’s side so nearly grabbed what would have been a deserved winner. From a free kick, the ball was crossed in and cleared but eventually fell to Luke Ifil. The right back struck a venomous shot which excruciatingly hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced onto and away from the goal line, effectively summing up Wingate’s afternoon.
Knight will certainly be able to draw positives from the match as his side showed ability to create chances, however the lack of a finisher is a cause for concern for a Wingate side languishing towards the bottom of the table.
Report by Jamie Grossman