Wingate and Finchley suffered a poor 3-1 defeat at the hands of Burgess Hill Town on Thursday night. The first half was packed with chances for both sides, the first of which falling to Hafeez Sanusi for Burgess Hill. The striker was played through on goal and tried to chip Shane Gore but saw his attempt fall just short of the goal. However, he was on hand to head into an empty net and send the hosts into the lead with just over 10 minutes played.
Wingate could have equalised ten minutes after the goal when Afolabi Obafemi evaded a defender’s challenge and shot but Josh James tipped it wide. This chance sparked a string of close attempts for both sides. First, Layne Eadie crossed for Freddy Moncur whose scuffed attempt was cleared off the line by Tom Cadman. The ball fell to Obafemi out wide and his cross was met by a Marc Charles-Smith header however Burgess Hill managed to scramble the ball away before it crossed the line, somehow preserving their lead.
Sanusi then had a chance to double his tally for the night as he dispossessed Jake Eales and shot against the post. Pat Harding found the ball at his feet as a result and should have scored but Gore made a good save to keep him out. Just two minutes before half time, Burgess Hill should have strengthened their lead once again when Lee Harding received the ball from a cross and had the goal at his mercy but Gore heroically kept it out to keep the score at 1-0 and Wingate in the match.
However only seven minutes into the second period, the hosts finally got their second goal. Lee Harding took advantage of a mix-up in the Wingate defence and slotted past Gore from inside the box. Few meaningful chances followed the second goal for either side, with Sean Cronin and Harding coming he closest in the following 20 minutes – the former sliced wide from a corner and the latter saw a shot cleared off the line by Ola Williams with the resultant corner tipped over by Gore.
Despite the lack of chances in the second half, Wingate got themselves a lifeline with just under ten minutes remaining.. Eadie put the ball across goal and despite James getting a touch, it fell to Irnti Rapai who scored his third goal in three games to give the Blues hope. Although Wingate seemed to have the impetus to equalise after scoring, only a couple of minutes later, Burgess Hill substitute Josh Greenleaf received the ball after a scramble in the Wingate box and let a ferocious shot loose into the roof of the net to restore the hosts’ two goal lead.
This defeat leaves Wingate in ninth and with the playoffs looking almost impossible to achieve, the Blues will be hoping to end the season positively and return to winning ways at home to Kingstonian on Saturday.
Report by Jamie Grossman