Wingate and Finchley produced a valiant display as they equalised twice to tie 2-2 against Cheshunt at the Maurice Rebak Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The hosts started brightly, and immediately imposed themselves on the high-flying visitors with a high-intensity approach, stringing together some fine passing sequences.
On the quarter-hour mark, another rapid passing move saw the ball shifted to Yannick Kissi on the left flank, and his tempting cross found Billy Healey, but his header was straight at the keeper.
At the other end, The Blues’ defence began to be asked serious questions, and just before the break, a Cheshunt free kick, destined for the top corner, was palmed round the post by Fergal Hale-Brown, to keep the scores level at half-time.
The start of the second half saw increased pressure from The Ambers, and they took the lead on the hour mark after Jamie Reynolds rifled the ball into the far corner.
Spencer Knight turned to his bench, bringing on Suleiman Bakalandwa, and he caused problems for the visitors’ defence from the start, combining neatly with Luke Ifil, whose cross was glanced just over by Charlie Edwards.
A few minutes later, Bakalandwa was crucial again as he was sped past a Cheshunt defender down the left flank and played a delightful ball across the face of goal, where Edwards made no mistake as he slid home to make the score 1-1.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, the momentum was with The Blues, but the visitors produced a late sucker-punch, as a quick break found its way to Anderson Pinto, who drilled the ball past Hale-Brown into the bottom corner.
However, Wingate refused to accept defeat. Spencer Knight introduced Goldy Capela and the hosts pressed relentlessly for the equaliser.
As the fourth official was about to hoist the added-time board, a Bilal Sayoud cross was flicked on by Edwards to the back post, where Capela was on hand to plant the ball into the roof of the net, to set up a nail-biting finale.
Deep into added time, Cheshunt raced towards goal, but Hale-Brown was on hand again to claw the ball away, setting up a rapid Wingate counter-attack, The ball found its way to Ifil on the edge of the Cheshunt box, and his goal bound effort was cleared off the line.
The referee brought an end to this breathless match, but the home fans stayed until well after the final whistle to applaud their team for this excellent, battling performance.
Report by Ben Feldman