Own goal 82
Wingate and Finchley returned to league action with a hard fought 2-1 home victory over Folkestone Invicta, on a bitterly cold winter afternoon at the Maurice Rebak Stadium. It was a thoroughly impressive performance from the Blues, who ended the visitors’ eight game winning run – the second best streak in the top seven tiers of English football.
Afolabi Obafemi’s goal gave Wingate an early lead, before Marc Charles-Smith netted what proved to be the winner in the second half. Keith Rowland’s side could have been further up when a Claudiu Vilcu own goal gave Folkestone hope, but it turned out to be a consolation. The opener came after just four minutes when Charles-Smith did well to hold the ball up for Rob Laney, whose cross was met at the front post by Obafemi. The striker flicked the ball home to give Wingate the perfect start.
Folkestone responded with McCann’s low drive that was heading for the bottom corner, until Shane Gore turned it behind. It could have been more than 1-0 at the break, but when Luke Ifil played in goalscorer Obafemi, his shot went just over the crossbar. Sean Cronin's effort from the edge of the box was then was parried away by Roberts. Once again it was Obafemi who found himself through on goal after more good hold up play from Charles-Smith, but the striker’s shot flashed wide of the post.
Back at the other end, Hasler’s free-kick was tipped over by Gore, and several Wingate defenders blocked Newman’s shot on the line, to preserve the Blues’ lead. After the break it was that same combination of Charles-Smith and Obafemi who almost produced a goal. The former whipped in a cross that deflected off the defender, and Obafemi, before flying over. Wingate were quick out of the blocks in the second half as Quentin Monville raced through on goal, but he could not find a way past Roberts in the Folkestone goal.
The Blues did double their advantage seven minutes after the restart. After a scramble in the box, the ball fell to Charles-Smith, who was on hand to finish superbly into the corner. The away side almost got back into the game when Dolan’s cross-come-shot looped onto the roof of the net, before McCann had the goal at his mercy, but somehow managed to shoot straight at Gore when it looked easier to score.
Folkestone continued to pile on the pressure as Yusuff got in behind the Wingate defence, but Gore was out of his goal quickly to smother the ball and protect Wingate’s lead. The visitors were handed a lifeline when Vilcu turned a cross from the right into his own net on debut. But when O’Mara headed wide from a corner, Wingate had done enough to take all three points and continue their own fine form.
Next up for Wingate is Wednesday’s Middlesex Charity Cup fixture at home to Hanwell Town, kick off 7:45pm.
WingateTV: Quentin Monville & Marc Charles Smith post Folkestone Invicta: HERE
Report by Sam Jones