Wingate & Finchley came back from 2-1 down to beat Folkestone Invicta 3-2 at Summers Lane, as fans truly felt the love on Valentine’s Day. Rob Laney’s late winner ended a run of three straight defeats in all competitions and moves Wingate up to 6th position, just one place outside the play-off spots.
Early efforts from Spencer McCall and Ben Pattie were easily claimed by Tim Roberts. However, the first half struggled to get going as both sides squandered possession continuously, but Ahmet Rifat nearly put the hosts ahead on 25 minutes, but could only find the side netting with his half volley from a half-cleared corner kick.
Ten minutes later, Tommy Tejan-Sie cut inside two men and rifled an effort towards goal but Frankie Chappell was on hand to head off the line and keep the score at 0-0. In the dying embers of the half, Shane Gore made a superb save, pushing a long-range effort onto the crossbar before palming the rebound away to safety. McCall also tried his luck from range but Roberts held well and the half ended 0-0.
Within nine minutes of the restart, Steve Wales – back into the starting eleven – put the Blues ahead. Ryan Sellers’ burst down the left wing saw him cut the ball back to Ben Pattie, whose shot-cum-cross found Wales at the back post to tap home the opener. Minutes later, Gore and Sellers combined to keep Wingate ahead, saving and blocking a double chance from close range. On 62 minutes, Rifat saw a header from a corner cleared off the line as Wingate looked to press home their early second half advantage.
But on 69 minutes, Ian Draycott levelled for the visitors. Phil Starkey squared across the box for the number nine, who had the simple task of placing the ball into the back of the net. Ten minutes later, Draycott doubled his tally. Another ball across the box found the striker in space and he fired high into the net to turn the game on it’s head.
But, as Keith Rowland’s side have shown on numerous occasions in recent months, the game was not over. On 85 minutes, substitute Reece Beckles-Richards levelled. A Wales corner was sent goalbound by Sean Cronin, with Beckles-Richards on hand to finish with a cheeky overhead kick – and Wingate had time to press for a winner.
That goal arrived on 88 minutes, via fans’ favourite Rob Laney. Luke Ifil’s cross-field ball found Beckles-Richards, who pierced the defence with a through ball to Tejan-Sie. The creative midfielder rifled a cross into the six-yard box and Laney was on hand to prod home, courtesy of a goalkeeping error, to give the Blues all three points.
WingateTV: Rob Laney Post Folkestone Invicta + Highlights: HERE
Report by Nikhil Saglani