Ahmet Rifat’s solitary goal was enough to see out Wingate’s first win in five games and relegate Grays Athletic. The Gravelmen had been in disastrous form since the turn of the year, taking just three wins from 15 games in 2017, and their departure from the Ryman Premier League after four years was confirmed at the sound of the final whistle.
Ahmet Rifat’s goal separated the sides after 90 minutes, but The Blues had enough chances to record a more comfortable scoreline. Wingate have struggled of late too - their last win came on March 7th - but though Keith Rowland’s men are now ninth a tight Premier League table means they sit just two points off third place. Wingate’s Shane Gore was the first goalkeeper called into action, making two saves in quick succession to deny Joao Carlos and Isaac Layne.
Ben Pattie curled a free kick just wide of Amadou Tangara’s post before Reece Beckles-Richards and Luke Ifil spurned a couple of close and long-range chances each. Joe Payne again forced Gore into a save with a stinging effort from outside the box before Rifat put the hosts 1-0 up.
Meeting Pattie’s 37th minute corner inside the six yard box the captain headed the ball across goal and into the bottom corner, despite the best efforts of Payne on the line. Rob Laney also got his head on a corner just before half time but Tangara held the ball and Wingate took their slender lead into the break. Beckles-Richards had two excellent chances to double the host’s lead after the restart, but watched Tangara tip his long-range effort over the bar before blocking his curling shot when it might have been easier to square to a wide-open Laney a couple of minutes later.
The striker then fired straight into Tangara’s feet when Rifat’s shot deflected to him inside the box and had a goal ruled out for offside when he followed an Ifil shot that the goalkeeper had spilled. A chance for Kieran Bishop with five minutes left saw the striker fire well over Wingate’s net in acres of space and, despite the home side’s chances, the game finished 1-0.
Wingate travel to Merstham next week, where a win would go a long way to guaranteeing a top-half finish. For Jamie Stuart’s Grays Athletic, their season and time in the Ryman Premier League is now over.
WingateTV Tommy Tejan Sie & Ahmet Rifat Post Grays Athletic: HERE
Report by Andy Gerlis