Wingate & Finchley began 2020 in similar fashion to 2019 – with a New Year’s Day loss at the hands of Haringey Borough. However, last year’s 4-0 defeat was a harsher lesson for the Blues than Wednesday’s narrow, 2-1 defeat – a game in which the Blues would have been fair game for a point.
Spencer Knight made five changes to the side that ended 2019 with a defeat to Potters Bar Town and the Blues made a solid start, winning duels in midfield and pushing the hosts back towards their own goal. Alex Read nearly found the net early on, but curled an effort just wide of the far post after three minutes.
The hosts punished Wingate with a sucker punch and Chiduben Onokwai converted from close range after good work down Haringey’s left wing – leaving the Blues chasing another deficit.
Read nearly equalised seven minutes later but headed just over from Luke Ifil’s cross from the right wing. However, it was third time lucky for the experienced striker. Bilal Sayoud’s cross was cut out at the back post but the Blues’ number nine was on hand to place the ball into the back of the net from close range to level affairs.
In hindsight, the Blues would go on to rue early second half chances as both Olumide Oluwatimilehin and Charlie Ruff dragged shots wide of the Haringey net. Once again, the Blues were punished. After losing the ball cheaply, a cross found an unmarked Georgios Aresti – who finished simply to regain the Haringey lead.
The Blues didn’t buckle though, and created chances to find another equaliser. Oluwatimilehin and Henry Ochieng saw their respective efforts saved by Jonathon Miles in the Haringey net while debutant Kane Farrell’s free-kick curled onto the crossbar; denying him a dream debut.
Haringey held on and left Knight’s team licking their wounds before heading to Cray Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.
Report by Nikhil Saglani