Wingate & Finchley’s stuttering start to the season continued at The Harlow Arena following a first-half, three-goal deficit, which The Blues couldn’t overturn.
Keith Rowlands’ side started on the front foot. A well-worked combination from Ryan Sellers’ corner gave an unmarked Luke Ifil time to whip in a cross which fell to the feet of Steve Wales, whose shot was blocked by the frame of Ibrahima Sonko. Rob Laney, making his 100th appearance for the men in Blue, almost found the net with 18 minutes on the clock. Sellers ran onto a loose ball before his drilled strike took a deflection towards the centurion, who agonisingly saw his half-volleyed attempt go wide of the post.
Just five minutes later, the hosts found the opening goal. Set-pieces has so far proved to be the visitors shortcomings this season, and Harlow took full advantage. Mario Noto’s free-kick arrived at the feet of an unmarked Jared Small six-yards from goal, who flicked a looped ball into the far corner of the net. It was soon 2-0 after 28 minutes; Joe Benjamin cut across from right-to-left 18-yards from goal feeding a pass to the overlapping Layne Eadie, who burst into the area prior to his shot finding its way inside the near-post.
The home side capped off a ten-minute spell with a third. Noto’s free-kick found Small who forced an initial reaction save from Shane Gore, though the ‘keeper could do nothing to stop Alex Read tapping-in on the rebound. Wales, Reece Beckles and Laney combined just before half-time with Wingate’s best move of the match, but the latters attempt to find the near corner of the net was deflected wide by Sonko.
Despite Rowland playing his cards early into the second-half bringing on top goalscorer from last season, Billy Healey, The Hawks almost found a fourth. Benjamin broke into the area picking out Small, who had plenty of time to place an attempt at the far-post, though Gore somehow denied him.
At the other end, Rob Ogleby found Laney cutting inside who rolled his effort past a relieved David Hughes and the post, before Sonko saw red for bringing down Rob Hastings who was through on goal. Sellers stepped-up in an attempt to give his side some hope, but found his free-kick sail over the bar.
Certainly one to forget for the Summers Lane outfit, who’ll have a chance to bounce back quickly when playing host to Havant & Waterlooville on Bank Holiday Monday.
Report by Khalid Karimullah