Ibrahima Sonko’s last ever game ended in regretful fashion as Wingate & Finchley ran out 1-0 winners at The Harlow Arena; and it was Sonko who gave away the penalty for Sean Cronin’s late winner. The game was a classic tale of two halves as the visitors dominated the opening 45 minutes but were pegged back after half-time, until their winner.
The first chance of the game fell to Ned Clarke, in the first minute, but his effort from just inside the area flew over the bar, after the young striker had done well to keep the ball close to him against the Harlow defence. At the other end, Fabion Simms headed towards goal but Shane Gore was on hand to hold easily. The hosts’ closest chance of the half came from Robbie Martin’s left-sided cross, which curled past everyone inside the area and struck the far post before racing away to safety.
The period from 20 minutes onwards saw a succession of Wingate corners. The first came from Reece Beckles-Richards’ deflected effort, which David Hughes had to scramble to push behind for a corner. The third of theses said corners was cleared to Layne Eadie, whose quick control and cross found Sean Cronin. The centre half controlled like a cultured centre-forward, turned and struck towards goal from 10 yards out but it was held by Hughes.
Afolabi Obafemi was involved in two Wingate chances towards the end of the half. The first saw him played in on goal by Isaac Ebelebe but, just as he was about to pull the trigger, he was prevented by a flying Aaron Jones challenge and the hosts cleared. Minutes later, the striker played Luke Alfano in on goal but the young midfielder chose to pass instead of shoot, and Harlow were able to clear the ball to safety.
The first chance after half time should have been the opener. Alex Read beat the Wingate offside trap, rounded Gore but took too many touches and fired his effort into the side netting from a tight angle. Read’s next chance saw him race clear after dispossessing Jake Eales, but Cronin’s experience found him in the right place and he was able to prevent an opener. A double Wingate sub brought some experience to the field and it began to tell as the Blues wrestled control back.
Neither side were able to create a chance until Obafemi ran into the box and was upended by Sonko, who had come on as a substitute, in his final career game. Cronin stepped up and sent Hughes the wrong way, earning Wingate a valuable three points to secure ninth place in the Bostik Premier League.
The win brought another positive season to an end and saw the visitors finish in the top half for the third time since joining the Isthmian Premier Division five seasons ago.
Report by Nikhil Saglani