Wingate & Finchley ended the festive fixtures, and kicked-off 2017 with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Westleigh Park against high-flying Havant & Waterlooville.
The hosts started in blistering form, but were met by an inspired Shane Gore. First, Alfie Rutherford broke away but placed over following pressure from the commanding goalkeeper. James Hayter followed suit in the same fashion, who couldn't break the deadlock from close.
Rob Laney hustled for possession prior to playing Steve Wales down the inside right channel who fired wide across goal. At the other end, Rory Williams bombarded up the left flank targeting Rutherford whose volley found the side-netting.
Jordan Gibbons broke on the right, his cross looking for Laney was headed clear only as far as Ahmet Rifat, who sent a 25-yard attempt back towards goal at a comfortable height for Ryan Young. Luke Ifil curled narrowly wide of Young's right-hand post from 20-yards as the ebb and flow continued.
Williams broke away on a counter up the left, played inside to Hayter who found Bradley Tarbuck wide right, but his low drive was palmed away down low by Gore. Andreas Robinson collected Sellers clearance, found Rutherford who trickled his way into the area off playing a one-two with Tarbuck, but Sean Cronin made a last-ditch clearance to guide his strike away from goal.
The Blues almost took the lead against the run of play. Laney broke well to the right byline crossing low and hard finding Reece Beckles-Richards sliding in, who was denied from 2-yards by the frame of Young. On the stroke of 34 minutes, The Hawks found themselves ahead. Rutherford paced away before playing in Williams, whose low driven cross found its way through to Matt Patterson to fire with clout into the bottom corner.
Following the restart, Sellers floated in a free-kick which caused a collision between Young and Williams, Ifil subsequently collected the loose ball but his guided 30-yard lob went wide. Keith Rowland's outfit were 1-0 down, and down to 10-men following Beckles-Richards' untimely challenge on Lee Molyneaux with 22 minutes remaining. Spencer McCall, making his Wingate return, and Afolabi Obafemi, making his club debut, entered the proceedings and brought calmness in possession as Wingate clawed back momentum. The latter trickled into the area following a mesmerising run, only to be denied his opening goal in front of the away fans through Dan Strugnell's last-ditch block from close.
Rutherford was kept to firing over from long-range, before a deserved equaliser arrived in a free-flowing four-way move, two minutes from the end. Rifat dispossessed Rutherford, played Laney away who cut-back to Sellers, his pin-point left flank cross saw majestic midfielder Tejan-Sie send a looping header goalwards as the ball trickled in under the bar.
WingateTV: Tommy Tejan Sie & Rob Laney Post Havant & Waterlooville: HERE
Report by Khalid Karimullah