Wingate & Finchley exited the Buildbase FA Trophy at the hands of Hemel Hempstead in the Second Round proper on Saturday afternoon. Despite going 4-0 down just after half time, Glen Little’s side battled back and reduced the deficit to just two goals; but were unable to find the net again.
The opening quarter of an hour saw both sides attempting to figure each other out, with few chances of note. Wingate’s Reece Beckles’ early cross was comfortably held by Laurie Walker before Jordan Parkes dragged a shot wide of the Wingate net ten minutes later.
On 19 minutes, the hosts took the lead. Despite a hint of offside, Darren Ward was able to stab home from inside the six yard box after Wingate failed to clear their lines from a corner. Little’s side responded well to going one down and Sean Cronin sliced a shot over the crossbar on 26 minutes, before Ahmet Rifat struck the post with a deft header just two minutes later. And the Blues’ lack of finishing touch was punished just five minutes later when Sanchez Watt seemed to have beaten the offside trap and smartly lobbed the onrushing Shane Gore to double Hemel's lead.
Just before half time, Hemel seemed to have hammered the final nail into the Wingate coffin, with Ward grabbing a brace by heading a Parkes corner in at the near post.
And after the break, the game looked to have been killed off as Watt grabbed his brace with a smart finish past a helpless Gore.
However, the fourth goal - and some raucous away support - seemed to galvanise the Blues. Lewis Putman swung in a deep corner, seemingly overhit, but Captain Cronin rose to loop his header into the far corner and restore some pride. But the Blues’ hopes were raised again just two minutes later as Putman was brought down inside the area after some quick footwork. Cronin stepped up and sent Walker the wrong way to make it 4-2 with over 30 minutes remaining.
Led by a surge of momentum, Wingate saw a free-kick from Putman fly over and a header from Rifat fly just wide before ex-Blue, Scott Shulton blazed over for the hosts.
However Hemel used their higher level experience to effectively slow down and see out the game. The Blues fans left Vauxhall Road proud of their players’ response and pleased to avoid an embarrassing result on the road. Wingate turn their attention to the London Senior Cup on Tuesday night, hosting Brentford B before travelling to Lewes in the League on Saturday.
Report by Nikhil Saglani