Wingate and Finchley held out for an impressive 0-0 draw against Conference South opposition Hemel Hempstead in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup. Despite the one division gap between the sides, Wingate defended superbly and ‘keeper Shane Gore made a number of super saves to keep the score goalless.
The opening exchanges of the match were cagey and neither team showed any real attacking intent early on. The first clear cut chance of the match came after 20 minutes, when Rowan Liburd shot from just inside the box after good passing by Hemel however the strike was at a good height for Gore and he collected with relative ease.
Wingate responded with some impressive attacking play – first Beckles-Richards received the ball 20 yards out and took it past a defender before he shot over and then Ben Pattie’s free kick from the wide left had to be tipped over by Hemel ‘keeper Laurie Walker.
The Blues’ clearest chance of the half came when Pattie placed a pass in the path of Beckles-Richards who made an incisive run into the box, with Rob Laney in support, however he attempted a low shot which was saved by Walker. The second half showed much more evidence of both sides’ attacking intent and 10 minutes after the restart, Beckles-Richards’ strike, although it lacked power, challenged the keeper.
Hemel arguably should’ve taken the lead on the hour mark, as captain Jordan Parkes’ curling free kick was palmed over by Gore. Wingate continued to push forward for a winner and Spencer McCall’s low shot after a clever one-two with Beckles-Richards was perhaps the closest that either came in the closing minutes of the game.
Pattie’s free kick from the edge of the box, which soared wide of Walker’s goal, was the last genuine opportunity of the match, which fizzled out in the last 10 minutes. Hemel will be disappointed to have struggled to break down a team of the division below, but Wingate go into Tuesday’s replay encouraged by Saturday’s match and with genuine hopes of reaching the next round.
Report by Jamie Grossman