Wingate and Finchley drew 1-1 against AFC Hornchurch in their first home game of the season. Veteran Hornchurch striker George Purcell’s first goal of the campaign gave Hornchurch an early lead.
But an equally quick goal at the start of the second half from Marc Charles-Smith levelled the game for Wingate. Only an excellent goalkeeping display from Callum Chafer prevented the Blues from victory, but they still secured their first point of the season following Saturday’s opening-game loss to Worthing.
Conversely, newly-promoted Hornchurch beat Leatherhead 3-0 at the weekend and it didn’t take them long to get off the mark in Finchley. Wingate failed to clear their lines six minutes in and Purcell capitalized, prodding the ball past Shane Gore with the outside of his left foot.
The Blues were restricted to just a few hopeful efforts in their attempt to find an equalizer before half-time, but if was shortly after the break that they finally found an opening. Reece Beckles-Richards’ cross found Charles-Smith, who headed through Chafer’s legs to pull Wingate level after 53 minutes.
Lewis Putman saw a snapshot saved in the midst of a goalmouth scramble before Chafer was again on hand to palm away Luke Ifil’s long shot. At the other end, Shane Gore did brilliantly to block Sean Marks’ effort from close range.
And half-way through seven minutes of injury-time, Chafer became Hornchurch’s hero again with an incredible reaction save to prevent Marc Weatherstone scoring from inside the six-yard box.
It was an incredibly organized, defensive performance from the visiting side and a point Wingate, happy to be off the mark, can be pleased with. Folkestone will visit the Maurice Rebak Stadium on Saturday.
Report by Andrew Gerlis