Halloween may have been yesterday but Wingate and Finchley still survived a couple of scares to come out on top of an eight-goal “thriller” against Kings Langley in the FA Youth Cup.
The Blues made it to First Round Proper in the competition last season and Thursday’s game provided an opportunity to go one better for the first time in their history.
An early penalty had them believing, but a quick turnaround from Langley saw the home side trailing at half-time.
But Wingate scored more than the visitors in a five-goal second-half and ensured safe passage to a first-ever Second Round Proper match at home to Andover.
Barely two minutes had been played before Simeon Olarerin, as was to become somewhat of a theme, caused havoc in Langley’s box before being brought down.
Adam Morris converted the penalty, but it was a different set-piece that levelled the sides 20 minutes later after numerous spurned chances.
Kieran Shepherd’s corner floated over everybody and straight into the back of the net, before Louie Collier gave the away side the lead with a smart finish across Wingate’s Jonti Purdom.
The second-half took a while to kick into gear, but it continued accelerating right until the very end.
It was another set-piece that started the action on the hour mark, Ruben Carvalho curling a delightful free-kick across goal and into the top corner to pull Wingate level.
And Olarerin completed the turnaround four minutes later with a cool finish across Elis Bunker driving into the box.
The Blues could have been out of sight, but Johnny Gill’s shot hit both post and defender before slipping just wide.
And Jack Barley made them rue that missed chance when he tapped home a cross to put Langley back on level terms with just under 20 minutes left.
Not ones to be silenced though, Wingate continued to push forward and Keyonte Willoughby-Williams turned his man before hitting a left-footed shot into the bottom corner to hand Wingate the lead.
And Carvalho put the icing on the cake in injury-time, catching Langley’s defence napping after a quick free-kick and slotting the ball under Bunker to make it 5-3.
Wingate will host Andover at home in the Second Round Proper, date TBC. Whatever the result, this side can be proud of creating a piece Wingate history with their FA Youth Cup run this season.
Star Man: Simeon Olarerin
Referee: Tom Cooke
Wingate & Finchley: Jonti Purdom (GK), Ryan Murphy, Mohamed Amin Mohamed, Jacob Adeyemi, William Morris ©, Billy Hayes (David Omoboriowo-Ola, 85’), Simeon Olarerin, Archie Morris (Abdishakur Farah, 45’), Keyonte Willoughby-Williams, Ruben Carvalho, Liam Mulligan (Johnny Gill, 45’)
Unused subs: Adam Morris, Kieron Brown-Matthews
King’s Langley: Elis Bunker (GK), Tyreeq White, Adam Sawyer, Jack Harvey Barley, Ben Wooton, Tom Littleboy, Josh Mantle, Victor Williams 9 Edu Toni Pendra, Louie Collier ©, Kieran Shepherd
Subs: Denturiy Edema (GK), Luke Beckwith 16. Tom Justin 18. James Glyn
Report by Andrew Gerlis