Wingate & Finchley grabbed a massive three points as they ran out 3-1 winners over play-off rivals Leatherhead. The first fifteen minutes saw both sides work the ball fairly well however neither could fashion an opening. Despite the early lack of creativity, the first goal came after 17 minutes. The ball fell to Reece Beckles-Richards after Marc Charles-Smith’s shot was blocked and the winger took a touch before a superb, deft finish from outside the box to give Wingate a precious lead.
Just one minute later, Leatherhead should have equalised. A corner by Sean Clohessy fell to Reece Williams-Bowers whose shot from close range was straight at Shane Gore. Ten minutes before the break, Wingate were gifted a chance to double their lead. Charles-Smith was taken out in the box and the penalty, in the absence of regular taker Sean Cronin, was converted by left-back Nathan Mavila who sent the keeper the wrong way.
The hosts recognised Leatherhead’s defensive frailties and continued to exploit them. Charles-Smith and Beckles-Richards, the same combination as the first goal, linked up again as the former picked a perfect pass to the latter who took his time and placed a composed finish past a helpless Zaki Oualah. As the half-time whistle went, Wingate seemed in complete control of the match at 3-0.
The Tanners came out with much more purpose in the second period and Nathan Wood saw an attempt from outside the area well saved by Gore. Substitute Wood continued to threaten for Leatherhead and nearly scored when he met a cross from the left and his header across goal went wide. The visitors did pull a goal back on 85 minutes when Jack Midson reacted quickly after Wood’s shot was saved and finished into an empty net. Wingate nerves rose as Leatherhead appeared to grab another goal however it was ruled out for offside.
The match finished 3-1 and although Wingate remain in 6th place, this win puts clear daylight between them and Leatherhead which could be crucial going into the tail-end of the season.
Report by Jamie Grossman