Wingate & Finchley earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory at home to Leatherhead on Saturday, courtesy of a first half goal by Marc Charles-Smith.
Whilst it was a game of two halves, new manager Nicky Shorey will undoubtedly be happy with not only Wingate’s ability to score but also their resilience to defend when under pressure.
The first 15 minutes of the match, whilst largely controlled by Wingate, saw few chances and only a couple of wayward shots. The deadlock was broken in the 18th minute when Charles-Smith, who was played through by a smart pass from Reece Beckles-Richards, finished coolly beyond Zaki Oualah to give the Blues the lead.
Wingate continued to cause Leatherhead problems, with David Manu forcing Oualah into a smart save on the half hour mark. The Tanners nearly drew level before the break when a shot by Shaun Okojie took a wicked deflection and hit the bar, leaving Shane Gore stranded.
The match was more even in the early stages of the second half, with both sides having chances; substitute Alfie Cue forced Gore into a good save with a powerful strike and Marc Weatherstone lashed a fierce shot into the side netting when the ball fell to him from a corner.
As the second period progressed, Leatherhead began to control the match and the chances came thick and fast – Thomas Cooney’s flashed ball wasn’t met by a man in green and then Gore made an impressive save following a scramble in the box.
As the pressure from the visitors became more and more intense, the Wingate defence and more specifically, goalkeeper became more resolute. Elliot Benyon nearly drew his side level with a shot from close range but Gore, typically of his afternoon, kept it out with a low stop.
The Tanners had one last opportunity to grab a point in stoppage time when a free kick was given on the edge of the box, which also resulted in Luke Ifil receiving a red card for Wingate. Gore stood strong one last time and pushed the shot over the bar.
Whilst Wingate move only up to 16th place, a first win in a month coupled with a positive performance will have provided great encouragement for Shorey and the Wingate fans.
Report by Jamie Grossman
Sent off 90