Steve Wales’ second-half free-kick earned Wingate & Finchley a deserved 1-0 home victory over high-flying Leiston. Wingate came into the fixture full of confidence, looking to make it 10 games unbeaten in all competitions. They started the better of the two sides, as Reece Beckles-Richards rounded Leiston 'keeper Jacob Marsden early on, but saw his effort come back off the post from a tight angle.
The hosts continued their dominance throughout the half. Alfie Young’s cross-come-shot tested Marsden again, who was forced to tip the ball over the bar. Meanwhile, Leiston’s best chance of the half came from Gareth Heath’s corner. Matt Blake diverted a header goalwards, but Rob Laney was on hand to clear the ball.
Sean Cronin then came inches away from opening the scoring for Wingate. The defender rose highest to meet Wales’ corner, but saw his header go just wide. It was a dominant first-half display from Wingate, who were just missing the goal that their performance merited.
And the home side started the second-half as they ended the first. Laney found Spencer McCall in space on the edge of the box, but his effort curled just wide. Tommy Tejan-Sie then went even closer to breaking the deadlock. After a neat one-two with Reece Beckles-Richards, he produced a stunning piece of skill to evade two defenders, before his shot agonisingly hit both posts and came back out.
At the other end, a rare chance for Leiston saw Matt Blake's header hit the roof of the net from Joe Marsden's cross. The goal finally came 13 minutes from time. Wingate won a free-kick on the edge of the box and Wales stepped up to convert. The ball squirmed under the wall, taking a slight deflection on its way to divert it into the bottom corner.
The away side almost responded immediately through Blake, but the largely untroubled Shane Gore was out quickly to deny the Leiston striker. The visitors had one last chance with three minutes remaining, but their free-kick sailed well over the bar.
The result leaves The Blues five points outside the play-offs with games in hand over their rivals. Wingate will look to carry that momentum into Saturday’s derby game against Hendon.
WingateTV: Shane Gore and Tanasheh Abrahams Post Leiston: HERE
Report by Sam Jones