Wingate and Finchley's March stumble looks to be all but forgotten as they secured their highest points tally and league finish with a win over Merstham. Claudiu Vilcu's first league goal for the club gave Keith Rowland's men an early lead which Luke Ifil doubled from the edge of the box midway through the second half.
The Blues won just one game from five last month, but remain fighting in an eight-team royal rumble for the last three playoff spots. Today's win was the third in a row since the start of April - a run that sees them climb to sixth place, outside a playoff place on goal difference. Yannick Makeise was the busier of both goalkeepers over 90 minutes and he did well to parry Reece Beckles-Richards' stinging shot over the bar after the first eight.
But from the resulting corner, the 6' 5" frame of Vilcu stooped low to divert the ball in with his head and give Wingate the lead. Makeise's second save was even better, somehow turning Tommy Tejan-Sie's close range shot away from goal to keep the game at 1-0 heading into the break. Strong claims for a second-half penalty were waved away by the referee when Beckles-Richards appeared to be hauled down in the box, but Wingate showed that 12 yards is too close to score from for them anyway.
With 20 minutes left, Ifil sent a shot flying past Mackeise into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to double the Blues' deserved lead. Steve Wales might have made it three but, clean through on goal after dispossessing Merstham's last man, contrived to put his lob well over the bar. And with seconds left Ola Williams dragged a shot wide of Mackeise' goal - the only one that was ever seriously threatened throughout the game as Shane Gore picked up a nice suntan.
After seeing off 14th-placed Merstham the Blues look to go one better when they host a Worthing side sitting in 13th next Saturday. Wingate, on the other hand, will not find themselves in the bottom half of the league again this season.
Report by Andy Gerlis