Wingate and Finchley got back to winning ways with a 3-2 home victory over Merstham, courtesy of a brace from Reece Beckles-Richards and Ben Pattie’s first goal for the club. After a quiet opening 15 minutes, Wingate took control of the game and threatened down the left as Ryan Sellers linked up with Rob Laney. The winger then pulled the ball back for Pattie, but his shot was cleared by the Merstham defence. Claudiu Vilcu then got his head on Sellars’ whipped free-kick into the box, but could only divert his header over the bar.
The deadlock was broken mid-way through the first period. Beckles-Richards put the Blues 1-0 up with a superb finish across goalkeeper Ben Smith, after a lobbed pass forward from Ahmet Rifat. From there on in it was a dominant first-half display from the home team, who had further opportunities to double their advantage. Beckles-Richards soon found the net again, but this time it was controversially ruled out for offside.
The second half started in the same vain as the first, with Wingate well on top. And Beckles-Richards was in the thick of the action once more, as his effort was blocked, before Pattie fired a shot into the side netting. Wingate doubled their advantage less than 10 minutes into the second half when Steve Wales broke away on the counter attack. He burst down the left, leaving two defenders in his wake, before unselfishly squaring the ball to Pattie in the middle, who picked his corner with a lovely curling effort.
The game then turned on its head. Merstham sprung into life and almost immediately got themselves back into the game when ex-Blue Alex Addai found himself through on goal. But Shane Gore stood up strong to keep the score at 2-0. However, it was only a temporary reprieve. Midfielder Xavier Vidal got his name on the scoresheet as he tucked home from close range following Addai’s cross. The away side were handed a lifeline when the referee failed to spot a penalty area handball that would have given Wingate the chance to regain their two goal lead from the spot. Instead, it was Merstham who got on top.
Vidal’s influence on the game grew stronger as the game progressed. His free-kick went narrowly wide, before he drew the away side level with 15 minutes remaining. Gore could only parry Tom Kavanagh’s curling effort, and Vidal was on hand to convert his second of the game. That set up a frantic last 15 minutes, with both teams looking to grab a winner. After throwing away their advantage, the momentum soon shifted back to the home side. Wales and substitute Tanasheh Abrahams both went close, but their shots were unable to trouble the ‘keeper.
Wingate’s winner came four minutes from time. After a superb double save from Smith, the ball fell kindly to Beckles-Richards, who was in the right place to finish into an empty net. He sent the home crowd into raptures behind the goal and gave his team the all important three points. Wingate and Finchley are back in action this Saturday as they travel to Ware FC in the FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round.
WingateTV: Ben Pattie and Sean Cronin Post Merstham: HERE
Report by Sam Jones