Wingate and Finchley progressed to the First Round Proper of the FA Trophy for the second successive season after a 1-0 victory away at Metropolitan Police. Sean Cronin's second half penalty secured victory for the Blues, a year on from a 4-2 victory over Slough Town at the same stage of the competition.
Wingate started the brighter of the two sides and could have taken the lead when Afolabi Obafemi chased down a loose ball and crossed to Marc Charles-Smith, who could not get a good enough connection on it. The visitors kept up the pressure as Luke Ifil unleashed a low drive that whistled just past the post after a quarter of an hour. Rob Laney then tried an acrobatic effort that flashed over the bar from Charles-Smith's knock down.
The away side threatened throughout the half. Reece Beckles-Richards robbed the defender on the byline and crossed for Charles-Smith, but the Wingate striker's shot was cleared. Keith Rowland’s side continued to create chances, as Ahmet Rifat fired over, before Obafemi tried his luck from long range and saw his shot go agonisingly wide.
Beckles-Richards stayed in the thick of the action when his cross-field ball found Rifat on the right, but after taking the ball down expertly, the Wingate skipper shot wide from a tight angle. Met Police created their first opportunity five minutes from the interval, when Tom Bird forced Shane Gore into a diving save.
Wingate started the second half in the same vein and almost broke the deadlock when Nathan Mavila's cross was headed onto the crossbar by Charles-Smith. Another Mavila cross flashed across goal minutes later, but no one was there to finish. On 64 minutes, Laney was brought down in the box to win the spot kick. Cronin stepped up and placed the ball into the bottom corner past the diving Williams.
Cronin then tried to turn provider as he did well to clear the danger in defence and played a long ball forward for Charles-Smith, who was unable to turn it home. With five minutes to go, the hosts tried to force a replay, but Jeremy Arthur’s free kick was deflected wide, before Jonny Wright blazed his shot over from the resulting corner.
As Met Police pushed players forward, Obafemi almost capped off an impressive performance with a goal. The striker’s effort from a looping Laney cross was heading for the bottom corner until Williams produced a fine diving save to keep the score down to one. Wingate saw out the final few minutes to earn a first clean sheet since the First Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy and put their name in the hat for Monday's draw.
Next up, the Blues welcome Sittingbourne to the Maurice Rebak Stadium in the Velocity Trophy Third Round on Tuesday (7:45pm).
WingateTV: Shane Gore and Sean Cronin post Metropolitan Police: HERE
Report by Sam Jones