High flyers Needham Market executed the perfect smash-and-grab victory in North London as they condemned Wingate & Finchley to a first League defeat in over a month. The game saw plenty of chances fall to the hosts, but the Marketmen got exactly what they bargained for and left the capital with all three points.
The first chance of the game almost resulted in another goal of the season contender from Wingate’s Steve Wales, who spotted goalkeeper Daniel Gay off his line and took aim from just inside Needham’s half – only to see his effort hit the crossbar and roll to safety, after only six minutes. Three minutes later, Reece Beckles-Richards’ tricky wing play saw him reach the byline and cut the ball across the box, but nobody in a blue shirt was on hand to stab home.
On the half hour mark, Tommy Tejan-Sie struck an effort just wide from the edge of the box, seeing his right footed shot hit the stanchion behind the goal without troubling Gay. Luke Ifil’s shot, less than a minute later, was bravely blocked by the posterior of Darryl Coakley as Needham threw themselves in front of Wingate efforts to keep the score at 0-0.
Just before the break, Ifil’s shot from the edge of the area flew inches over Gay’s crossbar as Wingate – and their fans – were left wondering how they were going into the break without being at least a goal up.
The second half began almost perfectly for the visitors, who had created next to nothing in the first 45 minutes. Luke Ingram took on Beckles-Richards and Ryan Sellers down the left wing and crossed into the six yard box for John Sands to stab home into an empty net – a goal that looked to be coming the more Wingate wasted chances.
Positive running down the right wing from Wales saw his cross float to the back post, but Beckles-Richards could only head his effort safely into the palms of Gay. Just before the 70th minute, Tejan-Sie struck low and hard towards the bottom corner but Gay pushed his effort out to Wales – who was unable to get enough contact to force an effort towards goal. At the other end, the visitors nearly doubled their lead but Sellers heroically blocked Ingram’s shot on the line and the Blues were able to clear.
With five minutes to go, the Wingate fans thought their side had finally broken through. Ifil hit a piledriver from 25 yards out but his effort, destined for the top corner, was pushed out for a corner by a diving Gay. Wingate were unable to convert from several resulting corners and were left to rue over a dozen missed chances and a short lapse at the back – whilst the super Marketmen took all three points to remain in the play off spots. Wingate sit in 14th place with a tricky trip to rivals, Enfield Town in store next Saturday.
Report by Nikhil Saglani