Wingate and Finchley were defeated 1-0 by Needham Market on a snowy day at Bloomfields, to consign the visitors to a third successive defeat. A 78th minute goal from substitute Billy Clark proved to be the winner. It was an action packed start to proceedings. John Sands tried an audacious lob inside the opening minute of the game and his 30-yard effort sailed over Wingate ‘keeper Shane Gore, but went well wide of the post.
Gore was then adjudged to have fouled Reece Dobson in the box. The Wingate stopper, who recently won January's Goalkeeper of the Month Award, saved the resulting penalty, diving low to his right to keep out Needham captain Kemal Izzet. Wingate quickly grew into the match. Still inside the first 10 minutes, Needham ‘keeper Daniel Gay was forced into a smart save - palming away Abrahams’ shot. The winger had directed the ball goalwards from a low Laney cross. A high ball from Reece Beckles-Richards then caused panic in the Needham box, and Spencer McCall arrived late on the scene, but poked the ball wide.
The Wingate pressure continued as Rob Laney attempted an acrobatic effort but missed the ball from Beckles-Richards’ cross. Beckles-Richards soon had his own attempt, which flew wide of the post. The final chance of the half fell the way of McCall, who took aim from outside the box, but saw his shot fly over.
Chances in the second period were more limited, as the weathered pitch continued to deteriorate. Laney claimed the first opportunity of the half, but his long-range shot went well wide of the mark. At the other end, Luke Ingram launched a one-man counter attack following a Wingate corner, before swerving a shot wide.
A looping header from Cladiu Vilcu went over the bar over from McCall’s corner on the hour mark. And Vilcu was back in the thick of the action when his well struck free-kick was heading for the top corner, until being tipped over by man of the match Gay. Needham took the lead when Billy Clark had time and space to pick his spot after being picked out by Ingram. Although Vilcu managed to get a foot to the ball, he could not prevent it going into the corner.
A draw would have been a fair result, but Needham saw out the last few minutes to complete a league double over their opponents. Wingate are back in action on Tuesday night when The Blues entertain Folkestone Invicta. (Kick off 7:45pm).
Report by Sam Jones