Wingate & Finchley announce that manager Gary Meakin is to leave the Club this week. Club Chairman Aron Sharpe said "Gary and I have spoken in depth about the club requirements going forward - the club has a particular pathway that it wishes to follow. These requirements were not in synch with Gary's vision , so I decided that it was best for the club to release Gary from the manager's role and that he pursue his goals elsewhere.
The directive when Gary arrived was to maintain our status in the Ryman Premier League, and Gary achieved all that was asked of him which the club shall always be grateful for.
I would like on behalf of all at the club to thank Gary for his extremely hard work in his time at Wingate & Finchley. Gary is a fine young manager who I am certain shall be a huge success at whatever club is fortunate to have him."
The club are now in the process of finding a new manager and further announcements will be made in due course.
End Of Season Awards
The Club held their annual end of season dinner on Saturday night to celebrate 2012/13. The headline Player of the Year awards were won by Marc Weatherstone, Daniel Nielsen and Bobby Smith, whilst Young Player of the Year was Jack Hutchinson.
For the Development side, Gavin Suddell and Joe Sharpe picked up honours whilst Andreas Kyprianou was the club and league top scorer. There was great success for the U17 and U16 sides after their huge trophy hauls (pictured), where Adam Brignall and Andrew White were the respective Players of the Year. The full list of winners are
Most Improved Player of Season U16 - Siraje Kiyingi
Most Improved Player of Season U17 - Jack Christodolou
Player of Season U16 - Andrew White
Player of Season U17 - Adam Brignall
Development/Capital League Player of Season - Joe Sharpe
Development/Capital League Player of Season - Gavin Suddell
Development Squad Top Goalscorer - Andreas Kyprianou
Players Player of The Season - Bobby Smith
Supporters Player of The Season - Marc Weatherstone
Club Person of The Season - Oliver Simnock
Young Player of The Season - Jack Hutchinson
Player of The Season - Bobby Smith
Top Goalscorer - Leon Smith
Board of Directors Player of The Season - Daniel Nielsen
U17s Win 4th Trophy
On Sunday Wingate & Finchley's U17's added the London County cup to an earlier EJA league title, the EJA cup and the AFA cup.
This was sealed with an exciting 4-2 penalties victory over Snaresbrook after the scores finished level at 1-1 after extra time, with Aris Savva equalising in injury time of the 90 minutes.
The four trophies may soon turn into five, as the side still have a post-season playoff after winning the regional league division.
The U16's have won two cups this season, and the club are holding trials for next season on Monday May 6th for boys in the U17-21 years. Full details are on the club website.
Entry Offer For Cray Game
Wingate & Finchley are offering residents in the N12 postal code area a chance to watch their vital relegation decider against Cray Wanderers for free this Saturday. The Blues, who sit one place above the Ryman Premier league relegation zone at the time of writing, are hoping a big crowd can help inspire them to an essential victory. Community Manager Mike Bayly commented: "the players make no secret of the fact a large vocal following can add extra momentum. We want to see as many local residents as possible come down and cheer the lads on. The club has had its roots at Summers Lane since the 1930's, so it seemed an appropriate gesture to get the local community involved for what could be a make or break game. We've worked hard to reach this level in the non-league pyramid and want to make every effort to stay there."
Any supporters wishing to take advantage of the offer will need to show proof of residency (e.g. Utility bill) at the gate. For further information, please email email@example.com
Interview with Spencer McCall
It’s going to be a really big couple of weeks for our on loan midfielder Spencer McCall. As well as being involved in our battle to avoid the drop, the young starlet also has the little matter of finding out whether he’s going to be offered a professional contract at parent club Stevenage FC. So after getting his first goal for the club and putting in a Man of the Match performance against Kingstonian, McCall spoke to WingateFinchley.com to tell us a bit about Saturday’s game, adjusting to senior football and his career at Stevenage so far:
You must be really pleased with how the game went on Saturday, both in terms of your own performance and a crucial three points for the team
Yes it was a really good game for me but I also want to give credit to the whole team because everyone put in a great shift out there. I’m pleased to get my first goal, I’ve felt it was coming so it was great to see it go in. In terms of the result, it’s a massive three points. We have been performing well recently and Meaks has just been saying keep doing what you are doing. We had a good performance in the cup defeat against Bromley but the result just didn’t come so we felt if we just went out there today and worked hard, the result would come and it did. It’s important that we keep doing that now and crack on to next Saturday.
We’ve only got three games left now, how do you see them going, can we stay up?
Yes, definitely. We just have to keep working hard, keep doing what we are doing and take every game as it comes. It’s not going to be easy but I really think we have a chance. It was good to see some of the results on Saturday going in our favour but at the same time there have been some really odd results in this division so you can’t take anything for granted. What we have to do is just concentrate on ourselves, not look at everyone else which is hard because you want to know how they are all getting on. But we have to forget about them, we can’t influence those games or results, we have to concentrate on our own ones.
Moving on to your career at Stevenage, tell us a bit about that
I got a scholarship at Stevenage when I was Under-16 and I have been there now for two years. They sent me out on loan to Wingate to get some men’s team experience. It’s coming near to the end of my scholarship now, so it’s almost at the time when I get my decision at Stevenage and it was important that I went outside of the club to get some first team experience. I haven’t received any direct feedback as yet but they are obviously keeping an eye on me and tabs on how many games I play, the minutes I’m on the pitch and any goals.
How have you found your time at Wingate & Finchley?
It’s the first time I’ve played senior football and I have to admit it was a bit of a shock at first, it took me a little while to get used to it, they threw me in at the deep end here but it’s an experience that I am relishing and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. There’s a really great bunch of lads here, they are a close bunch and some of them have decent banter, not all of them though! I love Meaks as well, he’s supported me ever since I came here, praised me and told me what things to improve on and what things to keep on doing, he has been a massive help.
Have you noticed an improvement in your game?
Yes massively, it’s really brought on a different side of my game, the dirty side of things and also that winning mentality. When you are playing youth team football, I know you obviously want to win but it’s not about having to get those three points. Compare that with here today when we knew we had to go out and get those three points, it was massive nothing else would have done. That’s one thing I will really take from my time at the club and also experiencing all the different scenarios, what to do when we are under the cosh, what to do when we are on top in the game, whether to hook it up, when to try and keep it in their area more than ours. I’ve learnt that sometimes rather than trying to pass it you just need to hook it on and just be clever knowing when to play and when not to.
And finally looking to the future, have you set out any career ambitions or targets?
My career ambition is of course to be a professional footballer and play at the highest level that I can but at the moment I’m just focusing my ambition on signing a professional contract. I get my decision in a couple of weeks; we will have to see how that goes because obviously we changed managers at the end of last month with Graham Westley coming back in. I’m training at Stevenage Mondays to Fridays and there are going to be a few in-house games that I’ll be involved in over the next couple of weeks and then I find out after that, I’ll just have to wait and see.
Interview with Gavin Suddell
One of the highlights of an otherwise disappointing trip to Leiston was seeing U18 youth team player Gavin Suddell make his first team debut. After the match, the young striker spoke to WingateFinchley.com to talk about his first senior appearance and here’s what he had to say:
Gavin you must be delighted to have made your first team debut
Yes I was just really happy to have come on. I’ve been waiting a while for the chance, I was on the bench against Wealdstone and I was hoping for an opportunity to come on then but obviously it didn’t happen so it was great to get the last 15 or so minutes of this game and hopefully it’s onwards from here and I can keep getting more involved. I was as disappointed as everyone not to have got three points or even a point out of it, it would have been great if we could have come away with something and then it would have been a memorable day all round for me but it wasn’t to be. The conditions weren’t great, the pitch was hard to play on and the lads dug deep but it was really tough.
How did you find the step up to the first team?
It’s a little different to what I am used to but it’s where I want to be and if I am able to maintain that then I will be happy. I just need to keep training hard, make sure my fitness is up to this level and keep learning off the other guys. As I said, this is my aim, this is what I want to be involved at this level and hopefully if I can keep doing the same and impressing the manager then I’ll have a chance to be involved again in some of the remaining games.
How have the rest of squad been towards you, have they been a help?
Yes definitely, they are a great set of lads here, we have some great banter and they are all very welcoming and supportive. It was great to have the day out with them today and the chance to play alongside some of them for a bit. The good thing about the squad at the moment is that there’s a good balance between more experienced players and some of the younger guys. It’s encouraging to see how much the likes of Jack Hutchinson and Spencer McCall have been involved and in really key games too, it gives the boys in the youth team something to aim towards because I think the opportunities are definitely there if you can prove to the manager that you are worthy of them.
It’s been a good couple of days for you! You also got a hat-trick for the U18s in their 3-2 win against Northwood last Thursday
Yea it was great; it’s definitely a week to remember for me. I felt confident from the off when I stepped on to the pitch against Northwood and then as soon as I got my first, I was looking to get my hat-trick and so of course I was delighted when my third went in. It was great to play a big part in getting a good win for the boys and it also gave me lots of confidence going into the Leiston game, it’s always good to go into a tough game on the back of something like that.
And finally how has that season been going for you, tell us a bit more about how the U18 side are getting on
We started the season so well, we won our opening three games and we looked as if we would be competing for the title. But over the last few weeks, we have fallen out of the running a bit. The season’s been really disrupted, lots of games were postponed and we lost our last two before the Northwood game so we lost a bit of ground but I’m hoping that result can inspire us. We were six points off the top on Saturday I think so you never know but we’ve just got to try and pick up as many points as possible before the end of the season, I’m hoping for a few more goals and we need to aim to finish as high as we can.
Wingate & Finchley FC will be hosting their annual community day on Saturday April 13th, to coincide with their home game against Kingstonian. In addition to a pre-match 5-a-side tournament, supporters are being offered a ‘pay what you like’ incentive on the gate, following the success of a similar scheme earlier this season on Non-League Day. Community Manager Mike Bayly advised:
“We will be holding an adult 5-a-side tournament on our pitches prior to the Kingstonian match, with the entry fee covering admission to the first team game. Last season we had fifteen teams enter and will be hoping for a similar turnout this time around as we have only two spaces left to be filled. We implemented a ‘pay what you like scheme’ earlier this season against Concord Rangers and recorded a bumper crowd which was almost treble the size from the corresponding fixture the season before. The community day offers a fitting opportunity to try it again; it’s a nice way to end the season and a great opportunity for people to visit our club for a price they see fit.”
Money raised from the tournament will go towards funding the club’s various community projects, including their on-going partnership with Barnet Mencap.
For more information on the 5-a-side tournament, or for general enquiries about the day, please email Mike Bayly on firstname.lastname@example.org
Reactions to victory over Hendon
Gary Meakin wants Wingate & Finchley to try and focus on their own results and not be distracted by what the teams around them are doing.
The 2-0 win at Hendon was made all the sweeter by the fact that relegation rivals Cray Wanderers, Harrow Borough, Hastings United, Lewes and Thurrock all failed to pick up any points. Those results saw Wingate move up to 16th in the table, six points clear of the U’s in 21st but Meakin admitted that with the teams around them having so many games in hand, it was a false position and the Blues need to keep their attention on picking up the points in their remaining five fixtures:
“Looking at the table and seeing us in 16th was nice but come the end of the season I’ll take 20th, I’m not going to be greedy. Obviously it’s hard to avoid having half an eye on the other sides because they do have a lot of games in hand but if we win our games and concentrate on us then hopefully we won’t have to worry about them.
Cray’s 2-0 win at Bury Town last night saw them move ahead of Wingate into 16th and Blues’ supporters will no doubt be keeping tabs on the clash between promotion chasing Lowestoft Town and Thurrock tonight.
“Obviously we need them all to keep dropping points but we can’t be just looking for other teams to do us a favour, we have to do our bit too,” the manager added. “It’s easy to forget about Carshalton too, they’ve got six [points] from nine, they are fighting for it as well. We would be foolish to overlook them but as I said as long as we keep doing our bit I think we’ll be okay.”
Turning his attention back to Monday’s 2-0 win, Meakin stated:
“I’m really pleased. More so with the result than the performance, when I say performance I mean as a spectacle of football. We did the ugly bit right which is what we needed to do with the conditions, the pitch was bobbly and the wind spoilt the game as well. I told them before the game and reiterated at half-time, it’s back to basics with your headers and tackles and put the ball in the right area and I felt we did that. The first half wasn’t great but the second half was a lot better.
After a disappointing showing in his first game back for the club against Wealdstone, Leon Smith was an impressive second-half substitute and Meakin was keen to acknowledge the contribution of both the goal scorers and defender Ryan Scott:
“I was really pleased with Leon, he has been away twice and come back and this time he looks hungry and that he wants to do well for himself and well for the club. That’s the best half an hour I have seen of him, we all saw the old Leon there, he really wants to do well and he looked confident and it was good to see him on the scoresheet.
“That said, it is easy for all the credit to go to a forward player or someone like that, the one that scores. Hector [Mackie] played really well too but sometimes it’s about the unsung heroes and that is what Ryan Scott was for me. He kept us in the game, he allowed us to go and win it and you have to acknowledge that contribution too, he was excellent.”
Ryan Scott has urged Wingate & Finchley to build on their impressive results over the Easter weekend and believes that the team can take six points from their next two league fixtures.
Scott put in a Man of the Match performance in the 2-0 victory against Hendon and the centre-back said after the game:
“It’s a good win and a good result. We built on the Wealdstone result on Saturday, four points from two difficult games is great. Obviously their [Hendon] season is pretty much over but we did just what we needed to do here and we need to keep going from now, keep focused and do that until the end of the season. In fact it was a good day all round. The way the other results went was pretty much ideal so we just have to keep building now and concentrate on winning the next game at Leiston and the one after that.”
The result was Wingate’s first three points since their dramatic 4-3 victory at Cray and also their first clean sheet in the league since the 1-0 win against Margate back at the beginning of February, something which Scott was especially pleased about:
“Obviously that’s my job, first and foremost to keep the goals out so I’m really happy with that but it was all the boys not just me, the whole team performance was good. It was my sort of game, a bit of grit and I’m pleased.”
After getting his chance in the same fixture in the London Senior Cup, Scott has played in the club’s last three league games and Gary Meakin singled the defender out for praise, describing him as the ‘team’s unsung hero’.
“It’s always good to get praise from the manager,” the defender added. “In fact before the game I wasn’t feeling too great, I was never going to not play but I wasn’t really feeling one hundred percent.
“I joined in February but I haven’t been playing, I haven’t really played all season. I’ve got my opportunity from having a few of the boys suspended but to be honest I’d rather have them in the team and know I’ve got my opportunity on merit. But it has worked out quite nicely for me and now I’ve been given my chance, hopefully I can just keep showing what I can do.”
Chairman's End Of Season Run In
As we approach the final stages of the season, our future lays in the hands of the players and management.
We have three difficult weeks where we need to pick up points to preserve our deserved status as a Ryman Premier club. In the midst of this we have the opportunity to turn our season around and turn huge adversity into success.
We have the London Senior cup semi final versus Bromley on Tuesday 9 April giving us the opportunity to add to our honours board, which in recent years would show just how successful we have been as a 'small club' in comparison to our peers.
Despite the huge adversity and bad luck that we faced this season, which would have made much bigger clubs buckle, we have fought through thick and thin.
When it becomes difficult you really see the true depth of support at a club. It has been difficult , yet we still are in a position of finishing the season and calling it a success.
Not by bringing in players who ask for too much money, not by increasing our budget or by bringing in an old pro whom perhaps other clubs cannot afford to ensure a higher league position.
Not by following the usual non league merry go round of players. But by giving youth a chance.
From a club perspective, winning for us was on bank holiday Saturday against our well-known, well-respected local rivals. Possibly one of the most famous clubs in non- league football in Wealdstone FC.
Winning? We only drew.
Saturday was the beginning, the start of the future. Playing a club who have had much success, have a huge following, will surely at least be in the play offs if not win the league. A footballing side who have attracted all the best non-league players and quite rightly consider themselves the top non-league side in the locality .
Ravaged by injuries and suspensions, the squad (managed by a 28 year old) contained no fewer than five 18 year old local boys able to match the team of seasoned non-league players who not only sit second in the table but if they won their games in hand could have been top.
We only managed a draw, however, read the oppositions forums and non-league reports and the reality is we should have won the game if we had not missed two or three golden opportunities. All but one of these youth players have come through our much respected youth system at one point or another, all are from the immediate area.
Each and every one of them prepared to play for nothing for the honour of playing for the club they love.
Our manager, knowing we have a tough finish to the season to maintain our position, had the courage to pick and have faith in these young men to compete against the best players in the Ryman league.
Despite the fear and talk about being relegated, our position in this division (or any division be it higher or lower) must be sustainable.
We must focus on winning when we can and consolidate our position. However, for me, we continue to win as long as we produce football players from our youth development.
So to those who try and deride us as a club when I defend the club from their slanted negative comments I ask:
Five 18 year olds in a squad that outplayed and thoroughly deserved a point or three from a team who may yet get promoted to the Conference south, whilst in a relegation battle?
A young manager prepared to take the chance on youth?
As far as I am concerned whatever our position we continue to win as long as we produce from within.
The choice: give youth a chance and have a strong and consistent progression or pay a mercenary an extortionate amount of money for a few games ?
As Gary Meakin stated to me : ' if you don't try them you will never know'
Reaction to Wealdstone Game
Gary Meakin declared himself pleased with Wingate & Finchley’s point against high flying Wealdstone but admitted that the result could all be in vain if the Blues don’t take anything from their Bank Holiday Monday derby at Hendon.
Wingate and Wealdstone played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Summers Lane and the Blues had chances to take all three points late on, something that the manager said left him feeling a bit frustrated:
“It is a very good point, I would have definitely taken a point before the game and I’ll still take a point after the game but there is a bit of a what if, we had the chances to win the game but I suppose I can’t be too greedy, as I said I would have taken a point, it is just frustrating some times when you get the chances and you don’t put them away, hopefully we don’t rue them come the end of the season.
“The result is definitely something we can build on but as I’ve said previously, I don’t think we’ve done anything different in how we have been playing for weeks. We beat Hendon 3-0 then didn’t play any different against Bognor but lost 1-0. We need to be more clinical in and around the penalty area. That is what wins games. We are doing the other bit right, we restricted them to not many chances, Richard Jolly had one chance, one goal that’s the difference.”
“If you put it into perspective, we had six important players missing and it’s a point against Wealdstone who are challenging for the title, it’s a really good result. Could we have been stronger yes possibly but that is being disrespectful to those who played because it’s a squad game so everyone that played today are actually first team players. Everyone has been given their chance and they have taken it, so it’s for the six that are missing to earn their chance back in the side.”
Meakin drafted in two new players ahead of the game; experienced defender Dan Braithwaite and youngster Joe Foley, who joined the club on work experience terms from Leyton Orient, and he stated that he had been pleased with both their contributions:
“Braiths has actually been with us for about three weeks now, he’s been training with us and we had that game called off otherwise he would have played against Lowestoft. He was excellent, he did exactly what he was asked to do, he hadn’t played in weeks so he was struggling with his lungs a little bit towards the end. Joe Foley came in and on the football he showed what he’s got, he could have scored at the end and won it. He’s still got some work to do off the ball and we’re going to work with him on that because obviously now he’s playing men’s senior football, we’ve thrown him in at the deep end but he’s done really well so far.”
The team’s attention now turns to tomorrow’s trip to Hendon and Meakin admitted that realistically a point from the two games would not be good enough for the 19th place Blues as they battle to avoid the drop:
“It would be a disappointment if we finish the season with no points against Hendon. Would the point against Wealdstone go to waste, quite possibly. Obviously if they deserve to win then fine but I don’t want to be coming away saying we have wasted chances. One point over two games at this stage of the season isn’t good enough. We need three points from one of these games over the weekend so in that sense I would rather have lost today and then take three points at Hendon but hopefully we can go there and get the win and then getting four points from two tough games would be a fantastic end to the weekend.”
Two New Signings
Manager Gary Meakin has signed two players, Daniel Braithwaite (left) and Joe Foley (right), shortly before the transfer window closes at the end of this week.
Left full-back Daniel Braithwaite has joined from Conference South outfit Hayes & Yeading. The thirty-one year old arrives at Summers Lane with a plethora of experience having representing many clubs throughout his career starting at Watford as a trainee, appearing in the FA Youth Cup for The Hornets before being released and appearing for numerous clubs around the non league circuit including Enfield, Chesham Utd, Borehamwood, Hemel Hempstead and Dover Athletic.
The defender joined Hayes & Yeading from Chesham in December 2012 making his debut against Dover Athletic, since that time he has amassed fourteen appearances, netting a single goal before being released at the start of March by new boss Tony O’Driscoll.
Another player joining is starlet Joe Foley on work experience terms from League One outfit Leyton Orient until the end of the season, although Foley is still available to appear for the Leyton Orient youth team if required.
Islington born Central midfielder Foley turned eighteen in January and during last season he accrued an impressive 23 appearances for the Leyton Orient youth side, contributing four goals pitting his skills against such opponents as Portsmouth, Watford and Peterborough.
Orient youth boss Andy Edwards commented regarding the loan move of several of his fledgling stars "It's a great opportunity for the lads to go out on loan to clubs that still have a number of games left and get some valuable experience under their belts and hopefully get the opportunity to play some good non-league football.".
Interview With Spencer Belotti
Ahead of Saturday’s must-win clash against Lowestoft Town, Wingatefinchley.com caught up with striker Spencer Bellotti for a chat about his time at the club so far, why he couldn’t wait to join up with his former boss and his hope that his goals will finally start pushing the Blues’ towards safety. Here’s what he had to say…
Firstly Spencer, for the fans who don’t already know, tell us a bit about your football background:
After playing in the sports academy at school, I joined up with Thurrock in the Conference South but I was really young about 17 and I didn’t really get games there so I left at the end of the season. I was training with Wingate reserves for a bit but I broke my arm and then got really ill, I had one step down from pneumonia so I had to take a few months off football. I just collapsed one Sunday at football; I had water on the lungs. I had a bad season after that so I signed for Oxhey Jets and things started to get really back on track there, I scored 30 in 37 and then Gary Meakin signed me for Northwood in February 2012. I finished the season there and did well, getting 8 goals in 16 so not bad. This season, we had good players at Northwood but we were struggling. I just started scoring again when Meakin came in for me again in February and took me with him to Wingate.
Was Gary being manager here a big factor in you wanting to join the club?
Yes definitely. He helped make me a better player at Northwood, he helped build my confidence up. I was gutted when he left in November, I wanted him to take me with him straight away but he told me I wasn’t sharp enough at the time. I guess that was his polite way of saying I wasn’t good enough then!
Well he must be pleased with how you’ve done here so far. How are you enjoying it?
Hopefully he is and I hope I can keep going. It’s been great here so far, all the lads are quality and they’ve welcomed me well. It definitely has helped having a few of my old team mates around as it’s a bit nerve wracking when you go into a new club so having some of the boys you know there eases you in a bit better. It’s been good so far. I’m trying to do my best and keep scoring. It was great to get scoring right from my debut [a brace at Hampton & Richmond] and at the minute I’ve got seven in eight league games, so I’m pretty pleased with that, and hopefully I can score the goals that will keep us up.
Aside from goal scoring, how have you found other aspects of the game at this level?
It’s a lot quicker, that’s one thing I’ve really noticed. So I’ve got to be a lot quicker. I’m looking forward to pre-season and getting fit properly but I think all in all at the moment I’m doing pretty well.
Is it frustrating that despite all the goals you’ve scored since joining, they’ve only actually contributed to one point in the league?
Yes it’s terrible isn’t it! I noticed that myself the other day and thought maybe I should just stop scoring so we can win! It was just that one point on my debut against Hampton and that’s it. Even against Hendon in the London Senior Cup I didn’t score and we won, maybe I should just leave it to the other boys! But no I’m only messing, if I just keep getting amongst the goals then hopefully we’ve got to start seeing results.
How do you rate our chances of survival? We’ve got some really tough games starting with Lowestoft Town this weekend
Yes definitely. We have to go into each game believing we can get a result. In fact I haven’t seen us play a team that I’ve thought they were so much better than us. It’s similar to what Gary has been saying, we’ve conceded sloppy goals, had some bad decisions go against us but hopefully that luck will change in our last set of games and we can stay up. I’m under no illusion that we have some really tough games coming up and the circumstances have put us under a lot of pressure but some of the boys in this squad are quality so we definitely have the quality to stay up.
And finally, have you got any personal targets for the rest of the season?
Just to keep scoring really. I set myself a target of at least 20 for the year and I’ve got that already so I’m happy with that. For me now it’s all about helping keep the team stay up so if I can contribute to that in any way, I will be delighted.
Interview by Siobhan McCall
Youth Team Cup Finals This Weekend
The Under 16's will play their AFA Cup Final on Saturday morning at 10am against Winchmore Hill. The boys beat Old Aloysians 1-0 in the semi-final three weeks ago, and last week booked their place in the Chairman's Cup Final with a win over Wivenhoe Town. The game on Saturday is at Norsemen FC, Edmonton Sports & Social Club, Church Street, Edmonton N9 9HL, on pitch 1.
Then on Sunday the Under 17's are in the London County Cup Final at 2pm against Snaresbrook & Interwood at Mile End Stadium. The boys have beaten Our Lady FC, Ryan FC and Cray Wanderers to reach the final without conceding a single goal, and beat Sunday's opponents 6-0 in October's league meeting. Likewise they are also into a second final, having won the semi of their Secretary's Cup last week with a 2-1 win over AFC Hornchurch. The winning goal in that game came in the final minute of extra time from Nathan Frazer-Carroll.
Meakin Pleased With Win
Gary Meakin was delighted to see his side finally get a reward for their efforts as the Blues ran out 3-0 winners against North London rivals Hendon in the quarter finals of the London Senior Cup.
The manager was keen to quickly move on from the weekend’s events and he felt that the players responded in the perfect way with a convincing win: “That’s where we have to do our talking now. What happened on Sunday happened and we can only rectify the image of the club by results on the football pitch. The team deserved it. They haven’t been getting what they deserve in their performances and that’s what we have been echoing inside, just keep doing what they are doing and the tide will turn. It’s nice to finally get their rewards for their hard work.
“The difference today was being that bit more clinical. They haven’t done anything different tonight than any other game, bar a couple that we haven’t really performed in. The difference tonight is putting the ball in their net and keeping it out of ours.”
There was speculation prior to the game that first-team players might be rested for Saturday’s crucial league clash at Bognor Regis but Gary named a strong squad and emphasised that he has ambitions of winning this competition: “ There are a lot of the first team guys who are going to be suspended now and we need to keep them ticking over so they are not out of the game too long whilst they are serving their bans and of course we really want to win the cup. But saying that we did have a couple of youth players in that team, Jack Hutchinson is 18, Spencer McCall is 17, the centre-half was only 20.
The manager revealed that he had been particularly impressed by midfielder McCall, who is on a work experience loan from Stevenage FC:
“Young Spencer filled in midfield brilliantly and I don’t want to big him up too much but he looks very good and he’s only 17-18. Andre Scarlett has been very impressive at right-back, he hasn’t made a bad decision just yet and Ryan Scott, the centre half, he hasn’t played in a few months and again was excellent. That said, everyone all round was good. The result and way we played will certainly give us confidence going into the game against Bognor on Saturday.”
Hector Mackie, who scored Wingate’s second and set up Wayne O’Sullivan for the third, added that the result was what the team need and pinpointed the trip to Bognor as the key game as they battle to avoid the drop: “It was what we needed. It’s always good to get a goal and I thought we played good football tonight. We showed the level of professionalism that we needed and after losing on Sunday, we desperately needed to win a game and get some momentum going and that’s what we’ve done tonight.
“I’m enjoying it at the club so far, everyone is welcoming and there’s a good group of players here, we just need to make sure we stay up. We really need to try and get three points against Bognor as we’ll have our best team to pick from. After that it’s going to be quite tough. It will be difficult but I know we’ll work hard and can deal with it.”
Kick It Out with Thurrock - Sunday at 1pm
As a reminder, this weekend is the Ryman League's weekend-long drive in support of Kick It Out. Kick It Out works throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change. Our game with Thurrock on Sunday at 1pm is the Premier Division selection, with one match from each of the three Ryman divisions being staggered over the weekend.
We have a pre-match disability tournament taking place on the astroturf, football coaching for local schoolchildren, and there will be plenty of Kick It Out material being handed out on what should be a very fun day in support of the anti-discrimination cause.
We will also have both Liverpool v Spurs and Man Utd v Chelsea on TV in the bar afterwards for those who wish to stay.
Lastly, with the added factor of the match taking place on Mothers' Day, we are welcoming all mums to the match free of charge! There is an extra surprise bonus for all mums at the game too. Sunday Maccabi league players are also welcomed to the match free of charge.
News In Brief
Under 17's Through To Final
The U17's beat Cray 3-0 on the weekend to book their place in the LFA Cup Final - a favourite competition of Wingate & Finchley's youth sides. The goals were scored by Nathan Frazer-Carrol, Gal Alves and Ciaran Power all in the first half.
Striker Daniel Brown has decided to join Staines Town in the Conference South, whilst free agent Murat Karagul returns for his third spell with the Blues.
Congratulations to the following boys selected to represent the AFA against London FA on Sunday 10 March:
Kick It Out
Wingate & Finchley FC will be part of an anti-discrimination message next month as the Ryman League embarks on a weekend-long drive to support Kick It Out. Kick It Out works throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and work for positive change.
The Blues’ home game against Thurrock has been moved to 1pm on Sunday 10th March as part of an initiative involving non-league clubs. There is one match from each of the three Ryman divisions being staggered over the weekend, and the Summers Lane club was specifically selected for involvement as the Premier Division representative on the back of their continued work in the community, particularly with marginalised and hard to reach groups. Community Development Manager Mike Bayly commented:
“Wingate & Finchley FC is proud of its Anglo-Jewish roots, and has been at the forefront of promoting inclusive football for people of all ages, regardless of background or ability. We are delighted to have been chosen to participate in this event and are looking to organise a pre-match 6-a-side football tournament at our ground consisting of local primary schools across the religious and cultural spectrum. Football at this level is very much about engaging with the local community in a meaningful way, an ethos our volunteer staff continue to work towards”
The club is hoping for a bigger than usual crowd on the day, and are planning other initiatives and events for local fans to sample. Further information, including entrance details for the schools' football tournament, can be obtained by emailing email@example.com
Lastly, with the added factor of the match taking place on Mothers' Day, we are welcoming all mums to the match free of charge!
We are really sad to announce that our lovely former bar lady Kate Firth passed away during the week aged only 30.
All of us at the club will miss her greatly and our thoughts are with her friends and family. We shall hold a minute's silence prior to the Bury Town match.
Below is a tribute by Stuart Mitchell, Club Groundsman and her close friend:
"We as a club were devastated by the recent loss of Kate Firth at the young age of 30. Over the last few years Kate became a great friend of mine personally and we shared many laughs together. Indeed in her short time at the club behind the bar, she made an impression many don't in years, such was the nature of the woman.
Kate was a lady of undoubted energy and poured much of it into her passion for animals, in particular dogs. She always had time for her friends and was never too busy to help. When I lost my father not long ago, Kate always made a big effort to support me and it will never be forgotten. She was also intelligent and quick witted, but it was always fun trying to keep up!
Mine and the club's deepest condolences go out to her family at this hardest of times. Kate was that rarest of things in life; a character with character.
Family, Friends and Canines will miss her deeply and not a day will go by where she doesn't cross our thoughts. One day maybe all our paths will cross again. I for one hope so."
Forward David Laird has this week decided to leave the club in order to play more regular football. Laird has been a fans' favourite since signing in 2009 and was pivotal in the club's Treble success of 2011. He has scored 43 times in little over 100 starts in this time, but has struggled to hold down a place this season.
Manager Gary Meakin said "Despite being an undoubtedly talented player, David felt his opportunities here had become limited. After discussing the matter, we agreed it would be in everyone’s best interests for him to seek an opportunity elsewhere."
Gary and all at the club wish him the best in his future career.
Meanwhile a new signing into the squad is Hector Mackie, who came off the bench in Saturday's win over Margate. 24 year old Scotsman Mackie started at St. Albans when they were in the Conference South, and then played for Bath City gaining promotion into the Conference, before moving back to London. He had a spell back to St. Albans before signing for Harlow Town. He is a wide midfield player with lots of energy and is a powerful runner with the ball, and Meakin hopes he will give the squad a different dimension and a new option in attack.
With the squad stuck indoors for the past week, fitness coach Kwaku put them through their Azonto paces. Four hilarious videos can be seen below
There have been a few additions to the squad over the last week. Midfielder John Christian, 25, returns to the club from a long period with Northwood, and full-back Wilson Gondwe joins after spending last season at Harrow Borough. He has previously been at AFC Wimbledon and Basingstoke Town. Midfielder Tyler Christian-Law, who recently turned 20, also has joined us from Margate, and he has previously played for Enfield Town.
James Gershfield is set to rejoin Potters Bar Town this week after a brief return to the club at the end of last year. He has found match-time limited since the arrival of Gary Meakin, and we wish him all the best and hope that his great goalscoring form continues for the Division One promotion-chasers.
Boxing Day Announcement
We are excited to announce our special offer for the big derby game with Hendon...all season ticket holders with any other football club, from the Premier League to the Conference, will have the choice of Paying What You Want on the gate!
If you are stuck without a game on Boxing Day then why not come on down for this crucial six-pointer.
Notes: No minimum price. Proof of season ticket ownership must be provided on the day.
Kyriacou Returns To Chesham
The Club have reached an agreement with Chesham United for right full-back John Kyriacou to return back to his former club.
John Kyriacou joined Wingate & Finchley in August this year, however his time at the club had seen John struggle to re-capture the form that he had previously shown with Chesham and it was felt it was in the best interest of the player and both clubs for John to re-join Chesham.
We wish him and Chesham Utd well going forward.
Mark Henry Departs
We are sad to announce that the combative defensive midfielder has left the club. Mark came from Harrow Borough over three years ago and has been a regular in the side since then. His deep lying position meant goals were a rarity, but none were as important as the winner he scored in the recent 1-0 win at Kingstonian. He was a pivotal part of our Treble season in 2010-11, and we wish him all the best in his career.
Meanwhile Lee Scott has also departed, and left-winger Gary Burrell has rejoined the club after a brief exile. A young forward Jack Hutchinson has joined from Northwood, and both players have featured in the games with Bury and Leiston this week.
Close Joins On Loan
Lee Close, one of Boreham Wood's PASE graduates, has joined on loan initially for a month.
The full-back who is an England Schoolboy International, has started four 1st team games this season in the Conference South, and featured in another 5 games this term as a playing substitute. Wood manager Ian Allinson said “Lee has featured heavily in my 1st team squads all season. He has played his part in the club's good start, and in fact Lee’s performances at St Neots in our FA win and in our 0-0 draw at Bath meant he was a little unfortunate to lose his starting place."
Fitness Coach Arrives
Kwaku Agyemang has joined the management staff as the first team fitness coach. Agyemang is a 25 year-old Exercise Therapist from North West London, and he started out as fitness coach at the then Combined Counties side Bedfont FC in 2009 after completing a Sports Science degree at Kingston University. A year later, he joined Neil Shipperley at Ryman South side Walton Casuals FC. Kwaku spent 2 and half seasons at Walton Casuals, primarily focusing on general fitness developments of first team players.
Wingate & Finchley have re-signed former player James Gershfield from Ryman Division One's Potters Bar Town.
As a young winger with the Blues he made 28 starts for the senior side and had many substitute appearances, scoring a total of 13 goals between 2007-10. In his two years since with Potters Bar Town, he has pushed further up front and has netted 12 league goals this season already.
The 23-year old said "I am delighted to be back at Wingate & Finchley. Having played here before as a youngster I know what a great club it is and it's great to finally be home, and now I'm ready to prove myself in the Ryman Premier. I have had a great season and a half at Potters Bar but I am relishing the opportunity of stepping up a division and playing for Gary (Meakin) and a club that is so close to my heart."
We are pleased to confirm the signing of Scott Shulton from Hendon, who becomes Gary Meakin's first signing since taking over as manager. The talented midfield player was previously at Wycombe Wanderers and Bishop's Stortford, notably scoring a hat-trick in Stortford's county cup final victory two years ago. He also helped win the Conference South title with Braintree Town in 2011/11. The Maccabi GB Sports Coordinator also represented Great Britain at the last Maccabiah Games as the team came home with a silver medal.
New Manager Gary Meakin Joins
Wingate & Finchley are pleased to confirm that our new manager is Gary Meakin, who moves from nearby Southern League side Northwood.
The club's chairman Aron Sharpe confirmed: "I received many phone calls and emails regarding the job. However, there were only certain managers that I wanted to talk to and I was fortunate that I have had the opportunity to chat formally with four tremendously talented young managers. Dave Norman was always going to be a hard act to follow but I have the right man to replace him in Gary Meakin.
As I have always said, the club is one that develops players and managers to fulfill their potential and play attractive football. I will always look for people who rely on their own ability to spot talent in youngsters and players who have not yet received the opportunity to play at Ryman Premier level - Gary promotes these elements of youth development and playing attractive football. I am also thankful for the manner in which the Northwood chairman has handled our discussions this week."
Gary was appointed Northwood manager in March 2011, moving from a similar role at Hillingdon Borough. He had taken over a struggling Hillingdon side late in the season and guided them to unlikely survival, before achieving an almost identical feat when he was snapped up by Northwood after the following season. Last season Northwood only missed out on the playoffs on the final day of the season, and were finalists in the Middlesex County Cup.
He enjoyed a playing career that took him into the Conference - which included three spells with Northwood, and also playing for North Greenford United, Hendon, Doncaster Rovers, Telford United, Walton Casuals and Harrow Borough. He moved into coaching and management at an early age after retiring through injury.
Derek Lewis will join with him in a coaching capacity.
David Norman announces resignation
The club wishes to confirm the resignation of David Norman as first team manager.
Club chairman Aron Sharpe states:
Dave Norman met me with prior to the FA Trophy game with Hitchin on Monday night and submitted his resignation. The statement shall not be of any great length as there are no extraordinary circumstances. Dave was a fantastic appointment and that fact shall forever be etched in the history of the club. His achievements shall most probably not be replicated.
We, as a club with Dave at the helm, won more under his leadership in three years than most clubs do in a lifetime. So much so that perhaps expectations of everyone at the club needed to be tempered.
This season we have been decimated by injury and it made life very difficult for the management team. The objective is to steady the ship and get our players back playing.
Dave and his family mean a lot to me personally and to the club and that shall always be the case. However, life goes on and with each day comes a new challenge as at all senior football clubs. To replace Dave is not an easy task, however the job has started and as always I intend to see the club progress and intend to maintain its ethos of progressing local youth players and also giving young local talent opportuntity through the club. We also have to adhere to our roots and ensure that Jewish players have the opportunity to play at a high level and over the last couple of years I have been guilty of allowing the club to veer a little off course. Whether that is right only time shall tell.
I would also like to thank Steve Clark for his time at the club, we shall miss both and wish them luck going forward.
Concord Rangers preview
Wingate & Finchley host Concord Rangers on Saturday looking to record back-to-back home league victories for the first time this season.
Concord Rangers will present a difficult challenge though, sitting just one point and two places below Wingate & Finchley. Despite home advantage for the Blues, Concord Rangers have actually picked up all-but one of their points on the road so far this campaign, winning two and drawing one from four away games. Their last outing was at Margate on Tuesday night, where they secured a 2-0 win over a side flying high in the Ryman Premier, courtesy of two late goals from Tony Stokes.
Stokes is the side’s top scorer having netted seven times in 14 games this term and his partnership with fellow striker Harry Elmes, who has five in nine, is as potent as any in the division. The pair have attracted interest from numerous Football League clubs recently, after two goal-laden seasons with the Beach Boys. That potent strike-force contributes to a generally goal-laden outfit, as the side, upon finishing 14th last season, one place behind Wingate & Finchley, scored 72 goals - a total only five teams could better. Having said that, their attacking potency comes somewhat at the expense of their defensive work, as their 79 goals conceded was the fourth worst in the league last season, with only the bottom recording larger totals.
They’ve started this season in a similar vein, conceding a joint-division high of 15 goals already, but their ‘goals for column’ continues to balance it up. Wingate & Finchley will have chances to get goals then, but will be wary of a threatening attack. The Blues will be hopeful of welcoming back some key men for the fixture too, having been without a number of first team regulars in Tuesday’s win over Harrow Borough. Preview by Mike Carre
Wingate & Finchley venture into new territory on Saturday as they travel south to meet Whitehawk for the first time.
Whitehawk have had something of a meteoric rise in recent years, as they won promotion from the Sussex County League in 2009/10, debuting in the Ryman League (Division One South) in 2010/11, before winning the title the following season, and thus, a place in the Ryman Premier Division.
Wingate & Finchley should be wary of the newly-promoted side for a number of reasons, not least because they have begun life in their new terrain rather well, sitting sixth, on 11 points after six games. The Brighton-based side also boasted an excellent home record last season, winning 15 of their 20 games at the Enclosed Ground, losing just once.
Their last league game on home turf saw them smash Thurrock 5-1, although a 3-1 reverse to Lowestoft Town and a goalless draw to Hendon show they are unlikely to repeat their dominance at home from last term.
Dave Norman’s men will go there with some confidence though, having secured a good win against Ryman League Division One (North) high-flyers Potter Bar Town in the FA Trophy last weekend. That win, on the back of two straight defeats, will boost the side, who are desperate to really get their campaign up and running after a frustratingly inconsistent start. Preview by Mike Carre
Non League Day Promotion
We are delighted to announce that we will be running a “pay what you like” day, where any supporter visiting the ground will be able to choose how much you wish to payfor a ticket to watch the match, rather than our typical fixed prices of £10 adults, £5 concessions, £3 U16's and free for U12's.
We will also be running other fun activities on the day focusing on ensuring a fun day out for children, of which further details will follow.
For more information on Non-League Day please see www.nonleagueday.co.uk
Dave Norman's view
Speaking on the hard-fought 2-1 victory at Thurrock on Saturday, manager David Norman was very pleased with the performance: "Thurrock is a very difficult place to come to, they are a club with a good pedigree having come down from the Conference South. I thought our midfield was superb throughout the match, and up front Leon Smith once again proved that he is lethal in front of goal and could have scored three or four if it hadn't have been for some great goalkeeping.
Overall we defended with resilience and played sensibly in the right areas. We now need to remain focused and concentrate on the FA Cup game."
Pleased with victory
Assistant manager Steve Clark, in temporary charge for the game against Carshalton Athletic, was extremely happy with the manner of the 1-0 victory on Monday. "I thought we showed real maturity," he said," with our decision-making in particular, and we dealt with all situations thrown at us throughout the game."
"The defenders had some difficult moments and made good decisions at the right times, and in general we looked stronger and more resilient as a unit as opposed to the previous three games which have been hit and miss."
For the third game running a host of chances went begging for the Blues, but Clark is not worried by this - "Our finishing could have been better, but the most important thing is that the goalscorers are in the right positions to score which is very encouraging."
Meanwhile Daniel Morris made his debut this week for the club. The 28 year old striker was previously a West Ham scholar and spent last season at Horsham.
Under 18s Wingate & Finchley 3-2 Staines Town
On a warm summer's evening Wingate & Finchley Ryman Youth team opened up their league campaign against Staines Town with an incredible 3-2 victory against all odds.
Missing the captain and vice captain through injury and absence, and with the squad deeply depleted due to the holiday period and further injuries, the opportunity came for younger players to make a name for themselves. They did more than this, confident and resilient they put up a good fight in a well-contested match.
The game was a very closely fought affair with Wingate stepping up a gear when necessary going in 2-0 up at half time. After being hit by injury to Andrew Tessaras early on in the first half, he was replaced by Karl Stevenson, and Wingate scored two quick goals just after the half hour mark. The first was from Harry Tew-Robinson and the second by 16 year old Carlo Marenghi. Wingate came out the blocks the fastest and scored an early goal from another 16 year old Nathan Frazer-Carrol. Wingate then suffered injury to Marenghi after their final susbtitution and a further injury to Jeremy Nestor left them with nine fit players with 30 minutes still remaining. Staines then pulled one back on the hour mark to close the gap to two goals. Staines managed to bring the score back to just one goal with a late consolation goal. This was a great start for the boys and was well contested and even game throughout. With 15 players to return, this season's squad looks more than strong.
Report by Oliver Simnock and Aron Sharpe
Sam Berry - An Introduction
We are pleased to announce that Sam Berry has joined on loan from Billericay Town, the side promoted as champions from our division last season. The 26 year old has some high profile clubs in his CV, including Peterborough and Stevenage Borough, and local rivals Hendon.
Berry made his debut on Saturday in the season opener with Canvey Island. He plays in midfield, either to the right or through the centre, and his trademark crossing, set pieces and long throws will be a huge asset to the side.
He said: "I have played against Wingate many times and know all about the club and know Dave [Norman] well. Playing on such a great pitch always helps and I am really glad to have joined."
Three players sign
This season we have added three players to the squad which hopefully help to continue our progression seen over the last few years. John Kyriacou has joined us from Chesham United. John is a talented right back,and has featured through most of pre-season. Midfielder Sam Berry has joined from Billericay Town. Sam played over 40 games for Billericay last season and was an integral part of their championship winning side.
Another face returning to Wingate & Finchley is Ajet Shehu. Ajet, former Young Player of the Year, has returned from playing professional football in Kosovo and should be available for selection over the next week once international clearance has been granted.
Three players depart
Max Mitchell, Ross Parmenter and Ola Williams have left the club this week. Parmenter, who signed a year ago from Brentwood Town, has joined Premier side East Thurrock United, whilst Max Mitchell has joined up with Tony Faulkner at Cheshunt. Ola Williams meanwhile has featured 114 times for the club since his debut in 2008. Manager David Norman said, "I wish all the boys the very best, they have been great to work with but understand their need to play week in week out which I can't quite guarantee at this time."
Wingate & Finchley 2 Ware 2
Wingate & Finchley were denied a win over local neighbours Ware in the final friendly of the summer, after the visitors staged a late combeack from a two goal deficit.
The first half was cagey with a lack of clear cut opportunities, and for Wingate Marc Henry went closest with a near post header that missed the target. However Ware looked comfortable to let Wingate hold possession as they looked to hit on the counter. One such attack down the right side was only averted by a superb sliding tackle in the box from Daniel Nielsen as the Ware winger shaped to shoot.
Lewis Jones intercepted a slack pass outside the left edge of Ware's box to create a dangerous break for Wingate, and he set up Anderson Pinto and Leon Smith who both had shots from ten yards blocked in quick succession.
The second half was a more open affair and Ware striker Green took a potshot from 30 yards as the ball sat up nicely for him, but the dipping volley flew over the crossbar.
Lewis Jones again was alert to make an interception and this time he set up Marcus Milner though his shot was hooked narrowly wide of the left post.
Wingate finally took the lead ten minutes into the second half as young winger Anderson Pinto tapped home a low cross at the far post. Fifteen minutes later and he had doubled his tally. John Kyriacou, pushed forwards from his initial right-back berth, reached the right byeline and pulled the ball back to Pinto who had found space in the box. With a sweet strike he drilled the ball low into the near corner past the despairing keeper's dive.
Ware pulled one back with a penalty with fifteen minutes remaining. As Murat Karagul found himself marking the right winger he was adjudged to have clipped him in the box - Shane Wyllie slotting home the spot kick.
The returning Josh Cooper was one of many substitutions in this half, and he struck the crossbar with a deflected chip. However Ware levelled the scores late on as Wyllie converted another penalty in stoppage time.
The season starts next week for Wingate with a visit of Canvey Island to Summers Lane on Saturday.
East Thurrock Reserves 3 Wingate & Finchley Reserves 6
Wingate & Finchley travelled to East Thurrock with a youthful reserve team as they build up to the upcoming season.
As expected East Thurrock were a strong and quick team, immediately putting pressure on Wingate. The Wingate team defence, led by a commanding back to form Adam Forrester and David Long fresh from his debut with the first team, cutting out all danger.
Using a different tactic from their well drilled passing game, the team worked to first team directives, turning around East Thurrock and eventually forcing a mistake when Symeon Taylor stole the ball wide on the left , beating two defenders and drilling the ball into the bottom corner. Tyrell Benjamin, as relentless as always, followed quickly beating a Thurrock defender to slot the ball home sending Wingate into a 2-0 lead.
The hosts came back into the game being the stronger side for the middle third of the game as Wingate experimented with different formations. When suddenly our technically able players turned on the style; following a second goal from Tyrell Benjamin, Gavin Suddell stuck the sweetest of dipping drives and in the move of the game Errol Ozkmorou volleyed home from a sweeping move from left to right, involving numerous outfield players.
Cairo Duncan wrapped up the scoring with a twenty yard low drive to see Wingate finish emphatic 6-3 winners.
There were outstanding performances from each player, with midfielders Andreas Kyprianou, Jeremy Nestor and Jamie Dickens working tirelessly for 90 minutes.
In a season where each game is a learning curve the team have continued to show the young talent at the club.
Oxhey Jets 5 Wingate & Finchley 1
Wingate & Finchley were resoundingly beaten by Spartan South Midlands side Oxhey Jets, thanks to a four goal flurry in the closing stages in an otherwise even contest for the previous 80 minutes. The home side opened the scoring very early as Lewis Puttman, star of a Sky Sports News article earlier this year, netted past Gavin King. However Oxhey were not ahead for long as Blues talisman Leon Smith levelled the sides shortly afterwards.
The grass was long but Wingate were passing the ball around beautifully and pinning back the hosts. At the end of an intricate move Smith was played in but his chip missed the near post by inches. However this was the only chance of real note as the territorial domination did not cut the home side open.
Most of the second half was a stalemate as Oxhey seemed content to let the visitors keep possession as any threat was minimal.
However the hosts grew in confidence as the score stayed level, and with ten minutes remaining Oxhey took the lead with a header from Cornelius Keating after a wide cross, signalling the start of a dramatic closing spell. The third goal stole the show as the home side secured their victory, with Puttman scoring his second goal catching Gavin King completely unawares with a drive from distance that almost broke the net.
He added two more in the final two minutes, both identical breakaway goals, with clinical finishing as the Wingate defence were left dumbstruck.
Codicote 0 Wingate & Finchley 3
In their third friendly of the preseason, Wingate & Finchley secured their first victory in this visit into Hertfordshire to face Codicote of the Spartan South Midlands League. The Gosling Stadium, which includes an angled cycling track, was a strange venue for viewing a football match but the playing surface was in excellent condition and made for an enjoyable game of football.
Wingate dominated the opening stages with controlled possession and regimented defending, that ensured the hosts saw little of the ball. The breakthrough came in the 18th minute with the first clear opportunity, as Leon Smith received Ola Williams' through ball and lobbed the stranded goalkeeper.
Wingate took the pressure off after the goal and Codicote forced their way back into the game. As they pressed higher up the pitch Wingate began to give the ball away as they found less time on the ball. Late on in the half the Codicote centre forward missed a golden chance when left free from a cross from the right but miscued with a close range volley. The Blues were restricted to long range efforts all of which missed the target.
Wingate made eight changes at the break to give the whole squad a runout, and only 11 minutes after the restart the lead was doubled. Holding-midfielder Mark Henry surged forward and took a potshot from 25 yards, finding the net expertly as the ball arrowed into the bottom right corner. Confidence started to flow, and Paul Wright went on a jinking foray up the left wing. He selflessly squared the ball for Anderson Pinto but his shot was sliced off target.
The second half played like the opening 20 minutes as Wingate controlled possession, although in a rare chance Codicote should have halved the deficit when the number 16 was found in acres of space, but his volley found the underside of the crossbar.
At the other end, following a speedy break down the wing by Harry Robinson, Pinto unleashed a well-hit drive on the turn from ten yards but the keeper reacted instinctively to parry the ball up and away.
Tactics and formations were shuffled in planning for the season ahead, and Manager David Norman brought himself on for a late cameo at centre-back. He added gloss to the scoreline as he powered home a header from close range following a corner, to make the score 3-0..
Prestatyn Town 2 Wingate & Finchley 0
Wingate & Finchley continued their pre-season preparations with a long trip to North Wales to play Prestatyn Town - high flyers of the Welsh Premier League.
The Blues, missing several regulars, started brightly. They played an elegant passing game, despite the players not quite enjoying the playing surface. The bright start was halted by a goal from the home side in the 20th minute. Player-manager Neil Gibson managed to shimmy his way through several challenges before slotting the ball past Gavin King. The lead was doubled before the break, a powerful far post header from Michael Parker after a deep cross from a wide position by Davies.
In the second half, Wingate & Finchley stepped up their passing game and began to create real chances, the best of which fell to Murat Karagul who somehow managed to head the ball wide when it seemed easier to score. With subsitutions taking the pace out of the game late on, it eased to a walking pace.
Despite the 2-0 defeat, there were more positives to take away from the game than negatives. Performances from Max Mitchell in midfield and the young Anderson Pinto particularly noteworthy.
Team from: Gavin King, Marc Weatherstone, Paul Wright, Danny Nielsen, Lewis Jones, Max Mitchell, Mark Henry, Murat Karagul, Anderson Pinto, Leon Smith. Rolling subs: Ola Williams and Dave Norman
TNS 2 Wingate & Finchley 1
Wingate & Finchley kicked off their pre-season with a long trip to Oswestry for a prestige match against The Welsh League and Cup Winners, The New Saints, who in 10 days time play Helsingborg FC, Champions of Sweden, in the first leg of The Champions League qualifier. This was a prestigious friendly played in the very impressive arena in Oswestry which in 10 days time will play host to a Champions League match which will be televised and played in front on a 1000+ crowd. TNS played the likely 11 that will start against Helsingborg and to give the match extra bite the scouts of Helsingborg were at the match to watch their opponents.
The match played on an excellent 4G pitch, which has been approved for Champions League matches, started with the home team in control and it looked like it was going to be a long afternoon as the hosts raced into a 2 goal lead inside 15 minutes with goals from Alex Darlington, who profited from space behind the Wingate defence, and then Phil Baker, who nodded home a simple goal from a rebounded header against the crossbar. After this first 15 minute setback the Londoners began to get back into the game and Leon Smith got his first of the new season with a clinical finish, from a pass by Ola Williams, after excellent work in midfield from Lewis Jones and Max Mitchell. The game see-sawed both ways and each side created chances but there were to be no more goals in an excellent and even game played in an excellent spirit by both teams. In the end Wingate & Finchley would have felt slightly hard done by to lose by the odd goal and after only 4 training sessions the Management team must have been very satisfied by the performance.
Lineup: Bobby Smith., Ola Williams, Paul Wright, Marc Weatherstone, Kieron Street, Jordan Fowler, Lewis Jones, David Laird, Leon Smith, Max Mitchell, Murat Karagul Substitutes Ross Parmenter, Max Milner, Mark Henry, Anderson Pinto, Osvaldo Pinto