Wingate & Finchley fell to a 2-1 defeat away at league leaders Tonbridge Angels on Saturday afternoon. The hosts’ first half dominance paid off as they scored two goals in the space of five minutes towards the end of the first period. Despite the Blues pulling one back in stoppage time and arguably having the better of the second half, few real chances were created and the equaliser never came.
In only the second minute of the match Rob Laney’s fizzed ball across the face of goal reached its target in centre-back Marc Weatherstone, however he couldn’t sort his feet out and the ball was eventually cleared, although Weatherstone was in fact offside.
Tonbridge substitute Tommy Whitnell saw a tame shot from inside the box saved by Gore just after the half-hour mark but just one minute later, the hosts’ opener came. A dangerous delivery into the box caused problems for the Wingate defence and midfielder Tom Parkinson rose highest to head into the bottom corner and give Tonbridge the lead.
The Angels doubled their advantage a matter of minutes after their first when a corner was whipped in which Sonny Miles headed in at the back post – a sucker punch for Wingate a few minutes before half time. Despite the looming task of overturning a 2-0 lead at the home of the league leaders, Wingate did not appear deterred and even before half time began to mount a comeback.
Lewis Putman had a good chance for Wingate a couple of minutes before the break when Weatherstone feigned a shot before laying it off to Putman but his shot wasn’t powerful enough to test Jonathan Henly.
The Blues did pull one back and it was at the perfect time – first half stoppage time. Scott Shulton, who re-signed for the club last week, whipped a ball to the back post where Laney met it and headed a pinpoint pass to Tommy Tejan-Sie, allowing the midfielder to volley past Henly with the help of a deflection.
Whilst a goal at that period in the match appeared to give Wingate the impetus to complete a comeback, the second half, although Wingate had more possession and crosses than they did in the first, lacked in clear cut chances and it was in fact Tonbridge who had the better chances as the match came to a close.
On the hour, Adam Ramaden sauntered past three Wingate defenders which gave him a clear run at goal however the finished product was not up to standard and the move finished with a ballooned shot over the bar. In the dying embers of the match, Whitnell played it past a defender and again had a run at goal however the host’s first half killer instinct was nowhere to be seen in the second as the substitute’s shot went wide.
Wingate had one last opportunity to make Tonbridge rue their missed chances when they got a free kick in a threatening position in the last minute of stoppage time. Chace O’Neill opted to take the free kick and the set piece was met by David Manu but the substitute agonisingly headed wide.
Wingate will be hoping to get back to winning ways in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round next Saturdayat home to either Aylesbury or Didcot Town. The Blues return to league action at home to Merstham on Saturday 15th September.
Report by Jamie Grossman