Wingate and Finchley sent themselves into the top half of the Ryman Premier League with an emphatic 4-0 win at home to Tonbridge Angels. The Blues had failed to beat the Angels the last four meetings between the sides with their last win over the Kent outfit coming in February 2015. But any first half nerves were eased by Luke Ifil scoring from close range just before the break. And Wingate refused to let up - two goals in the second half from Steve Wales, a sublime strike from Reece Beckles-Richards and an excellent goalkeeping display from Shane Gore handed the Blues their biggest league win of the season.
It was Tonbridge who came closest to opening the scoring but Damien Scannel skimmed his header just wide of Gore’s post. With the sides effectively canceling each other out, only a 36th minute moment of magic between Billy Healey and Rob Laney out on the left wing afforded the latter enough space to lay a ball off for Ifil to tuck home between goalkeeper Anthony Di Bernardo’s legs. And whatever Keith Rowland said to his players in the dressing room at half time certainly worked.
The half-time Youth Team Day presentation of Wingate and Finchley’s Under 18s, 17s, 16s and 15s sides had barely finished when Wales latched on to Healey’s 49th minute through ball, rounded Di Bernardo and slotted into an empty net to double the hosts’ lead. Ifil nearly added a third but could only drag his shot into the side netting before Scannel forced Gore into an excellent save with a powerful, close-range shot.
But it was substitute Beckles-Richards finally put the game out of reach when he caught Ifil’s 78th minute through ball on the half-volley and delicately lobbed Di Bernardo from just outside the box. Tonbridge continued to fight their way back and Gore had to be alert to palm Nathan Elder’s header away from the top corner. Tom Phipp sent a free kick screaming just over Wingate’s crossbar but it was going to take something very special to beat a goalkeeper in as fine a from as WIngate's.
And when Tonbridge captain Jerome Sobers brought down Beckles-Richards in the box as they chased after a loose ball in injury time, Wales was only too happy to step up and dispatch the penalty to complete his brace and ensure all three points went to Wingate.
The Blues now sit just four points outside the playoff zone with three games in hand over sixth placed Dulwich Hamlet and they will look to continue this vein of form when they travel to Billericay on Tuesday.
WingateTV: Ahmet Rifat Post Tonbridge Angels: HERE
Report by Andy Gerlis