Score 1-1 after 90 minutes
Wingate & Finchley were dealt a harsh blow in their quest to reach Wembley as Wealdstone FC came from behind to win an FA Trophy First Round replay at Summers Lane. The hosts, however, got off to a perfect start. On four minutes, Steve Wales’ corner evaded everyone inside the area but Ahmet Rifat chased the loose ball, crossed first time and Reece Beckles-Richards was on hand to flick home the opener.
Eight minutes later, Beckles-Richards nearly doubled his – and Wingate’s - tally as he flicked on an effort from Rob Laney’s cross; but the ball drifted inches wide of North’s left-hand post. On 20 minutes, goalkeeper Shane Gore was presented with the first of many challenges, but parried away Matthew Whichelow’s free-kick down to his left. On the counter attack Laney played in Wales, who fired an effort well wide of the right-hand post from just inside the area. From this, the visitors’ Scott McGleish was presented with an open goal but was prevented by a heroic block by Claudiu Vilcu.
A quiet spell preceded another chance for Wales, after fantastic work from Beckles-Richards, but the midfielder could only put his effort wide again. Just before the break, Sean Cronin nearly found the net against his former club but fired well over with an acrobatic effort. The start of the second half saw Gore called into action on 47 minutes to prevent Ricky Wellard’s free-kick from nestling into the bottom corner. Four minutes later, Laney headed over from a floated Wales cross as Wingate pressed on in an attempt to give themselves some breathing space. However, a Wales free-kick was headed low down by Rifat, but straight at North.
On 53 minutes, Cronin re-enacted his centre-back partner’s heroics as he slid in front of Elliot Benyon’s drilled effort and diverted the ball out for a corner. At the other end, Ryan Sellers nearly found the top corner with a shot-cum-cross but North was on hand to parry over. However, in the 69th minute, a push by Alfie Young saw Wealdstone awarded a penalty. Unlike Saturday, Benyon’s effort bounced back off the post and his follow up was heroically pushed over by Gore to keep Wingate 1-0 up.
But Gore’s resistence didn’t last long. A scramble from a well taken corner was bundled home by Benyon and Wingate were left to rue several missed chances and had to find a winner. Ben Pattie and Tanasheh Abrahams both had chances in the dying embers but North was on hand to prevent the former, whilst the latter’s shot flew just wide.
In extra time, Cronin almost put the hosts back in front but yet another bicycle kick flew over. The front three for Wingate then connected well, but Abrahams could only fire wide again as the hosts pressed to draw first blood in extra time. However, as time went on, it was evident that the next goal would be the winner. And, in the 120th minute, a free-kick from the edge of the box was put into the bottom corner by Daniel Green to break Wingate hearts.
Despite the defeat, the fans were left with nothing but pride after taking a team 29 places above them through 210 minutes of football to lose it with the final kick of the game. Keith Rowland’s side can travel to Met Police on Saturday with their heads held high.
WingateTV: Shane Gore and Reece Beckles Post Wealdstone: HERE
Report by Nikhil Saglani