Own goal 51
Wingate & Finchley were eliminated from the Buildbase FA Trophy with a tinge of pride away at National League South side Wealdstone FC. Despite matching the higher league outfit for much of the game, Keith Rowland’s side fell to a deflected second half effort.
Straight from kick off, former Wingate man, Ryan Sellers drove through the Wingate midfield and attempted to round Shane Gore - but could only run the ball out of play at the pivotal moment. After settling into the game, Reece Beckles-Richards gave Wingate their first shot on goal as his fierce drive had to be palmed away by Jonathan North before his defence cleared.
Abobaker Eisa began to cause havoc for the Wingate defence, firstly seeing his low shot saved by Gore and then a later shot blocked by Ola Williams. On 22 minutes, Marc Charles-Smith looked to have opened the scoring with a drive into the bottom right corner but North managed to get down quickly and push the goal bound effort wide for a corner.
Ten minutes later, a fired up Sellers took aim from 35 yards out and, via a deflected, forced Gore to back peddle and push the shot over the back. The last chance of the game fell to Ahmet Rifat, who saw his shot deflect off Edward Oshodi and evade the crossbar by a matter of inches.
The second half began in the pouring rain and saw Wingate come out of the blocks flying. Quentin Monville saw his long range effort deflect off Glenn Wilson and roll no more than a couple of inches wide of North’s left hand post. Minutes later, Monville spurned a glorious opportunity, blazing over after having beaten Ciaron Brown to a 50-50.
And Wingate were made to pay for those missed chances as, on 51 minutes the Stones took the lead. Eisa’s trademark left wing run saw him cut inside, fire across goal but the ball was diverted into his net by ex-Wealdstone man, Sean Cronin - who had not put a foot wrong for the entire game.
Rifat and Beckes-Richards both put chances wide of North’s net after the goal but Wingate were being forced to play against a Wealdstone side who had dropped back in order to preserve their lead - and avoid a repeat of last season’s game, which went to a replay. Rifat and Charles-Smith saw shots saved by North while at the other end, Gore was able to hold onto Sellers’ effort and Green soon fired over the bar.
Wingate’s best chance of the half came on 75 minutes when Beckles-Richards played in substitute Afolabi Obafemi, but he curled over the bar from the edge of the area first time; instead of opting to take a touch in acres of space.
The last chances of the game fell to Charles-Smith and Elliot Benyon. The Wingate man dragged his shot wide from 10 yards out before Gore denied Benyon with a flying save to his left. In the end, the National League South side’s quality told and they held on for a hard-fought 1-0 win and see themselves into the hat for the Second Round.
Report by Nikhil Saglani