Wingate and Finchley earned an impressive 1-1 draw against Conference Premier side Woking on a showery day at the Maurice Rebak Stadium. Wingate seemingly recovered well from their 7-1 defeat to Boreham Wood on Tuesday and the performance was almost unrecognisable from the midweek match. Despite the two division gap between the sides, Wingate arguably started the better team, with Ahmet Rifat’s shot being deflected narrowly wide after Tommy Tejan-Sie won the ball well in midfield and neatly passed to Rifat.
Striker Marc Charles-Smith almost made the breakthrough for Wingate three minutes later on his first start for the club. Reece Beckles-Richards’ cross was met well by Charles-Smith but saved well at the near post by Woking ‘keeper Nathan Baxter. Woking, managed by ex-Wingate player and coach Anthony Limbrick, started to settle into the game after Wingate’s early chances, and James Demetriou had a shot blocked from the edge of the box by Ola Williams.
Woking opened the scoring after 19 minutes when striker Inih Effiong took advantage of Sean Cronin’s misjudgement and confidently slotted past Shane Gore. Woking’s goal, however, didn’t look to knock Wingate’s confidence as minutes after the goal, Beckles-Richards’ cross was laid back to Luke Ifil by Tejan-Sie however neither could convert as the ball evaded both and rolled wide.
Wingate managed one more opportunity before half-time – Beckles-Richards 20-yard strike flew over the bar after a good spell of play. The half-time whistle went with Woking leading 1-0 however it was evident that Wingate weren’t going to go down without a fight. Only one substitution was made for Wingate at half time, with Kunlie Otudeko replacing Tejan-Sie.
Woking continued to show their quality with excellent build-up play however throughout the second half, the clinical finishing shown by Effiong in the first half eluded them – Demetriou again failed to score after collecting the ball on the edge of the box and firing well over. Wingate still showed no signs of giving up, as Beckles-Richards shot was saved after Otudeko’s switch and minutes later Joe Sharpe was unlucky to have two direct corners cleared off the line, with the third cleared.
Rifat and Charles-Smith then made way for Afolabi Obafemi and Joe Newson as Wingate searched for the equaliser. The equaliser almost came when Cronin headed Sharpe’s corner just wide at the far post and more substitutions came – Wes Parker and DeReece Vanderhyde replaced Joe Kizzi and Ola Williams. Woking arguably should have doubled their advantage and effectively killed of the challenge of Wingate when Bobson Bawling’s cutback gave Demetriou enough time to place a finish, however he blazed over the bar from inside the area.
Wingate’s resistance finally paid off with 11 minutes to go – Beckles-Richards did well down the right with quick footwork, and unleashed a venomous shot which was caught at first by ‘keeper Sheldrick however spilled into the side netting. The match ended 1-1, with a spirited Wingate performance matching the Conference Premier side right until the end. Wingate will be hoping to push on from this impressive result at Hertford Town on Tuesday night.
Report by Jamie Grossman