Worthing came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory away to Wingate & Finchley on Saturday, a result with significant implications at both ends of the league.
Whilst the Blues had taken a largely deserved lead not long after the hour mark, the Worthing comeback was completed with 7 minutes to go courtesy of a brace by substitute David Ajiboye.
The first period saw both sides cancel each other out for large parts, with few goalscoring opportunities despite a relatively high tempo to the match.
Wingate did, however, have some chances to take the lead; Sean Cronin met Charlie Ruff’s curling corner but could only nod wide at the far post and Charlie Cole saw his low strike saved with relative ease by Kleton Perntreou.
The visitors came the closest to scoring in the opening 45 minutes when Shane Gore made a good save from Ricky Aguiar’s long-range free kick, allowing Ollie Pearce to latch onto the rebound. But, Gore was on hand once again to impressively tip Pearce’s attempted dink wide. The second half was certainly more lively with both sides showing plenty more attacking intent. The opening stages after the break were dominated by the hosts, with Reece Beckles-Richards failing to convert decent chances on a couple of occasions and Layne Eadie seeing his powerful shot from the wide left hand side saved by Perntreou.
Wingate’s continual knocking on Worthing’s door finally came to fruition on 63 minutes. Beckles-Richards was played clean through on goal and had plenty of time to set himself before releasing a shot which was saved well by Perntreou. Despite the save, Worthing’s defenders stood idle as the ball rolled into the path of Irnti Rapai, who sidefooted calmly into the net from outside the box.
Unfortunately for Wingate, their lead was taken away almost immediately after the breakthrough. Ajiboye was thrown into the fray and after minutes of being on, equalised for Worthing. A well-worked corner left Ajiboye unmarked to volley home from inside the box.
Blues debutant Donovan Makoma so nearly continued the pattern of a goal every three minutes; soon after the equaliser, the ball fell to the midfielder inside the box but his shot, which was struck straight into the ground, bounced agonisingly over the bar.
As so often seems to be the case for the Finchley outfit this season, the Blues were left to rue their missed chances. With just 7 minutes remaining, a Wingate corner led to a Worthing break and Ajiboye had a clear run on goal before slotting tidily past Gore and putting his side ahead. The goal had a visible impact on Wingate morale and whilst a goal was clearly needed, there was no attacking spark left to provide it. Whilst victory for Worthing keeps them firmly in the hunt for a playoff place, Wingate’s winless run continues to two months and they remain in the relegation zone.
Report by Jamie Grossman