Much has changed at Summers Lane, home of Wingate & Finchley, since I was last there (some 40 years ago). It was just Finchley then, a high-flying team who reached the semi final of the then Amateur Cup. Finchley went on to have dire money troubles and Wingate, who played at the time on a patch of land wanted by the M1 extension, with the help of the council cleared the debts and merged with Finchley and at the same time moved into Summers Lane. Since my visit the pitch has been moved and facilities improved and Wingate & Finchley are doing well in the Bostik Premier whilst also still in the Buildbase FA Trophy and now also the Velocity Trophy.
After a dreadful journey to North London, (I.ve never seen so many blue lights and accidents on one journey!) but once we got to the ground the hospitality was excellent and it was great to reminisce about the past with the Wingate & Finchley officials.
Now onto the game! Kane Rowland and new keeper Jordan Carey couldn’t make the game so Harry Brooks and David Smith took their places. There were two other changes from the team that drew against Corinthian-Casuals with Jide Okimeji and Tyrone Guthrie coming in for Lex Allan and Chris Elliott.
This was a contest between two well matched teams but it was a slow burner until a hectic last 6 minutes when 3 goals were scored. For Sittingbourne it was a case of the end of the halves curse hitting them again with all of Wingate & Finchley’s goals coming at the end of the halves.
Sittingbourne took a 26th minute lead when Ben Gorham’s cross ball to the far post was headed firmly into the back of the net by John Coker. Just before that Miles Cornwell, who had a few chances to score, had hit a shot just wide, so it was a deserved lead for the Brickies. It looked as though they would take this lead into half time, when on 42 minutes, Wingate & Finchley won a soft free kick just outside the Brickies area and Nathan Mavilla sent in a cracking effort that gave Brooks no chance.
The game continued as an even contest but with just 6 minutes to go Bola Dowadu and a Wingate player collided in the Wingate penalty area, it looked like the main perpetrator was Dowadu but the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot so he must have seen something that I didn’t. This was only the second penalty Sittingbourne had won in a 90-minute game, with the first coming last Saturday against Corinthian-Casuals, where John Coker was successful. This time Miles Cornwell took the kick and made no mistake to put the Brickies into what looked like a winning lead.
But Wingate suddenly found some new energy and on 86 minutes after a hectic attempt at clearing the ball by the Sittingbourne defence the ball came out to Reece Beckles-Richards on the edge of the Brickies area who smashed it through a ruck of players into the net.
Still we may still have a chance at penalties we thought but 3 minutes later Beccles- Richards sent in a cross and Afolabi Obafemi found space to run in the winner.
One thing that has come out of the two games where they have faced Bostik Premier opposition is that if they take their chances then Sittingbourne can more than hold their own against these higher placed clubs.
Now, as they say, Sittingbourne can concentrate on the league and how to stop conceding goals at these awkward times!
Sittingbourne: Harry Brooks, Chris Webber, Salvyn Kisitu, John Coker (Lex Allan 54 mins), Ben Gorham ©, Tyrone Guthrie, David Smith (Kane Phillip 69 mins), Jide Okimiji, Bola Dowadu, Miles Cornwell, Tom Loynes. Subs not used: Laurence Ball, Charlie Allen, Abdul Malik-Usman
Ken Medwyn's Video and Pics
26 mins, John Coker, Sittingbourne
42 mins, Nathan Mavila, Wingate & Finchley
84 mins, Miles Cornwell, Sittingbourne (Pen)
86 mins, Reece Beckles-Richards, Wingate & Finchley
89 mins, Afolabi Obafemi, Wingate & Finchley
Referee: Paul Johnson
Assistants: James Barry, Liov Koskas
Chris Webber (Yellow)
John Coker (Lex Allan 54 mins)
Ben Gorham (C)
David Smith (Kane Phillip 69 mins)
Jide Okimiji (Yellow)
Subs not used: Laurence Ball, Charlie Allen, Abdul Malik Usman
Ola Williams (Yellow)
Ahmet Rifat (C) (Yellow)
Quentin Monville (Ben Pattie 87 mins)
Marc Charles-Smith (Rob Laney 63 mins)
Subs not used:
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