Wingate & Finchley started the 2008/09 season in style with a fantastic away victory at Great Wakering Rovers, scoring four goals in the process. The win however was not as comprehensive as the scoreline suggested as Wakering put up a strong fight, but clinical finishing and composure separated the teams.
Great Wakering started with more possession and were getting into dangerous areas, but created no chances of note as the Wingate defence held firm, and then in the 16th minute the Blues opened the scoring. Wayne Grant played long lofted through ball to Chris Chase. His marker won the race to the ball and tried to head it back to the keeper, however he over-hit it and the ball bounced back off the crossbar straight into the path of Chase to easily nodded the ball home.
The game evened up after this goal as Wingate grew in confidence, however some lazy defending resulted in a scramble in the Wingate area but Gavin King was alert and smothered the ball efficiently. At the other end a sweeping move from right to left put Anthony Limbrick in space on the wing, he crossed to Marc Weatherstone at the far post who volleyed firmly but a slight deflection took the sting out of the shot and the keeper gathered comfortably.
The lead was doubled in the 33rd minute when Craig Ellis played the ball up to Wayne Grant, he then held off his marker and rolled the ball on to Chris Chase. Chase turned his man superbly and created a free run at goal, before shooting early into the bottom left corner past the helpless keeper.
The second goal seemed to kill the home side off, as Wingate & Finchley began to dominate possession entirely and looked to secure the win with a third goal. This duly came with two minutes left until the break. Gavin King cleared the ball upfield to Wayne Grant, who jumped high to win the header and flicked the ball on to Steve Velandia. He controlled the ball and waited for the overlapping run of Grant. That run came and Velandia played him in with a perfectly weighted pass and Grant rifled the ball home from 15 yards.
Chances flowed for both sides at the start of the second half as Chase had a one-on-one shot blocked by the keeper's hand, and Wayne Grant volleyed over after a superb lofted through-ball from Marvin Samuels. At the other end Great Wakering thought they had scored but were correctly denied by the offside flag.
Wakering were reinvigorated at this stage and scored their deserved first goal on the hour mark - a low drilled cross from the left was turned in from close range by Jimmy Webb. This goal changed the game as for about 15 minute Wingate & Finchley lost their composure and struggled to keep the ball. However the defence and goalkeeper Gavin King stood firm and dealt well with everything thrown at them. As time wore on, The Blues regrouped and began to play slow possession football to kill Wakering's momentum. This had the desired effect and in the 83rd minute the win was put beyond doubt when Chris Chase was tugged down inside the penalty area. He confidently stood up to take the resulting penalty and sent the keeper the wrong way to secure a dream hat-trick on debut. This goal concluded Wingate & Finchley's first opening day win since 1999.
Whilst obviously delighted with his own performance, Chase was thankful to his teammates and said "It's always nice to score three goals and the whole team contributed to them and to the win. Hopefully we can go the next step and win again on Tuesday night."
Manager Michael Stone was equally pleased with the start: "I'm obviously delighted with the result and it is fantastic to open the season with a win. We always knew we would have to work very hard to get something from this fixture, but the squad know that there are many things we can improve on, We now have two home games in the space of a few days which we need to take the confidence that we have gained from today into those matches."
Wingate & Finchley: Gavin King, Marc Weatherstone (Ola WIlliams 76), Anthony Limbrick, Craig Ellis, Bobby Aisien, Michael Sacks, Tim Lees, Marvin Samuels, Chris Chase, Wayne Grant (Daniel Clarke 67), Steve Velandia (Joe O'Brien 63). Subs: Kieran Street, Dean Williams