Concord Rangers 2-2 Wingate & Finchley
Wingate & Finchley earned a valuable away point in a tough fixture against high-flying Concord Rangers. On a beautiful sunny October afternoon that defied this miserable Autumn, the game was played in great spirits and at a high tempo and the result was fair as neither side deserved to lose.
The first half was a tight affair as the small pitch caused congestion in the middle of the park so both sides found it difficult to create space and pass the ball low. This led to many long balls being played and both defences were resolute throughout the half in dealing with these. Wingate & Finchley's best chance fell to right full-back Marc Weatherstone. A long free kick was launched into the box by Tim Lees, and Weatherstone received the ball beyond the far post but was a little surprised the ball fell to him and in a hurry he toe-poked his shot into the side netting.
With just moments to go before the break the home side took the lead. It was going to take something special to open the scoring in the game and that is what duly came. Cole was given acres of space on the right side outside the area and picked his spot by arcing the ball perfectly into the top far corner leaving Gavin King helpless as the ball sailed over him.
The second half was a totally different game to the first as space seemed to appear and both sides played excellent passing fluid football. After just four minutes The Blues levelled the scores. Craig Ellis found himself on the left wing and curled in a perfect cross onto the head of Marvin Samuel who headed the ball home from close range.
Wingate & Finchley grew from this goal and started to control possession and looked the more likely team to score the crucial third goal. However against the run of play some uncharacteristic calamitous defending was punished well by Concord as substitute striker Barrow finished a one-on-one with ease.
Again Wingate & Finchley hit straight back, this time scoring from the third of three consecutive Tim Lees corners. From the first corner kick, Michael Sacks rose highest at the far post but was denied by a brilliant reflex save from the keeper Rafis. Sacks went one step better from the third corner as again he won the header, and with Rafis stranded off his line Sacks' header had a free passage to the back of the net.
Concord finished the game the stronger as an intricate passing move down the right wing dazzled Wingate & Finchley and as the cross came in to Heale inside the six yard area he seemed certain to score, but instead diverted the ball onto the post.
Manager Michael Stone said: "I thought today we showed a lot of resilience as a team, coming back twice during the match from a goal behind. We felt unlucky to come in at half time one down, but started passing better in the second half and I thought the momentum really swung when we got the first equaliser. We didn't really grab the game by the scruff of the neck after that equaliser but as an away team at a strong side that had made an extremely good start to the season it is a valuable point and one that when we look back on we will realise its worth.
We now have three league games at home and we must strive to bank the points."
Wingate & Finchley: Gavin King, Marc Weatherstone, Kieran Street (Ola Williams), Craig Ellis, Bobby Aisien, Michael Sacks, Tim Lees, Marvin Samuel, Dean Williams (Chris Chase), Leon Nelson, Steve Velandia (Joe O'Brien). Sub: Jake Furman, Dean Nyman.