Wingate & Finchley vs Cray Wanderers – Isthmian Premier – Saturday 4th February – Match Report

Wingate & Finchley                                    1

Siggers 15

Cray Wanderers                                         0

Cray Wanderers moved out of the playoff positions as bogey side Wingate & Finchley inflicted a first away league defeat since late September with a solitary goal to complete a league double over the Wands.

Despite a positive opening to the match Cray fell behind to a Ben Siggers free kick down the right in the 15th minute and despite the vast bulk of possession and pressure Neil Smith’s side couldn’t force their way back into the game.  After an untidy at times first half, Cray piled on the pressure after the break and Tom Derry, Yahaya Bamba, Anthony Cook twice and Sam Skeffington all came close to at least salvaging a point but in the end fell short and moved down into 6th place in the league.  Goalkeeper Ben Goode proved unbeatable with four good saves during the match and some resolute defending saw the hosts pick up a big three points to move out of the bottom four.

Cray were looking to build on last weekend’s draw with Lewes and started in 4th place and made three changes to the starting lineup with Freddie Carter coming in for Matt Weaire, new loanee signing from Gillingham, Bailey Akehurst for Sam Wood and David Ijaha for Sam Skeffington. Chevron McLean, a new signing on dual registration with Cheshunt was on the bench. 

Wingate & Finchley moved into the bottom four on Tuesday night after defeat at Lewes with ten men and from that side into the team came Ola Willams, Sam Cornish, Dylan Kearney and Emmanuel Yeboah for Mert Apat, Luc Acherman-Stanfield, Elliot Long and Dernell Wynter.

On an overcast afternoon in North London the game started with Cray Wanderers very much on the front foot and in the 4th minute were unfortunate not to take the lead after a fine move down the right which ended with a high quality cross from Yahaya Bamba into the box for Dan Bassett whose effort was pushed over brilliantly by Wingate & Finchley keeper and captain Ben Goode.  A goal at this stage of the match would have set a different pattern to the remainder of the game and shortly after Bamba fired well over from distance.

Wingate & Finchley withstood that early pressure and threatened when Antonis Vasiliou who scored the winner when the sides met at Hayes Lane fired just over the bar with a shot from just outside the area.

In the 15th minute the home side edged ahead following a free kick down the right edge of the penalty area.  From the free kick Ben Siggers curled a shot to the near post which seemed to have taken a nick perhaps off a defender but went into the net.

This seemed to give the home side more confidence and Vasiliou again shot over five minutes later.  Then Dajon Golding put over a cross for Tom Derry which was flicked towards goal but Goode was able to claim the ball.

The rest of the half was rather scrappy with not a great deal of flow but Cray came close just before the half hour when from a throw in down the left Golding broke into the area but fired over the angle of post and crossbar.

Then just before half time Golding down the left set up Bassett who fired a shot wide from outside the area.  At the break though it was Wingate & Finchley who led and had defended stoutly.

HT:  1-0

The second half was played almost entirely in the Wingate & Finchley half and Cray looked to threaten from the start and the impressive Jephte Tanga fired well over from distance.

Cray were beginning to impose themselves but didn’t quite get the rub of the green inside the area especially when Akehurst put over a cross from the left for Derry but the ball came off Michael Olarewaju and was claimed by Goode.  Then a fine cross from the left by  Bassett towards the far post came to Bamba but his shot was well blocked by Ola Williams for a corner.

Cray had to show patience against a hard working side to forge openings and were unlucky when a cross from Bamba was met by the head of Derry but Goode got down to make a smart save almost on the goalline.

The Wands were then awarded a free kick almost centrally outside the area and Cook’s shot was pushed round the left post well by Goode.

Wingate & Finchley perhaps understandably in their league position were looking to disrupt the flow of the game with stoppages and looking occasionally to catch the Wands on the break but it was turning into a frustrating afternoon at times for Cray going forward.

The lively Bamba did well to cut in from the right but couldn’t keep his cross-shot down and went well over before Sam Skeffington and Sam Wood were introduced to the fray and did add some late impetus to the Wands for the latter stages of the game.

Skeffington saw a shot well blocked and was unlucky not to equalise a minute from time when Bassett played a ball across from the right and steered a shot fractionally wide of the left post.  Cook had a couple of shouts for a penalty when tackled inside the area but were both waived away.

Then during five minutes added on time Cray were awarded a free kick down the right of the area and again Cook was unlucky not to score when his shot seemed to be going in but Goode did very well to push the ball behind to frustrate the Wands once again.

In the end despite the half of pressure Cray were not at perhaps their fluent best on the day and couldn’t get the goal they needed and were beaten for the first time away from home in the league since 24th September at Hornchurch.  

Wingate & Finchley have become something of a bogey side for Cray since promotion back to the Isthmian Premier and have won three of the last four meetings and the only side so far to beat the Wands twice this season but have had to work extremely hard to do so and are well used to defying the odds over many years in the league and move out of the bottom four into 17th place on 25 points.

Cray now drop down to 6th place on 47 points behind the top 5 of Bishop’s Stortford, Enfield Town, Aveley, Hornchurch and Canvey Island who all won but certainly by no means out of the picture with back to back home games against Carshalton Athletic and Folkestone Invicta to come.

Definitely not one of the Wands better days this season but so far days like these have been few and far between especially away from home and still plenty to be optimistic about with thirteen games still to go. 

Wingate & Finchley: Ben Goode, David Gbadebeo, Ben Siggers, Alkeo Bani, Michael Olarewaju, Olarinde Williams, Luke Ifil (Matthew Achuba, 71), Sam Cornish, Dylan Kearney, Antonis Vasiliou (Elliott Long, 81), Emmanuel Yeboah: Subs: Mert Apat, Luc Acherman-Stanfield, Fergal Hale-Brown

Booked: Ifil, Bani, Achuba

Cray Wanderers: Shaun Rowley, Jephte Tanga, Jalen Jones, Freddie Carter, Bailey Akehurst, David Ijaha (Sam Wood, 78), Anthony Cook, Yahaya Bamba, Dajon Golding (Sam Skeffington, 71), Dan Bassett, Tom Derry:  Subs:  Matt Weaire, Nyren Clunis, Chevron McLean

Att:  114

Referee: Jack Oxenham

Assistants: Christopher Potter, Benjamin Powell