By Ayisha Khan
Wingate & Finchley won a decisive game at Thamesmead Town last week to regain their position in the playoffs, wrapping up what has been a superb week for the club after securing the League Cup.
The game sparked to life when Josh Cooper played a long ball to Leon Smith, who then cut towards the goal, only to lift his shot over the crossbar. At the other end, space opened up for Thamesmead when Marcus Perona volleyed wide from close range.
Both teams struggled on the uneven pitch, but Wingate took the lead just minutes before half time with a touch of quality. Gary Burrell, keeping the ball in play, passed it into the box with his weaker right foot, before Lewis Jones collected the cross and drove the ball into the net from 15 yards, leaving Thamesmead’s goalkeeper motionless.
Wingate’s lead was doubled when Bobby Smith’s inch-perfect goal kick picked out Leon Smith, who then rolled the ball past the home side’s posts.
At the start of the second half, Bobby Smith made an important save when he blocked an attempt by Raphael Momoduand, leaving the visitors to once again capitalise on their lead. Ahmet Rifat split Thamesmead’s defence, whilst Leon Smith remained unmarked, beating the defenders to the ball as he pushed forward, rounded the keeper, and hit it home to make it three.
The game grew weary with odds stacked high against Thamesmead, but with just 15 minutes remaining, Jordan Fowler played a short ball into the path of Leon Smith, who tried for the hat-trick, only to be denied by keeper Sam Mott.
Wingate & Finchley maintain their comfortable position in the playoffs as they prepare to host Cheshunt on Saturday.
Lineup: Smith B, Weatherstone, Wright, O’Brien, Nielsen, Rifat, Cooper, Henry (Fowler 63), Smith, Jones (Karagul 63), Burrell (Sloma 75). Subs: Williams, Shehu.
[Editor’s note: The all family special day starts at 1pm and the match starts at 3pm]