By our roving football reporter, Ayisha Khan
Wingate and Finchley cruised to victory last Saturday over Cheshunt, giving them a comfortable four point lead over the bottom playoff contenders. It was a match that Wingate set out to dominate, with Cheshunt attempting to resist in midfield but unable to create enough chances.
The match got off to an even start with both teams attempting to win possession, but just four minutes into the game, Wingate gained an early decider. A long ball was collected by Leon Smith, who on slipping in the box managed to find Lewis Jones, who then smacked it into the back of the net.
Chances for Wingate continued, but as Cheshunt took control of midfield, they dispossessed Smith and Josh Cooper, with Gary Burrell constantly battling for the ball. His cross was brilliant, but no one could claim it, and Wingate missed the chance to double.
As the game went into the first half hour, Smith came close to goal but couldn’t get round the Cheshunt defenders; Jones unable to assist. Cheshunt began to unravel Wingate’s midfield as they made a threatening long pass, but were overcome by a Wingate tackle. Burrell made another perfect cross to Jones, who couldn’t stretch to head the ball into the net.
Wingate attacked again as Cooper passed to Joe O’Brien, who split Cheshunt’s two defenders but eventually lost the ball. Smith found himself isolated on numerous occasions, yet unable to get past Cheshunt’s excellent goalie, Joe Wright. At the other end, Cheshunt’s Sam Byles shot just wide over the goal corner.
The second half opened with Wingate pressing forward once more, this time with Cooper shooting wide. Wingate’s left flank worked overtime when Wright, Burrell and Jones collaborated to produce on target shots that were all but futile. Smith found himself alone in the box, winged by chasing Cheshunt defenders, and persistence rewarded as he made a beautiful diagonal cross to Burrell, who fired it into back of the net to double the host’s lead.
The game then steered into a succession of free kicks for Wingate, one of which was taken by Cooper, but sailed over the heads of his team mates. Cheshunt followed with a superb assailant on Wingate’s defence, having an attempt cleared off the line by Wright, who unluckily handed the ball back to Sam Byles in the process. Byles scored hot off the rebound in the 72nd minute to close the gap for the visitors.
With under 15 minutes left to play, Wingate pressed for a third, but were cleared by Cheshunt’s tight defence. Cooper came close as he chipped the ball towards the net, only to go wide. In the last seconds of stoppage time, Cheshunt’s Dave Hicks tried for the draw, but Bobby Smith made a comfortable save.
Lineup: Smith B, Weatherstone, Wright, O’Brien, Rifat, Shehu, Cooper (Sloma 77), Henry (Fowler 65), Smith L, Jones (Karagul 77), Burrell. Subs: Williams, McLachlan.