By Jamie Dickens
The gulf between both sides, in this exciting encounter on Saturday afternoon, was evident as Waltham Forest played victims in a five-nil drubbing at the hands of Finchley’s impressive Wingate and Finchley FC.
Tensions were high at Summers Lane as the play offs were within touching distance for the hosts. David Norman’s side started off confidently as an instinctive long ball from keeper, Bobby Smith, well within his own half caught Forest’s defence napping and found David Laird inside the box. Laird could only volley into the keeper’s hands but it was a sign of what was to come.
The opener was to come shortly after this opportunity which came about after an excellent piece of skill from Wingate’s fearsome striker, Leon smith. Combining strength and nifty footwork to leave three Forest defenders scrambling in his wake, he slid the ball into the bottom corner past on-looking keeper Sidney Anguilley.
Anguilley was given no chance by his defence for Smith’s and Wingate’s second. When an extremely distinctive chipped ball was played into the prolific striker’s path by Gary Burrell, Forest’s captain, Gbenga Sonuga, was left in no-man’s land and could only watch as the ball nestled in the bottom corner once again.
After the interval things only got better for the impressive Leon Smith. He bagged his 27th of the campaign seconds after the re-start. Cleverly, he wrong footed the unlucky Gbenga Ladega and produced an exquisite finish to complete his hatrick. This opened up the flood gates and the fourth was clinched by an outstanding Ahmet Rifat goal on the hour mark volleying in from the edge of the area. The final goal was turned into his own net by former Wingate captain, Marvin Samuel.
This was an emphatic win for the home side and after a slip up by Sudbury they had clinched their play off place by the final whistle. Manager David Norman said “This was the most important game of our season; this is because it could have been a major slip up if we hadn’t got the result. We had a game plan today and the lads responded to it very well. All credit to the opposition, we knew it would be a tough game for us today despite their position in the table, however, after having matched them physically there would be only one winner today and the quality of my squad shone through.” When asked about a possible man of the match, Norman said “Obviously we cannot ignore the fact that Leon has scored an incredible hat-rick today, but he wouldn’t have been able to do this if we hadn’t worked so hard as a team so I’d put today’s result down to a team performance rather than an individual.”