Sunday, 27 September 2015

Wingate and Finchley 2 v 1 Concord Rangers

Saturday 26th September 2015
Summers Lane, Finchley
FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round
Admission: £10.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 133
Match Rating: 3

Having missed the train preventing me to get to my intended game at AFC Stoneham in the Wessex League, I decided instead to head to north London for some FA Cup action. After two Saturdays of visiting some rather curious venues – one resembling a building site followed by a ridiculously oversized and inappropriate stadium for Step 6 football, I was looking forward to visiting what, by all accounts would be a much more traditional footballing venue.

Summers Lane is about a 15 minute walk from West Finchley tube station and is quite a pleasant ground, generally well maintained and with some quirkiness about it. Spectators are greeted by a range of bright and colourful signs of varying age at the roadside, and then after passing through a turnstile, one walks towards the main stand which straddles the half way line. It is easy on the eye, predominently white with a little blue and has a nice rounded finish to the roof. Whilst it does offer elevated views of the action, it is set a long way back from the pitch and has supporting pillars and floodlight pylons to get in the way of one's view. An interesting feature of the grandstand is that it is two facing, with the back wall separating seating facing the opposite way for spectators watching rugby on the adjacent pitch. Below the stand there are rows of uncovered terracing, with some quite attractive tiling and pathways, as well as a neat hedge and small trees adding to the aesthetic appearance of this length. Along the opposite length is three steps of quite narrow terracing, with the central section covered, and three small plastic pitches are located behind this length. There are narrow paths of hard standing behind both goals, with a small terrace stand immediately behind one of them. The programme promised much but delivered little, impressively and attractively designed but the 48 pages were heavy on advertising and light on interesting, relevant material.

This match had the ingredients to be an interesting FA Cup tie, with the home team doing well in the league below the visitors, who have not started their season well. Wingate and Finchley have gained twenty points from their opening ten league games and were in sixth place is the Isthmian League Premier Division. In the previous round of the FA Cup, they beat Long Buckby 0-4 away. Concord Rangers have picked up ten points from their opening 11 games in the National League South, but had lost their last three league games. Today would be their first game in this year’s competition, and they would be hoping for a repeat of last year’s run, when they reached the First Round proper, taking League Two Mansfield Town to a replay before losing 0-1 at home.

On a mainly warm and sunny afternoon, the game got off to a flying start, with the visitors taking the lead with barely a minute on the clock. After the keeper parried a goal bound header, Tony Stokes reacted first to poke the ball home from a slightly tight angle. The home side must have been fearing the worst, but Concord Rangers were in poor form, and indeed Wingate and Finchley got back on level terms on 16 minutes. They were awarded a free kick side just outside the area, which was tapped sideways to Tommy Tejan-Sie, who fired the ball into the net via the inside of the right hand post. The match then settled down, although both sides always looked they had a goal in them. The home side came closest to going into half time with a lead, when a header was blocked on the line on 36 minutes.

The second half was very much a half of two halves, with the visitors doing most of the attacking in the early stages but did not make the goalkeeper work hard enough, and the closest they came to retaking the lead was when a free kick hit the top of the crossbar before going over. The home side then went on to dominate, but rarely threatened at goal, and Concord Rangers had a great chance following a quick break, but the eventual shot was placed wide. A replay was looking inevitable, until Wingate and Finchley took the lead three minutes from time. Karl Oliyide ran onto a perfectly judged low throughball, and he tapped the ball to the side of the keeper before slotting the ball into the empty net. Concord Rangers never looked likely to save the tie in the remaining minutes as the home team kept the ball in their attacking third, and so it was they who await Monday’s Third Round draw after causing a minor shock today. Concord Rangers will be disappointed how their performance really tailed off in the final half hour, which ultimately cost them any chance of another stab at Football League opposition this season.

No comments: