Report – Wingate & Finchley 1 – 2 Wealdstone
1 - 2 (AET)
Wealdstone booked an intriguing looking FA Trophy 2nd Round Proper tie away at National League side Southport on Tuesday evening with a hugely dramatic last gasp winner in extra time from Danny Green.
Stones had struggled all match to subdue a battling and stubbornly resilient Wingate side but it took arguably two of their most criticised players to finally turn the tide in their favour. Substitute Danny Green will take the plaudits for scoring a beautifully taken free kick with virtually seconds of the second period of extra time remaining, but it was fellow sub Ricky Wellard that made the difference creating more from midfield that Stones long suffering supporters had witnessed for some considerable time.
Stones made several changes to their starting line with Tom Hamblin back at centre half and Matty Whichelow returning from injury. Nevertheless Hamblin only lasted until half time and whether this was tactical or an injury reoccurrence was unclear. Certainly Hamblin risked a second yellow if he had continued. Loanee Liam Goulding continues to struggle with a trapped nerve and was again unable to appear.
But credit where credit is due and the under pressure Stones battled away and didn’t flinch from their task after the blow of conceding after only 4 minutes play. Wingate danger man Reece Beckles was given the freedom the park to shoot past an exposed Jon North.
Wealdstone where continually unsettled by the home sides commendable high tempo and typically Ryman League style of play, and failed to gain any real foothold in a torrid first half.
Whichelow did go close after 20 minutes play with a low free kick that Shane Gore just about scooped away. Stones best chance came when Scott McGleish unselfishly crossed the ball when clear only for Elliot Benyon’s on target strike to be charged down by Wingate’s stoic defence, but for the most part the half was instantly forgettable.
Welland and Ciaron Brown came on at the re-start with Nick Freeman and Hamblin changed out. Wellard made an immediate impart and looked purposeful and full of running. But still Stones couldn’t make the break through as their possession percentage and pressure gradually increased.
Finally on 65 minutes Benyon was bundled over in the box and a penalty was instantly awarded. The relief was short lived however as the talismanic striker crashed his strike against an upright. Green was then introduced for McGleish.
Things were looking bleak for Stones but they kept upping the tempo and pressure and with a third successive corner they equalised. Green flicked a header over Gore but Benyon got the final touch for 1-1 with ten minutes remaining.
Wingate immediately fought back and could have regained the lead but somehow Stones kept the ball out from Beckles who got clear.
Stones weathered a dodgy 10 minutes and in the second period of extra time had three great chances to put the tie to bed. Wellard’s effort was saved by Gore, Urquhart’s powerful goal bound header was somehow cleared and then Whichelow’s strike bounced up and off the cross bar.
With penalty kicks looming, Stones regrouped for one last attack. Benyon was upended outside the area and up stepped Green who flighted the ball perfectly in the corner, booking a trip to the delights of the North-West in the New Year.
Wealdstone: North, Sheckleford, Urquhart, Hamblin, Oshodi, Godfrey, Freeman, Cox, Benyon, McGleish, Whichelow. Subs used: Wellard, Brown, Green. Not used: Hunt, Koroma.