Article by Cameron Smith
The plucky and well-organised Wingate & Finchley replied to Dave Hodges’ opener with three, hard-hitting blows to Corinthian-Casuals’ Buildbase FA Trophy campaign as James Bracken’s side exited the cup in the 2nd Qualifying Round on a soggy afternoon in Tolworth.
Before proceedings began, the referee gathered players to the centre spot for a minute’s silence, led by a moving rendering of The Last Post, as Corinthian-Casuals and Wingate & Finchley remembered those who made the ultimate sacrifice in war and conflict.
It was a goalless opening half-an-hour that was riddled with half-chances and near misses for both teams; the hosts were superior in creating opportunities and retaining possession. Danny Cunningham had a fiery effort saved by Blues keeper Shane Gore following a terrific build-up involving Gabriel Odunaike and Max Oldham. It was a Casuals side with plenty of pace and attacking prowess as speedy left-back Dave Hodges returned after a lengthy absence, Malachi Robinson took his place on the opposite flank, and starts for Mu Maan and Kevant Serbony added strength and solidity to the midfield. In fact, Mu Maan had already made an impression on the game early on, but it was a negative one. Wingate no.6 Ahmed Rifat had exchanged words with the Casuals no.7 before a corner, and the clash had earned the duo a yellow card each in the fifth minute. The away side’s midfielder attempted to provoke Maan even more, but the Casuals player ignored him and continued with the game.
So in the 31st minute, when Dave Hodges netted to open the scoring, it was very satisfying for the Casuals contingent. The no.3 had found space in the penalty area; after overpowering Wingate’s unfortunate left-back, Hodges had the chance to slip the ball under the committed keeper. It was an acute angle, but Super Dave had no troubles in guiding the ball into the net as Corinthians took the lead!
Ten minutes later, Casuals found themselves on the back foot- a free-kick from just outside the area was taken by Ben Pattie… and scored. The effort curled expertly into the top corner as the scores were levelled. Minutes after the equaliser, another free-kick in a similar position earned Serbony a yellow card, but Pattie was denied this time by a fantastic full-stretch save from Danny Bracken.
It was 1-1 at half-time as the supporters swapped ends, and the players swapped goals. James Bracken would be congratulating his players for scoring and giving a higher opposition some competition, but also telling them to concentrate and keep strong at the back. As soon as the referee started the second half, Wingate looked the more organised. It took nearly twenty minutes, but Rowland’s eleven did take the lead for the first time in the match via Rob Laney, who converted after a set-piece scramble with a bullet header. The travelling Wingate supporters were in jubilance at their improved performance in the second half as Casuals were behind!
From an agonising Mu Maan one-on-one miss, to a Coskun Ekim longshot, Corinth were unfortunate not to grab the next goal of the game. Wingate took advantage of Casuals’ lack of clinical attacking play when ex-Woking youngster Reece Beckles-Richards volleyed the ball into the back of the net in the 79th minute, to clinch the game for the visitors.