Frustrating homecoming stalemate for Anthony Limbrick
12:00am, Sat 22nd Jul 2017
Wingate & Finchley 1 Woking 1
22nd July 2017
Anthony Limbrick seemed to be set for a successful homecoming to the club he debuted at as both a player and coach; the Cards dominated most of the first half at The Maurice Rebak Stadium, and Inih Effiong fired them in front on 19 minutes. But it was a former Card Reece Beckles-Richards who ruined the new boss's return to Wingate & Finchley with a 79th-minute equaliser.
Kane Ferdinand, Jason Banton, and Josh Staunton were missing from the teamsheet this week, and trialists Matt Young (at right back), Joe N'Guessan (winger), and James Demetriou (no. 10) joined academy product Declan Appau (midfield) in forming the starting 11, around the currently signed squad members. Fabio Saraiva, Bobson Bawling, and Charlie Carter, started on the bench. Woking dominated most of the first half despite a sustained downpour, though the Isthmian Premier side's pitch held up well throughout the match. The home side posed a threat through Spencer McCall in midfield, who demonstrated some nice touches, Marc Charles-Smith leading the line, with Beckles-Richards proving to be a thorn in the side for both halves.
Both sides sought openings early in the game, McCall shooting from the edge of the area for the Blues and going close, putting the home team on the front foot. The Cards responded when Inih Effiong found time in the box to steady himself and drill at goal from about 10 yards, but Shane Gore got behind it well.
Effiong got his next chance just minutes later, and this time made no mistake in putting the visitors in front. Declan Appau found a neat ball through to the big man, and after Sean Cronin appeared to misjudge a chance to intercept, Inih was left with plenty of time to slot home, sending Gore the wrong way in the process.
The rain poured harder before easing at the end of the first half, and Wingate & Finchley found hope of an equaliser through Beckles-Richards, who seemed intent on making a statement against the club where he spent two seasons between 2013-2015. The forward delivered dangerous crosses from both wings, but home side's strike force couldn't aptly get on the end of any of his exploits.
Just after the half hour trialist Demetriou got his head up and tucked a very tidy through ball to Joe Ward, who easily peeled off the full back on the break. He dribbled direct at goal, but couldn't find a way around Cronin, the ball cleared quickly before he could get a good second bite at it.
Woking continued to spring past the Finchley backline after this, the offside trap broken by Joe N'Guessan, but when the ball fell to Effiong in the area, this time he was off the mark.
Half-time Wingate & Finchley 0 Woking 1
At the break Woking sent on Bobson Bawling and Fabio Saraiva, in addition to trialists Ben Sampayo (right back) and Jake Eales (centre-half). They sacrificed Nathan Ralph, Chez Isaac, Joe Ward, and goalscorer Effiong. Joey Jones moved into midfield for the second half.
The first action of the half came through Bawling down the left hand side, fed neatly by Jones after a fine one-two with the other signed sub Saraiva. Bobson managed to work his way into the area and clipped it back to Fabio, but he couldn't quite bring it under, firing over.
The Blues responded through Beckles-Richards who showed neat control, and drew a solid near-post stop from Cards keeper Nathan Baxter, fizzing an angled shot from about 20 yards.
On the hour, Woking introduced Charlie Carter and academy product Ivan Nsimbi, replacing the solid Declan Appau, and Joe N'Guessan. Five minutes later trialist Luke Sheldrick also replaced Nathan Baxter in goal.
Bawling continued to make his impression on the game, with a long range effort which Gore could only parry, before he escaped again down the left thanks to a skillful ball from Saraiva. Demetriou, who had a tidy game, couldn't apply the finish to Bobson's square pass, skying a real opportunity to put the result beyond doubt.
Wingate & Finchley smelled blood in the rainwater, and Beckles-Richards rewarded the home side with a share of the spoils in the 80th minute. His smashed cross-shot from a tight angle spilled through keeper Sheldrick's hands, and into the far corner.
And the 22-year-old, who returned 13 goals from his 42 appearances last campaign for the Blues, wasn't stopping there. Determined to try to put one over on his former club, with five minutes remaining he got away again down the right, and squared a low cross into the six yard box, which nobody could quite get on the end of.
Wingate & Finchley earned themselves a good draw against a Woking team still taking shape. That said, each of re-signed squad members seems keen to play their way into starting contention, and had decent run-outs. Richard Orlu looks to be a reliable and influential option at the heart of the defence, and Nathan Baxter, despite struggling a couple of times aerially during a series of corners in the second half, seems to defy his years between the sticks. Joe Ward stands out as a real prospect, and Inih Effiong managed to get on the score sheet once again. There will still be plenty of eyes on the final two friendlies, though, for emerging signs of a solid starting 11 for the first game at home to Gateshead on August 5th.
Wingate and Finchley: Shane Gore, Luke Ifil, Ola Williams (DeReece Vanderhyde 72), Joe Kizzi (Wes Parker 72), Sean Cronin, Ahmet Rifat (Sam Newson 65), Rob Laney, Spencer McCall (Joe Sharpe 60), Marc Charles-Smith (Afolabi Obafemi 65), Tommy Tejan-Sie (Kunlie Otudeko 45), Reece Beckles-Richards
Unused Subs: Joe Mangan
Woking: Nathan Baxter (Luke Sheldrick 65), Matt Young, Nathan Ralph (Ben Sampayo 45), Chez Isaac (Jake Eales 45), Joey Jones, Richard Orlu, Joe N'Guessan (Ivan Nsimbi 59), Declan Appau (Charlie Carter 59), Inih Effiong (Fabio Saraiva 45), James Demetriou, Joe Ward (Bobson Bawling 45)
Goals: Inih Effiong 19
Unused Subs: None
My MotM: Richard Orlu for his reliable aerial and positional abilities at the back, seeming to lead by example as the organisational presence at centre half which the team sorely lacked last season.