Narrow Defeat Consigns Blues To The Drop
A gallant Blues performance was not enough to salvage their League status writes The Mariner
Blues led by a man of the match performance from manager Jamie Stuart came off second best but they pushed their hosts all the way in this closely fought encounter and with a more clinical approach in front of goal could have come away with at least a share of the points.It was a much improved performance compared to previous weeks but ultimately Wingate took their chance in front of goal and it proved decisive to the outcome.
On an excellent playing surface it was Joe Payne who created the first opportunity of the half in the 6th minute when he sent in a teasing lob that evaded Gore in the home goal just shaving the crossbar.Kieron Bishop then did well to win a free kick on the edge of the home box with the ball finding Nathan Campbell who saw Gore gather easily.
It was a positive start by Blues but it wasn't long before Wingate began to find their rhythm and started to ask questions of the Blues rearguard,Amadou Tangara made the first of many saves when he denied Laney turning the ball behind for a corner which saw a header from ex Blue Sean Cronin sail just over.
The home side were just about shading proceedings by the half hour mark forcing a number of corners but the Blues defence was holding firm with Stuart prominent winning several arial duels in a display that defied his years .Blues though lacked nothing in character and stuck to their task creating their own openings.Payne could have put Blues one up when he unleashed an audacious shot from the edge of the box which was only half cleared finding the lurking Joao Carlos who tried his luck but Gore saved comfortably.
Chances were coming at either end by now, ex Blue Luke Ifill drove the ball just wide of the upright and then scorned another opportunity screwing his effort wide.The home side did eventually made the breakthrough in the 37th minute,a corner was played into the near post where Rifat was quickest to react steering his glancing header past Tangara.It was a disappointing goal to concede as up to that point Blues looked capable of repelling anything the home side threw at them.
The second half saw Blues not only looking to get back into the game and secure the points but also to save their Ryman Premier status Wingate were also striving for a play off berth so it made for an exciting 45 minutes.Blues made a lively start taking the game to the opposition,Campbell had a half chance following a corner but saw his effort drift wide.
With so much at stake for both teams play took on a more competive edge with one or two feisty challenges,Stuart and Laney in particular were asking and giving no quarter and on one occasion the referee had to step in and calm things down between the two.
Blues had a lucky let off when Tangara spilled sub Figueira drive with the rebound slammed home only to be ruled out for offside Bishop then had an opportunity following a corner but blasted over,not to be outdone Wingate came close from a corner when the unmarked Cronin nodded over.
It was end to end stuff by now as both sides looked for that vital goal,Payne who had been unlucky in the first half was making some intelligent overlapping runs,he came close again with a driving run forward and tested Gore steering the ball across the keeper who did well to turn the ball behind. Carlos was next when he did well to win the ball deep in the visitors half turning his opponent but unfortunately his cross lacked power and was cleared with ease.Shortly after a flowing move saw Ryan Mahal deliver a low cross forcing an error from Cronin slicing the ball into the grateful arms of Gore.
To their credit Blues were creating openings but just lacked that cutting edge where it mattered in front of goal.Wingate in contrast always looked dangerous and once again Tangara did well to turn over a 25 yard drive from Abrahams.He was again on hand to make a block after Stuart had only half cleared a Tejan-Sie drive.
As the minutes ticked down try as they might Blues just could not make that vital breakthrough and claim at least a point and so with the final whistle it brought an end to the game and Blues stay in the Ryman Premier League.
No one could argue with the effort put in by every player but in the end it was just not enough and as has happened so many times this season a defensive lapse cost them dearly . Manager Stuart led by example throughout and proved that despite the years he has lost none of his competitive edge,one thing is for sure the youngsters in the Blues squad could not have had a better master. Lets hope they have learnt well and if staying with the squad they will have had a steep learning curve that should serve them well next season .
Next up is a trip to old rivals Harlow Town on their 3G playing surface.