Blues 3 Wingate & Finchley 2 – full report and pics

a7Alfie Mason’s 92nd minute winner sealed a fourth straight win for Jamie Cureton’s Blues, on Tuesday.

Cureton had struck twice in the opening 25 minutes against a Wingate side who took no prisoners, but the visitors pulled a goal back shortly before the break before levelling midway through the second half.

The result lifts Blues up to seventh in the Bostik League table, a point off the play-offs.

In an exciting match Stortford had the better of the first period but Wingate came out after the break and shaded the midfield and it came as no great surprise when former Blue Chace O’Neill equalised just before the midway point of the second half. However, youngster Mason had the last say with his winner in the first minute of added time.a2

With Jake Cass having joined Vanarama National League Braintree Town Jamie Cureton was included in the starting line-up for Stortford. The visitors included former Stortford midfielders Scott Shulton and O’Neill in their starting eleven. Also in their dug-out was goalkeeping coach Gavin King who made over 350 appearances between the sticks in the 1990s.

a4O’Neill  drove a left footed shot just wide of the target and Wingate keeper Shane Gore just cleared from Cureton’s feet in the early proceedings. But it was Stortford, starting with much confidence, who took the lead in the eighth minute. Jack Thomas swept the ball out to the left for Alfie Mason to deliver a cross towards the six yard box.

Ruel Sotiriou’s header looked bound for the net but Gore stuck out his left hand to keep the ball out but Cureton, with a diving header found the back of the net.

Four minutes later skipper Sam Robbins got across to perform a great block to stop a shot from Reece Beckles-Richards. Then Stortford suffered a blow as Sotiriou eventually hobbled away from the action after being on the wrong end of a heavy tackle over on the touch-line by visiting defender Samir Bihmoutine. The on-loan player was replaced by Dan Humphreys on his Blues debut.

Thomas had a 15 yarder pile-driver parried away by Gore but the Stortford lead was doubled in the 24th minute. In an attack on the left Chris Gregan played the ball up to Cureton who flicked it forward to Mason. The young striker was halted by a heavy challenge from Wingate skipper Sean Cronin on the edge of the box but Cureton was quickly on to the ball to smash it low past Gore. a2

Two minutes later the visitors broke on the right and Calum Kitscha had to make a smart save to keep out an angled shot from Beckles-Richards.

Stortford, though, continued to look sharp and have the edge on proceedings with Johnville Renee going close in the 43rd minute. However, a minute later there was a debateable decision when Isaac Nkosi was harshly judged to have fouled Lewis Putman out on the right flank and when Putman hammered the free-kick into the box Marc Weatherstone headed into the far corner.

Shortly afterwards a shot from Becles-Richards was deflected away for a corner.

Early on after the restart Kitscha held another effort from dangerman Beckles-Richards and then in the 52nd minute when Renee won a 50-50 challenge Jordan Wescott was released on the right and his cross was just missed by Cureton sliding in at the far upright.

The visitors looked stronger in the midfield and they levelled the scores in the 66th minute. Bihmoutine crossed from the left to just inside the box and O’Neill’s s half volley beat Kitscha bouncing high into the net via the keeperâ’s right hand,

Stortford fought back and an angled shot from Mason was deflected on to the roof of the net whilst a Ryan Charles drive was deflected for a corner. A Thomas header in the 77th minute following a Wescott free-kick was narrowly wide and then, with the contest entering its final stages Shulton went close with an effort from outside the box. In the 87th minute a Putman long throw on the left resulted in Kitscha seeing substitute Marc Charles-Smith’s near post header creep over the top of the bar.

Stortford threw everything at it in the closing minutes. From a Mason corner, Charles collected the ball from the far side and returned it to the far post where substitute Lewis Dark, who had earlier replaced Jamie Cureton, nearly converted but the ball ran to Johnville Renee who hit the post. That action was in the 90th minute and in the first minute of added time the Blues clinched the winner. A very long throw on the right from Chris Gregan reached the furthest man away, Mason, and his header curved over Gore and under the bar for the winner.

STORTFORD: Calum Kitscha; Jordan Wescott; Chris Gregan; Jack Thomas; Sam Robbins; Isaac Nkosi; Ryan Charles; Johnville Renee; Jamie Cureton (Lewis Dark 70); Ruel Sotiriou (Dan Humphreys 21)); Alfie Mason.

Unused substitutes: Toib Adeyemi, Lewis Byrne-Hewitt and Freddie Oakman.

WINGATE & FINCHLEY: Shane Gore; Luke Ifil; Samir Bihmoutine (Loic Hernandez 80); Marc Weatherstone; Sean Cronin; Scott Shulton; Lewis Putman; Tommy Tejan-Sie; Rob Laney; Chace O’Neill (Marc Charles-Smith 74); Reece Beckles-Richards (Brandon McKenna 90).

Unused substitutes: Olarinde Williams and Tim Monsheju.

Referee: Stephen Bates   Attendance: 236