Walthamstow suffered a narrow loss to Isthmian League Premier Division side Wingate & Finchley in their third pre-season friendly on Tuesday evening. Goals from Jon Clements and Michael Toner were not enough as a late goal secured a win for the hosts.
Right from the off, Stow were forced onto the back foot. Wingate tried to bring the ball forward in the opening minutes but could not make the most of it. The hosts were forced to take long-range shots as they struggled to find gaps in the Walthamstow back-line. A shot from the edge of the box from Wingate’s 7 was saved comfortably by Charlie Mann before Mann was forced into a number of good saves.
Despite being on the back foot, it was Walthamstow who struck first. George Lutaaya did well to intercept a loose ball, managing to slide it to Jon Clements in the process, with the Stow striker finishing it off with a nice finish past the keeper. Wingate came close a few minutes later but the ball was rebounded off the post but it was Walthamstow who began to dominate the ball. Lutaaya had a shot from distance go just wide of the target before Sam Jeremiah managed to break through the Wingate defence but he sent his shot straight into the side-netting. Michael Toner did well to intercept right before half-time but his shot was fired over before a low cross from Jeremiah just eluded the presence of Clements.
The first real action of the second half saw Walthamstow double their lead. A testing free-kick from David Cowley was spilled by the Wingate keeper, allowing Michael Toner to smash the ball in from close range. Minutes later, Stow came close again when David Cowley curled a shot just wide from the edge of the box.
Wingate & Finchley managed to pull a goal back, less than 10 minutes after Stow’s second when their number 9 drilled a ball into the ground, taking a big deflection and making it difficult for Mann. The goal sparked a turn in the game, with Wingate starting to build the pressure again. A point-blank range shot was blocked on the line before a flick over Mann was saved well by the Stow keeper. Despite the good defending, Wingate levelled the score in the 65th minute. A bullet header from the hosts’ number 12 rocketed past Mann, giving the Stow keeper no chance of saving it.
With the scores level, Stow continued to push in the latter stages. A ball found it’s way through to Emiel Aiken in the box but the shot was blasted over before Jon Clements forced a good save to deny Stow a third. Wingate also tried to bring the ball forward but neither side was able to capitalise on their chances. David Cowley had another couple of opportunities as the game approached its end but a shot from an angle was saved well before a lobbing shot was fired over. With two minutes left to play, a slip at the back gave Wingate’s number 9 clear space to break. After an initial save from Charlie Mann, the forward finished with a simple tap-in to give the hosts the win.