Wingate & Finchley 3, Lowestoft Town 2: Defeat heaps final day pressure on Lowestoft
Lowestoft Town will have no opportunity to take their foot off the pedal in their last Ryman League Premier Division game after losing at Wingate & Finchley.
The Trawlerboys travelled to London hoping for the three points which would assure them of second place – and with it the reassurance of being certain of home advantage in both the play-off semi-finals and, if they get there, the final.
Instead their final 'regular season' outing, against Hendon at Crown Meadow, has turned into a must win fixture with Wealdstone – who finish at home to Canvey Island – ready to pip them at the post if they slip up.
In the worst case scenario the Trawlerboys could even slip to fourth, meaning they could be away in both semi-finals and final, if they lost and both Wealdstone and Concord Rangers, who are at home to Leiston, won.
Wingate & Finchley were hardly the ideal opponents for a Lowestoft team showing the strain of playing their fifth game in ten days.
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The home side needed a win as much as Lowestoft, in order to pull themselves clear of relegation and were clearly fired up.
Lowestoft's cause was not helped, however, by losing both of their centre-backs. Sam Gaughran hobbled off after taking a knock as early as the fourth minute – he was replaced by Erkan Okay.
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Then Curtley Williams was taken ill at half-time, causing Town to send him off to hospital as a precaution.
Town did, however, take a first half lead with a left foot shot from Joe Benjamin, and there was a touch of controversy in Wingate's 28th minute equaliser with the visitors convinced home centre-half Ryan Scott should have been penalised for a push as he headed in from a corner.
Wingate went in front through Hector Mackie early in the second half only for Hakim Araba to pull Lowestoft level with a stunning 30-yarder in the 65th minute. The winner was a looping header from Ahmet Riset nine minutes later.
One issue settled was that East Thurrock made sure of the fourth play-off place with a 1-0 win over Hastings.