After Wednesday night’s impressive Velocity Trophy win by the youngsters – and one or two others ! – at Kingstonian, it was back to a more familiar looking line-up for a return to the quest for league points in the Premier Division title race.
Suspension ruled Danny Barker ineligible for the penultimate game, while Reece Myles-Meekums and Luca Cocoracchio also sat this one out. Captain Aarran Racine returned from an illness-related absence and Luke Robinson took his spot on the subs bench. Dajon Golding and Marvin Armstrong, who both came on at half-time in last Saturday’s draw at Corinthian Casuals, kept their places.
Despite dominating this match, it was the visitors who threatened first when a free-kick found Dylan Kearney on his own, on the edge of the six yard box, where he fizzed the ball across the face of goal, all the way out for a far side throw-in.
Reds responded through Racine, who climbed highest to meet Jasper Pattenden’s right-sided corner but couldn’t keep his header down.
Pearce then experienced his first sight of goal, after taking down a long pass from that man Pattenden again, before finally forcing a low save out of Ben Goode to win a flag-kick.
Although that set-piece failed to produce the opening strike of the afternoon, our top-scorer soon turned provider with an outlandish piece of skill; backheeling Armsrong’s short forward pass, to bamboozle both Alkeo Bani and Lewis Hobbs, for Callum Kealy to race into the penalty area and slot past Goode, little more than fifteen minutes in.
Armstrong should have made it two less than sixty seconds later, when Golding got down the right to present Marvin with a present that remained wrapped, as he skewed horribly wide from a great position in the six yard area.
The same misfortune befell the usually reliable Pearce shortly afterwards, following a Pattenden/Jesse Starkey corner routine honed on the training ground.
Guest goalie Goode continued to live up to his name by tipping over a Kealy header on the edge of the penalty area, as the Aussie forward nearly capitalized on a half-cleared Pattenden corner.
Approaching the half-hour mark, Starkey made another set-piece originating from in front of the servery count this time, thanks to Pearce sweeping home Racine’s knock down.
Clearly in the ascendancy, a rampant home team refused to let their North London-based opponents off the hook; Kealy linking up well with Pearce again but reversing roles to locate his teammate in the danger zone. Goode taking a comfortable catch.
Golding then took up the goalscoring challenge, only to hit the side netting after Ollie had drifted across the top of the eighteen yard box to find him on the right.
No further changes to the scoreboard would occur before the break, although not for the want of trying, as Starkey’s threaded through ball led to Kealy suffering a deflected-above-and-behind.
Early into the second period, Wingate almost handed their hosts a third on a plate, when a risky no-look pass back to his ‘keeper, by half-time substitute Jess Armoo left Kealy free to go one-on-one with Goode but fail to take advantage.
Pattenden came close to creating an exact replica of his wonder goal against Hornchutch, only to watch his curler take a touch off another interval change, in the form of Antonis Vasiliou and fly inches the wrong side of the far upright, resulting in a flag-kick instead.
However, he made his next opportunity count, albeit in somewhat comical circumstances.
An inch-perfect delivery via the outside of Golding’s right boot caused pandemonium in the heart of the eighteen yard box. Armoo’s falling backheel-style flick leaving him and Pearce on the deck before eventually bobbling along to Pattenden, who hit Luke Ifil with his initial attempt, sending Goode into a spin, only to get a second bite at the cherry and knock it behind the confused custodian at the rear upright to make it three-nil.
The Red Men’s fourth of the contest emanated from the same source, in the same manner, with the referee pointing to the spot, after Dajon had brought down Harrison Male’s huge kick downfield and seen his cross loop up off the unfortunate Sam Hatton. Goode’s floundering efforts at palming away the danger merely concluded with the yellow’s number one clattering into Kealy. Pearce doing his duty from twelve yards; as he went left and Goode went right.
A shell-shocked traveling team had offered little in reply; summed up when they won a free-kick in a central position, some way out, that Kavan Cotter rather ambitiously fired towards the target. Though he simply succeeded in drilling a weak shot safely into the hands of Male.
Seeking to boost their goal difference even further, there was no let up from a rampant home side and the returning Racine soon made it five; rising highest to meet a Starkey free-kick at the back stick after Hatton had blocked off Golding in the first place, who chalked up another assist in the process.
Six of the best wasn’t far away either, thanks to James Beresford drawing a fine one-handed save out of Goode However, the goalie’s efforts sadly proved to be in vain as he unintentionally parried straight to Pearce. The Division’s leading marksman not needing a second invitation to stroke home from a tight angle and notch a hat-trick of hat-tricks in an increasingly productive campaign.
A rare attack in response made Male get down low to hold a low Theo Ofori drive, with the recently-introduced replacement coming closest to grabbing a consolation, following an Isaac Tshipamba-Mulowayi tee-up.
One last hurrah almost saw Golding rewarded for more sterling work, after Goode had denied Starkey from twenty yards but the striker would have to settle for a pair of goal involvements; just being unable to control the loose ball and the chance went begging.