WINGATE AND FINCHLEY lost further ground in the race for the Ryman Premier Division play-offs as they were beaten 1-0 at title-chasing Needham Market on Saturday.
The visitors had seen their long unbeaten run come to an end in emphatic fashion with a crushing 5-1 defeat at the hands of Enfield Town in their previous league match, and this latest setback has left them lying in tenth place – seven points adrift of the play-offs.
Barely five minutes had been played when Needham were awarded a penalty after Reece Dobson was fouled by keeper Shane Gore in the box, but Gore atoned for his error by making a terrific save from Kemal Izzet’s spot kick.
Wingate soon grew into the match though and Tanasheh Abrahams had a shot palmed away by home keeper Daniel Gay before Spencer McCall poked the ball wide following good work by Reece Beckles-Richards.
Rob Laney, Beckles-Richards and McCall had further opportunities for the visitors prior to the interval but were unable to take any of them as the first half finished goalless.
Chances were more at a premium in the second period, but Laney did fire wide for Wingate before Luke Ingram failed to find the target at the other end after racing clear.
Claudiu Vilcu twice went close for Wingate as he saw a header clear the bar before having a free-kick tipped over by Gay, but it was Needham who made the decisive breakthrough with 12 minutes remaining – Billy Clark collecting Ingram’s pass and firing into the net with the help of a deflection.
The visitors attempted to get back in the match in the closing stages, but Needham held firm to seal a win which boosted their hopes of being crowned champions.