WINGATE AND FINCHLEY scored twice in the last five minutes to get their Ryman Premier Division play-off push back on track with a dramatic 3-2 victory at home to Folkestone Invicta on Tuesday night.
Successive defeats had seen Wingate lose ground in the race for a top-five finish, but this last-gasp triumph saw them climb back up to sixth – albeit four points adrift of fifth-placed Leiston having played three games more.
There was little sign of the drama to follow during a goalless first half, but Steve Wales gave the hosts the lead in the early stages of the second period.
However, Folkestone came storming back and Ian Draycott scored twice to put them ahead with little more than ten minutes remaining.
Wingate refused to lie down though and Reece Beckles-Richards grabbed an equaliser on 85 minutes before Rob Laney struck at the death to ensure that they secured maximum points.
The hosts enjoyed the better of the first half, but were frustrated by a terrific performance from Folkestone keeper Tim Roberts, who kept them at bay with a string of excellent saves.
At the other end, home keeper Shane Gore was relatively untroubled until he superbly tipped over a Jordan Wright effort just before the interval.
But the game really sprang to life in the second half and Wingate broke the deadlock on 53 minutes when Wales touched home a Ben Pattie cross.
The hosts enjoyed a good spell after this but were unable to add a second – with Ahmet Rifat having a header cleared off the line – and were pegged back when Draycott found the net with a shot on the turn in the 69th minute.
Worse was to follow for Wingate ten minutes later when Wright burst forward down the right and crossed for Draycott to slide the ball home and give the visitors the lead.
Only a stunning block from Sean Cronin prevented Draycott from completing a hat-trick, and this proved to be a pivotal moment in the match as Beckles-Richards turned in Wales’ corner soon after to get Wingate back on level terms.
The momentum was now with the hosts and they piled on the pressure in the closing stages – eventually getting their reward when Tommy Tejan-Sie cut the ball back for Laney to score with a shot which crept under the keeper and into the net.
Wingate and Finchley host table-topping Bognor Regis Town on Saturday (3pm), before visiting Burgess Hill Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).