London non-league match abandoned due to red cards

Wingate & Finchley F.C.
Wingate & Finchley F.C. have an average crowd of just 139 which is made up of mainly away supporters. Photo: http://www.wingatefinchley.com

A non-league match played in north London over the weekend was abandoned due to the number of red cards.

The five sending offs meant Wingate & Finchley did not have enough players to complete their Ryman Premier League relegation clash with Thurrock meaning the game had to be called off, as teams are not allowed less than seven players on the pitch.

The dismissals came either side of a penalty decision that meant visitors Thurrock gained a 1-0 lead.

The club acknowledges that an unusual occurrence happened at yesterday’s game. However, for those who were not present at the game, it was abandoned for five separate red cards at five separate times (where two of the players were dismissed for two bookable offences) in a game where both the opponents and the league (see below) have acknowledged that it was a well-mannered game between two sides battling relegation.The club feel it inappropriate to comment further until such time as the referee and league reports have been issued.

– Wingate & Finchley F.C. club statement

The first half was hard-fought but goalless, and it was seven minutes into the second period when the first red card was shown, to Ahmet Rifat for violent conduct in an off-the ball incident.

Nine minutes later a foul by Osa Obamwonyi earned him a yellow card, and a red one since he had been cautioned early in the game for handling.

The offence also produced a Thurrock penalty, which Stuart Thurgood converted for what would be the only goal of the afternoon.

A wild challenge from behind by Ronayne Marsh-Brown had referee Sam Purkiss reaching for his red card again in the 72nd minute and Jon Christian departed seven minutes later, earning his second yellow for kicking the ball away, an act many spectators thought was an effort to get the match abandoned.

When Scott Shulton received his marching orders for his language to the referee the game had to end.

It was abandoned after 82 minutes when a fifth Wingate player was sent off, leaving them unable to field the legal minimum of seven players.Yet no-one would describe it as a dirty game. It is believed to be the first time in the league’s 108-year history that a game has been abandoned for this reason.The League will make a decision about the result of the game at the earliest opportunity.

– Ryman Football League statement

The match was a crucial one in the fight against relegation from the Ryman Premier League.

On Monday, a meeting of the league's emergency committee decided that the result should stand and the win was given to Thurrock.

An FA inquiry is now likely.

When contacted the FA said they are "aware of the matter" and that their enquiries into the matter are ongoing.

The game was designated as a ‘Kick it Out’ game which saw the anti-racism group hand out promotional material, and all mothers were admitted free to celebrate Mothers’ Day.

Harry Abrahams Stadium.
Wingate & Finchley play at the Harry Abrahams Stadium in Finchley. Credit: http://www.wingatefinchley.com

We are not without fault as a club, however it is also time for people to realise simply how much we battle day to day as all of our achievements are made with the support of a tiny crowd. This is possibly the smallest in the division below let alone the Ryman Premier, yet many of our fellow clubs look up to us for our youth and hospitality template. Everyone around the club should to take on board that our average crowd is 139 made up of mainly away supporters. This does not bear any relevance to yesterday’s occurrence and is not an excuse, however please do take the time to view the video below if you have any interest in what goes on behind the scenes at the club.

– Aron Sharpe, Wingate & Finchley F.C. Chairman