Wingate & Finchley left the scenic Hampton & Richmond Borough ground with a creditable 3-3 draw on Saturday, in a game that could have swung either way between two very ambitious sides.
The narrative ended up revolving around striker Spencer Belotti who scored twice on his Blues debut, having also netted for Northwood against the same opposition during the week.
It was Wingate who made the early running, and after Scott Shulton had tested keeper Rodney Chiweshe with a shot from a tight angle in the opening stages, the opening goal arrived in the 16th minute when Belotti showed excellent composure. A chipped through ball was flicked on by Daniel Brown perfectly into his path and with an early strike, he rifled the ball past the stranded keeper.
Belotti nearly doubled his lead as struck the underside of the bar on the turn from eight yards, and before the ball was fully cleared a Marc Weatherstone header was cleared from the line.
Weatherstone went close again moments later when a shot was heading towards the top right corner but the effort was tipped over the bar by a superb diving save from Chiweshe.
However, for all of this domination, Hampton levelled the game against the run of play. Ryan Moss scored a simple tap-in after a break down the right wing resulted in a low cross by Joe Turner.
Hampton began to turn the screw from here and dominate the midfield possession. The Wingate defensive line held firm though until half-time.
Charlie Moone went close from a free kick at the start of the second half but his shot was flicked over the bar by Bobby Smith.
Five minutes after the break Moone scored following a counter attack down the left side with a good chipped finish over the diving Smith. This lead only lasted two minutes though as Wingate immediately hit back.
A lofted through ball went through to the goalkeeper, but Belotti put him under pressure and forced a poor punch. It fell to Daniel Brown 25 yards out who lobbed it accurately into the open goal.
Hampton were again dangerous countering down the flanks. A break down the left wing saw a shot from out wide blocked by Smith, and as the ball careered towards goal Ahmet Rifat followed up to volley it away.
The match ebbed and flowed as both teams had short periods of pressure.
A John Christian cross for Wingate fell to Anthony Thomas at the far post but he was charged down well by the keeper.
The best goal of the game put Hampton back in the lead as Moone scored a superb goal from the left edge of the area. The shot curled high and accurately into the top right corner leaving Smith with no chance.
With ten minutes remaining the game was brought level again.
After good work by substitute Hector Mackie on the right touchline, he crossed the ball to the edge of the area. An awful defensive back-header lobbed Hampton's keeper, and Belotti reacted first to follow the ball up and ensure the equaliser.
Ahmet Rifat was sent off in the closing stages after being shown a second soft yellow card.
Wingate & Finchley: Smith, Nielsen, Marsh-Brown, Weatherstone, Rifat, Shulton (Scarlett 70), Hutchinson (McGonigle 80), Christian, Brown, Spencer, Belotti, Thomas (Mackie 70). Not used: Osa Obamwonyi and Gondwe.