Lathrope injury overshadows Cards' improved performance
7:44am, Sun 25th Feb 2018
Woking 0 Boreham Wood 0
Vanarama National League
24 February 2018
In a game overshadowed by a serious injury suffered by Woking's new midfielder Damon Lathrope midway through the second half, the Cards grabbed a valuable point against a Boreham Wood side which had arrived at Kingfield in great form, especially away from home. Anthony Limbrick's side were fortunate to go in on level terms at half-time after a mediocre first forty-five minutes but were much more threatening after the interval and by the end looked the side most likely to achieve a breakthrough.
On a sunny but very cold afternoon the Woking manager sprang a surprise by switching to a 4-3-3 formation. Following the disappointing midweek display at Ebbsfleet United he also brought in Lathrope, Charlie Carter, Louie Theophanous, making his home debut, and Anthony Cook, who had been unavailable against his parent club. Moving to the bench were Richard Orlu, Jason Banton, Chez Isaac and Jonny Edwards. The visitors' line-up included former Woking favourites Keiran Murtagh, Mark Ricketts and Bruno Andrade, while former loanee Joe Quigley was on the bench.
Boreham Wood were quickly into their stride, setting the pattern for the remainder of the first half, looking confident, with good movement and generally winning the second ball. Woking struggled to find any attacking momentum, not managing a shot on goal till the 35th minute, and seemingly unable to get the ball down and thread a few passes together. The front three of Cook and Grego-Cox on the flanks, and Theophanous in the middle, were starved of any decent service, having to feed off scraps as the ball was cleared hurriedly from defence or punted forward rather aimlessly.
As early as the 3rd minute the quick-footed Andrade tested Nathan Baxter with a snap shot, which the Woking keeper did well to fingertip over for a corner. Angelo Balanta was next to try his luck after Lathrope - who went on to look increasingly influential in midfield till his dreadful injury - had lost the ball in a dangerous area. Next, it was Andrade again, left free and trying an ingenious shot with the outside of his boot which went narrowly wide. Confusion in the home defence then allowed Balanta to slip away down the right before his dangerous cross was cleared.
The quarter of an hour mark brought the first signs of some attacking momentum from the Cards as they forced two corners in succession, though with no profit. The game then seemed to get bogged down, with Woking unable to exert any attacking influence, while the visitors failed to create any worthwhile chances.
On the half hour, Cook made an enterprising run into the opposing penalty area but could not keep control of the ball. Five minutes later the Cards produced their first attacking move of genuine quality as Joey Jones's crossfield ball was expertly headed on by Nathan Ralph into Cook's path, who found the way opening up in front of him. However, his shot was comfortably saved by the Wood keeper, Grant Smith.
But it was the visitors who had the best chance of the half as the interval approached. A chip to the far post reached defender Alex Davey a few yards out but his snatched effort went narrowly wide.
The Cards could consider themselves somewhat fortunate to go in at half-time on equal terms after 45 minutes in which they had looked distinctly second best all over the park and had rarely offered any threat.
Half-time: Woking 0 Boreham Wood 0
The start of the second half saw Jonny Edwards replace Grego-Cox, who had probably not fully recovered from the knock which had seen him withdrawn from play during the week. Given the sort of service being provided to the front three, the more physical qualities provided by Edwards may have helped the Cards produce a greater attacking threat as the game progressed.
This wasn't apparent, however, from the opening exchanges, which saw Boreham Wood continue to make most of the running. Substitute Michael Folivi, who had replaced the injured Murtagh, had a shot blocked and then Andrade, seizing on a knock-down, fired narrowly wide.
But the Cards suddenly began to make some attacking progress, finding more space down the flanks. Cook wormed his way into the area before his cross was intercepted. And then Edwards made space down the right, with Theophanous causing anxiety in the Wood defence as they struggled to clear the ball. He also drew the keeper out of his goal but was unable to thread the ball back to a team mate for a shot on target.
Boreham Wood responded with a dangerous counter-attack - well defended by the increasingly dominant Jones and Josh Staunton - before Woking attacked again, first through Kane Ferdinand and then with a move which came agonisingly close to producing the opening goal. Matt Young poked a pass through to Cook, whose fine cross produced an excellent header from Theophanous and an outstanding save from Grant, who twisted to tip the ball over the bar. More home pressure followed as Edwards got in a strike which Smith held.
In the 63rd minute Lathrope and Danny Woodards both went in hard for a 50-50 ball. It was immediately apparent that Lathrope had suffered what looked like a broken leg, with frantic signals from his team mates for medical assistance. Exemplary teamwork, from the staff of both clubs, followed as the Woking midfielder was treated on the pitch for some 25 minutes before being stretchered off by the paramedics who had been called to the ground.
When the game eventually resumed after a five-minute warm-up period, with Chez Isaac on for Lathrope and Quigley replacing Morgan Ferrier for the visitors, it appeared that the long break in play had not fundamentally altered the pattern of the game. If anything, the fresh legs and more attacking instincts of Isaac perhaps intensified Woking's forward momentum. Several corners and driven crosses ensued, while Young was not far off with an ambitious effort from distance. Theophanous's low cross from the right was only cleared with difficulty by Smith, with Ferdinand's follow-up brushing the roof of the net.
Of course, it was not simply one-way traffic. Jones made a crucial intervention as he headed away a searching cross, and Baxter dealt with another cross at the second attempt. He also did well, a few minutes later, to cling on tightly to a low shot from Andrade.
As the game moved into the final ten minutes, Woking looked the likelier side to break the deadlock, the visitors perhaps content to settle for a point by that stage. Carter, always a threat in the air, headed wide from a Ralph cross before Isaac wasted a great chance as he blasted over after cleverly allowing Edwards's pass to run past him.
In the meantime Ferdinand, who seemed to don Lathrope's forceful defensive mantle after the latter had departed, had thwarted a Wood attack with three successive clearances.
On the stroke of full time Isaac whipped in a fine, low cross. Carter, with his back to goal, tried desperately to find an angle for a shot but the Wood defence held firm. Finally, another Isaac cross saw Jones flash a header over the bar as the Cards finished the match on the front foot.
This was very much a game of two halves as far as Woking were concerned. In spite of the new formation, the first half saw the Cards very much on the back foot, creating little and failing to get any sort of passing game going. But after the break they seemed to be able to turn the game round to a considerable extent, getting the ball down more, finding more space down the flanks and putting the Wood defence under some pressure, while at the back Jones and Staunton in particular got to grips better with Andrade and his fellow attackers.
All in all, this was probably a point gained rather than two points lost against a very talented side, although the match was inevitably overshadowed by the very unfortunate injury suffered by Damon Lathrope.
The Cards travel to Maidenhead United next Saturday and can be expect to be tested strongly by Alan Devonshire's outfit.
Woking: Nathan Baxter, Matt Young, Josh Staunton, Joey Jones, Nathan Ralph, Damon Lathrope (Chez Isaac 65), Kane Ferdinand, Charlie Carter, Louie Theophanous, Reece Grego-Cox (Jonny Edwards 45), Anthony Cook
Unused subs: Jason Banton, Richard Orlu, Sam Mason
Boreham Wood: Grant Smith, Danny Woodards, Mark Ricketts, David Stephens, Ricky Shakes, Keiran Murtagh (Michael Folivi 42), Bruno Andrade, Jamie Turley, Angelo Balanta, Alex Davey, Morgan Ferrier (Joe Quigley 65)
Unused subs: Ollie Harfield, Fred Burbidge, Thomas Sorba
Sponsor's (Consilium Financial Planning) MOTM: Damon Lathrop (pictured)