Fleeting glimpses of promise as Cards dominate opening PSF
12:00am, Sat 30th Jun 2018
Fleet Town 0 Woking 3
Saturday 30th June 2018
You could have been forgiven for thinking that the blistering heat and dry pitches of a late June afternoon would guarantee a low-scoring opener to pre-season, but Fleet and Woking fans who made their way to Calthorpe Park were rewarded with some excellent goals and an interesting glimpse into the season ahead. It was an exciting day for both trialists and finalised signings for the Cards in particular, with Wokingâ€™s #10 opening the scoring from a well-worked set play before goals from Jack Cook and Reggie Young sealed a successful first outing for the visitors.
In terms of line-ups, Dowse made it clear that plenty of trialists would be a part of the group, along with some of the more promising youth coming through the ranks at Woking. The Cards named entirely different teams for the first and second half, featuring 12 trialists and resting a number of first-team players still recovering from injuries. With Staunton, Wassmer, Appau, Jolley, and Wheeler all missing out, Woking fans were audibly intrigued to see how a number of unfamiliar faces would acquit themselves.
With much at stake for many of Wokingâ€™s players the Cards started brightly, as trialists looked to make a positive and early impression on the game. Within two minutes the visitors opened the shooting, with Duane Ofori-Acheampong battling to make space for a shot from W#10 that forced a corner. The Woking forward worked hard during his time on the pitch to make space for his teammates, and was unfortunate that the trialist alongside him didnâ€™t convert the early opportunity.
Within the opening fifteen minutes, Woking were deservedly ahead, as the home side failed to assert themselves and were left haphazardly dealing with the Woking attack. Following close efforts from Fabio Saraiva and the Woking #11, Paul Hodges, a bursting run down the right-hand side from the visitors drew a free kick level with the penalty area. Saraivaâ€™s whipped-in ball found Collier at the far post, who nodded back across the six-yard box to tee up the Woking #10 to roll the ball past the unfortunate Fleet keeper, opening the scoring for the Cards.
Fleet failed to respond to falling behind, and did little to trouble Berti Schotterl in the Woking goal before halftime; the bustling efforts of their #7 were a fleeting positive in a half where the Blues largely failed to land a glove on visitors from a higher division. Numerous long throws from the F#5 were dealt with by the towering presence of Jack Cook, with Ian Gayle proving a stalwart presence alongside him to address any concerns.
Just 15 minutes after their opener, Woking converted a second. Wokingâ€™s #6, who had acquitted himself well in the defensive midfield role without contributing much to the attacking phases of play, hammered a low shot into the ankles of Fleetâ€™s #3, leading to a Cardinals corner. The delivery from Fabio Saraiva was an unmissable invitation for Jack Cook, who leapt above his marker to thump home a near-post header with the keeper frozen to the spot. At 2-0, having barely faced a shot on their own goal, Woking were cruising.
Seeing little more action between Cookâ€™s header and the end of the first half, Woking could reflect well upon a very positive 45 minutes. With a number of players auditioning for their place, and a comprehensively strong performance against lower-league opposition, it was largely left for Woking to lose the game that theyâ€™d made such a strong impression on in the opening stages.
Half time: Fleet Town Woking 2
Woking switched out their entire starting line-up for the second half, reverting to a much more inexperienced side. Youngsters Sam Mason, Dan Choules, Charlie Hester-Cook, and Reggie Young were all given 45 minutes to impress, alongside 7 more trialists â€“ including Matt Young - looking to make the grade at Kingfield.
The second half opened as the first had ended, with Woking largely dominating possession but struggling to finish the chances they created. The replacement of Ofori-Acheampong in particular changed the shape of the game, with Wokingâ€™s #20 striker trialist proving a handful to deal with in the air at an unnoticeable 6â€™8!
This dominance was converted into another goal just 10 minutes after the restart, with Woking attacking strongly down their right-hand side. The ball was worked in to Wokingâ€™s #19 to tee up Reggie Young, and the winger took the chance with aplomb, firing past the Fleet keeper from 20 yards on his week foot. The goal would set the tone for Reggie, who looked the most promising Woking player on the day with some superb runs and dangerous crosses, and who will fill an exciting role as homegrown talent for Cards fans to keep an eye on for next season.
With both sides battling the heat and a dry, patchy pitch, itâ€™s no surprise that the game petered out once Woking put the score beyond the home side. The Cards continued to create as their hosts struggled, with Reggie Young floating two beautiful crosses into the box that were denied by desperate Fleet defending, whilst the Blues struggled to muster a shot at Sam Masonâ€™s goal. A rare mistake from the young Woking keeper threatened to shatter the status quo when Mason was robbed by Fleetâ€™s #11, but once the ball was controlled, the forward failed to find the F#15 in the box racing to support him, and Fleet never created a more serious opportunity to get back into the game.
Woking, in contrast, could have made it 4 or 5 by the full-time whistle. The Woking #20 smashed a volley over with 10 minutes to go, before Reggie Young made himself felt over the final period of the game with three crosses that wouldâ€™ve created a goal if the finishing had been up to his standard of delivery.
As injury time crept on, the youngster felt it appropriate to assert his presence, sitting down the Fleet #14 with a sultry stepover, before nutmegging his midfield marker a few minutes later with the deftest of touches. The teenager was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch on the day (despite Dowseâ€™s criticism of his poor tracking back in the warm-down!) and can be sure that his performance has put him into squad contention for the rest of pre-season.
The final whistle blew with little more incident, and put to bed what was basically a strong training session for the visitors. With Fleet unable to create anything that troubled the Cards with any regularity, and with Woking putting together a side of trialists and youth players that remained largely untested for the second half, it now remains to be seen which trialists have made the grade and which are deemed to be surplus. With Dowse looking to put together an 18-man squad by the Wimbledon game in 10 daysâ€™ time, the next fortnight looks an exciting period for Cards fans who are watching with eagle eyes to see their team for the approaching campaign come together.
Woking: 1 Berti Schotterl, 2 Nathan Collier,3 Trialist, 4 Ian Gayle,5 Jack Cook, 6 Trialist, 7 Paul Hodges, 8 Fabio Saraiva Â©, 9 Duane Ofori-Acheampong, 10 Trialist, 11 Trialist
Woking Second Half: 12 Matt Young, 13 Sam Mason (GK), 14 Dan Choules,15 Trialist, 16 Trialist, 17 Danny Taylor, 18 Charlie Hester-Cook, 19 Trialist, 20 Trialist, 21 Reggie Young, 22 Trialist
Goals: #10 Trialist 16, Cook 31, Young 56
Man of the Match: Reggie Young. Easily the brightest attacking outlet for either side on the day, Reggie scored a brilliant goal and shouldâ€™ve had more assists, had the finishing been up to his standard of crossing. Nutmegging his marker in added time summed it up.