Woking News & Mail
3:00pm - SundaySun 12th MayMay 2019
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Welling United
Welling United

Cards looking to seal dramatic promotion against old foes Welling

Glen Harrington
5:42pm, Fri 10th May 2019
Woking vs Welling United
Vanarama National League South Promotion Final
Sunday 12th May 2019

One of Woking or Welling United will be celebrating promotion to the National League this weekend after both sides came through pulsating semi-finals to setup this Sunday’s Promotion Final at the Laithwaite Community Stadium.

The Cards, who came into the play-offs in poor form after a run of just one win in eight games, were facing a Wealdstone side who had already beaten them twice in the regular season. The Raiders had looked certain to make it a hat-trick after racing into a two-goal lead and navigating the first 75 minutes unscathed, but Moussa Diarra’s header, Max Kretzschmar’s well-taken effort after a goalmouth scramble, and substitute Jake Hyde’s cheeky stoppage time chip completed a miraculous comeback for Alan Dowson’s side, who somehow emerged with a first home win since March. He’ll now be looking to cap a memorable first season as Woking boss, which has of course also included a run to the third round of the FA Cup as well as a second-place finish in the league, albeit with one very tough challenge still to come.

Steve King’s Welling side might have failed to beat the Cards in three attempts so far this season, but they’ll be far from pushovers at Kingfield after coming through their own semi-final thriller, where Brendan Kiernan’s 96th minute penalty clinched victory, after opponents Chelmsford City had come from two goals down to level at 2-2 in the closing stages. Welling have had an excellent season, improving massively on last season’s tenth place finish to come third this time around, cashing in on the experience of new manager King and his well-assembled squad of exciting players. Reported financial issues mid-way through the season, along with the departures of several players threatened to derail their campaign, but they bounced back superbly, winning five of their final seven league games after Woking’s draw at Park View Road in mid-March, and come into Sunday’s final very much on an even footing with their hosts.

The games don’t come much bigger than this and with more than 4,000 tickets already sold, time is running out for you to secure yours ahead of Sunday’s final, so please use the online purchasing option provided to ensure you secure yours before the big day!

Woking Team News

Dowse has some crucial decisions to make ahead of Sunday’s game with all three substitutes who came on against Wealdstone – Jake Hyde, Paul Hodes and Kane Ferdinand – putting their names firmly in the manager’s thoughts after their game-changing impact.

The defence looks set to remain unchanged, barring any late injuries, with Jack Cook, Ben Gerring – following his inclusion in the National League South Team of the Season – Moussa Diarra and captain Josh Casey continuing in front of goalkeeper Craig Ross. In midfield, it looks to be a straight shootout between Ferdinand and Olu Durojaiye – against his former team – for who will partner Armani Little in the centre. Further forward, Max Kretzschmar will likely start in the number ten role, with two of Hodges, Kieron Cadogan, Reise Allassani – who scored twice against Welling in March – and Greg Luer playing out wide. If Luer isn’t utilised on either flank then it will most likely be either he or Jake Hyde starting up front, after the latter notched his 15th goal of the season last Sunday.

Welling United Team News

For their semi-final win over Chelmsford, the Wings started with the following team: Dan Wilks in goal, a defensive quartet of Jordan Gibbons, with King last year at Whitehawk, former Woking loanee Craig Braham-Barrett, Anthony Acheampong and the dangerous Thierry Audel, who scored twice against the Cards last time out; in midfield was Arnaud Mendy, another ex-Whitehawk player who has also been with Lincoln City and Luton Town, alongside David Ijaha, who again was with Whitehawk last season; out wide was Brendan Kiernan, with Dowse at Hampton last season, and another former Card in the shape of Gavin McCallum. Up front was Ebbsfleet United loanee Danny Mills and Bradley Goldberg, a dangerous pairing at this level, with both having experience in higher divisions.

The substitutes bench last weekend also included defender Josh Hill, a play-off winner from this division with both Boreham Wood and Braintree Town in recent years, as well as another member of the National League South Team of the Season in winger Nassim L'Ghoul.

Admission Prices

• Adults £15
• Over 65s £10
• Disabled (Including carer) £10
• Students (Under 19) £5
• U16s £5

Supporters are strongly advised to purchase their tickets ahead of the game through our online booking system. We cannot guarantee there will be any tickets available on the day.

Remember, as with all cup games, a season ticket does not offer entry to this fixture.

Little Bit Of Magic As Armani Fashions The Goal Which Seals Promotion

Dan Stobbart
12:00am, Sun 12th May 2019
Woking 1 Welling United 0
Vanarama National League South Play Off Final
12th May 2019

It all came down to this and the Cards did it. In front of a sold-out crowd at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, Woking clinched promotion back to the National League at the first time of asking, winning the play-off final against Welling via a moment of free-kick magic from Armani Little just before half-time. In contrast to last week's emphatic semi-final victory over Wealdstone, a game book-ended by quick-fire goals for either side, this was a far more disciplined, committed and controlled performance from the Cards, who did just enough to get the big prize.

Dowse made two changes to the side that started that dramatic semi-final victory last week over Wealdstone. Clearly encouraged by the impact of substitutes Kane Ferdinand and Jake Hyde in the latter stages of that game, the pair came in for Olu Durojaiye and Greg Luer respectively; Luer was unfortunately not in the matchday squad due to injury. Last season’s Cards skipper Richard Orlu was on the bench for the visitors; a late cameo of significance from him would certainly not have gone down well.

Beneath glorious blue skies, with a cool breeze in the air, Woking kicked off facing the Kingfield Road End, the packed-out stand producing great noise from the outset. The Cards began the game brighter, Armani Little and Reise Allassani getting deliveries in early from the attacking left, the latter particularly unlucky not to find an imposing Jake Hyde near the penalty spot, keeper Dan Wilks just edging out the front man to claim.

The half progressed in a manner not dissimilar to the cup and league encounters between the two at the Laithwaite earlier in the campaign. Tight, fiercely contested, well matched, with much endeavour from both, though substantial goal opportunities kept at a premium. Bradley Goldberg looked the man most likely to produce something for the visitors throughout the half, digging out an effort over the bar from the edge of the area, before providing a knockdown for tall front man Danny Mills, who drove an effort into the side netting from the right side of the area.

On the half-hour the Cards survived a let-off, Moussa Diarra, in his only misstep of the afternoon, slid and missed a possible through ball interception, allowing Goldberg to strike inside the area. The ball rebounded off the inside of the far post and straight into the arms of Craig Ross, to everyone's relief.

Woking's best chance of the half followed a few minutes after, Josh Casey and Allassani linking up well down the attacking left, with the latter measuring a nice through ball to Armani Little surging into the box. The midfielder was unable to muster any power or direction in his effort from 6 yards out on the angle and it was ultimately a comfortable save for Dan Wilks

Little would however make the breakthrough for the Cards just before half-time. A careless challenge from centre half Josh Hill resulted in the game's first caution and a free kick awarded in proper 'Armani Territory' outside the box. Sure enough, the midfielder stepped up and struck a superb effort into the far right of the goal, sending the sell-out crowd into raptures.

Armani celebrates after another stunning free-kick; pic: David Holmes

Half-Time: Woking 1 Welling United 0

During an opening to the second half which saw Welling turn up the attacking pressure, Jake Hyde squandered a great chance just ahead of the hour mark. Fed through on goal by Kane Ferdinand, the match winner last week looked set to repeat that very goal with a composed lob into the net, but instead opted for low placement, which Dan Wilks was able to deal with, sticking a leg out to make the save. Allassani and Hyde linked well shortly after down the left, the former getting a shot off just sailing wide of the near post.

Woking continued to sit back and seemed content to do this and then pounce on the counter. With 25 minutes to go, Welling manager Steve King looked to up the ante with a double substitution, including the introduction of team of the year winger Nassim L'Ghoul. The diminutive attacker had been lively at the Laithwaite earlier in the season and got into the thick of action straight away, fighting his was into the box and having a penalty appeal turned down, before doing really well to get to the byline and put in a searching cross, well dealt with by Casey.

The Wings continued to apply pressure. Josh Hill went for the spectacular just inside the area, acrobatically striking an effort which was headed out for a corner. Danny Mills then surged between the Woking centre halves and struck a powerful effort just inside the box, forcing a great diving save from Craig Ross.

The introduction of Paul Hodges with a quarter of an hour to go gave the Cards an outlet to get up field quicker and it was the usual energetic work of the substitute that led to opportunities for Allassani to strike over from distance and Hyde to strike low at the near post and force a save.

Thereafter it was just about weathering the late Welling pressure, Dowse bringing on Durojaiye and Harvey Bradbury late on to assist with that. In a flurry of continued imperious defending, decisive aerial parrying from Ross and crowd frustration's that the attacking front-line didn't fancy running the clock down near the corner flag (!), the referee blew his whistle after 5 additional minutes. Cue the pitch invasion and scenes of jubilation.

Woking: 1 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Kane Ferdinand, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Moussa Diarra, 7 Reise Allassani (16 Olu Durojaiye 86'), 8 Armani Little, 9 Jake Hyde (14 Harvey Bradbury 90'), 10 Max Kretzschmar, 11 Kieron Cadogan (15 Paul Hodges 74')

Unused subs: 12 Nathan Collier, 18 Sam Mason

Goals: Little 42’

Bookings: Casey 57', Allassani 78'

Welling United 1 Dan Wilks, 2 Jordan Gibbons, 3 Craig Braham-Barratt, 4 Arnaud Mendy (15 Julien Anau 64'), 5 Josh Hill, 6 Thierry Audel, 7 Brendan Kiernan, 8 David Ijaha (c), 9 Danny Mills, 10 Bradley Goldberg (12 Mohamed Bettamer 72'), 11 Gavin McCullam (14 Nassim L'Ghoul 64')

Unused subs: 13 Mo Hajizadeh, 16 Richard Orlu

Bookings: Josh Hill 40’

Referee: Andrew Kitchen

Attendance: 4865 (809 Welling Supporters)

Man of the Match: Ben Gerring. Imperious all afternoon with a display that merited his National League South Team of the Year inclusion.
1Craig Ross
2Jack Cook
3Josh Casey
4Kane Ferdinand
5Ben Gerring
6Moussa Diarra
7Reise Allassani ('87)
8Armani Little
9Jake Hyde ('90)
10Max Kretzschmar
11Kieron Cadogan ('74)
12Nathan Collier
14Harvey Bradbury ('90)
15Paul Hodges ('74)
16Olu Durojaiye ('87)
18Sam Mason
Welling United LINEUP
1Dan Wilks
2Jordan Gibbons
3Craig Braham-Barrett
4Arnaud Mendy ('64)
5Thierry Audel
6Josh Hill
7Brendan Kiernan
8David Ijaha
9Danny Mills
10Bradley Goldberg ('72)
11Gavin McCallum ('64)
12Mohamed Bettamer ('72)
13Mohammed Hajizadeh
14Nassim L Ghoul ('64)
15Julien Anau ('64)
16Richard Orlu

Woking 1 - 0 Welling United | Dowse Interview

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