Ravens Have Cheek to End Cards Unbeaten Run
12:00am, Tue 24th Sep 2019
Bromley 1 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
24th September 2019
Woking's ten-game unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of league leaders Bromley in a game were a patched-together Cards side showed much tenacity and spirit to match up to their opponents but were ultimately undone by a performance from the home side that improved as the game went on. A Michael Cheek goal towards the end of the first half was enough to see 'The Ravens' move four points clear at the top and extend their own unbeaten run, with the Cards still in third place despite defeat.
Dowse had to make several changes to the side that drew at Chorley on Saturday, with Nathan Collier, Manny Parry, Shaun Donnellan, Max Kretzschmar and Jamar Loza (making his first start) coming into the side. The absentees were Ben Gerring, who began his suspension, Tyreke Johnson, ruled out by injury, with Toby Edser, Dave Tarpey and Jake Hyde also making way, the latter two omitted from the matchday squad due to the playing surface. Reverting to a 5-3-2 formation, Collier joined Manny Parry and Moussa Diarra in the centre of defence, as Kretzschmar played in behind Loza who was up top. Midfielder Christ Tiehi, signed on Monday following asuccessful trial, was on the bench.
On a cool evening, where the heavy rain showers of earlier stayed away, both sides started with intent in a quick-fire opening five minutes. Kretzschmar fed Loza down the right-hand side, and one-on-one with the goalkeeper he attempted a dink over but it was blocked out for a corner. The resulting delivery from Josh Casey found Jack Cook at the back stick but his headed effort was denied, another corner given and then inadvertently another chance, the ball hitting a couple of bodies and deflecting just wide of target.
Straight up the other end, Luke Coulson struck a half-volley from the edge of the area, palmed out by Craig Ross, who was forced into another save from the subsequent ball back in, keeping out Joe Kizzi's header.
For the opening half-hour the game continued to seesaw, albeit at a calmer tempo. Loza was leading the line well for the Cards despite being in an unfamiliar position, stretching the defence with his pace, and was supported well by Kretzschmar and Kane Ferdinand, a succession of through balls from the pair not quite leading to end product for the man recently returning to the club.
A slick Kretzschmar dummy near the half-way line allowed a forward pass to find Shaun Donnellan, who produced a nicely measured cross-field pass from the right, reached an advancing Josh Casey, who squandered a good opportunity by side footing over from close range.
The Cards had further opportunities around the half-hour mark, Loza profiting from an uncharacteristic lapse by Bromley skipper Marc-Anthony Okoye and bending a shot just wide of the far post. Kretzschmar then had a 25-yard free kick find the target but caught comfortably by Mark Cousins. Loza would then find the side netting from a tight angle after a couple of knock-ons found him at the back post.
In spite of the Cards having the better chances, Bromley did see more of the ball through the half and in the run up to the interval enjoyed spells of good possession, the lively Coulson starting to cause problems having switched flanks from right to left. Capitalising on this positive period, Bromley took the lead in the 38th minute, a Billy Bingham strike cut through the middle of the defence and received a touch off of Reece Hackett-Fairchild teeing up Michael Cheek to slide home a finish just ahead of the advancing Craig Ross. The momentum continued with Hackett-Fairchild having a shot blocked a minute later, and Cheek having a header comfortably saved.
Half-Time: Bromley 1 Woking 0
The home side began the second half as they finished the first, Coulson again the main instigator, and he nearly punished a Nathan Collier slip which allowed him to get through one-on-one with Ross, but the stopper stayed big and kept the close effort at bay. Cheek re-directed the rebound toward goal but it bobbled awkwardly between Diarra and Parry and away from danger.
Dowse responded to the increased pressure with a substitution and change of formation, Christ Tiehi coming on for his debut in place of Donnellan, the set-up changing to a 4-2-3-1, with Jamar Loza moving out to his preferred left side of attack position, Nathan Collier then living up to his ultimate utility-man status and going up front. Tiehi would sit with hard-grafting Poku, allowing Ferdinand to continue supporting the front pair.
Despite the switch, Bromley were still on top, really starting to command play in the middle of the park, matching the Cards renowned physicality, winning the second balls, linking well on the edge of the area, carving out chances to extend their lead. Hackett-Fairchild was increasingly menacing cutting in from the left and struck a rising effort perilously wide of the target from 30 yards out. Craig Ross then kept his side in the contest with great diving saves to deny substitutes Shawn McCoulsky and Adrian Clifton with a deft close-range touch and well-directed header at goal respectively. He then palmed away a stinging effort from Chris Bush struck from distance.
Save for Loza trying to make inroads a few times down the attacking left, Woking had struggled to test Mark Cousins in the Bromley goal. The introduction of Toby Edser and Paul Hodges for Kretzschmar and Poku with a quarter of an hour to go served as a final roll of the dice to try rescue something from the game, but the only way the Cards seemed likely to get back into the contest was via a set piece, of which Casey put in a couple of testing deliveries, but were ultimately dealt with. Bromley hung on to see out the game and deprive Woking of points for only the second time this season.
A frustrating night for Woking as the depleted side couldn't quite keep up the endeavour and resilience demonstrated for most of the first half, falling away to a progressively better Bromley side who could have made the win more comfortable if had not been for Craig Ross, who produced some great saves throughout the game, especially the second period. Back to back games at Kingfield now follow for Woking, with a few key personnel returning to the team, the Cards will look to get back into the winning habit again on Saturday with the visit of Boreham Wood.
Bromley 1 Mark Cousins, 2 Joe Kizzi, 3 Sam Wood, 5 Marc-Anthony Okoye (c), 7 Luke Coulson (27 Shawn McCoulsky 66'), 9 Michael Cheek, 10 Billy Bingham, 13 Chris Bush, 19 Reece Hackett-Fairchild, 25 Josh Rees, 26 Alfie Doughty (17 Adrian Clifton 70')
Unused subs: 6 Jack Holland, 11 Adam Mekki, 15 Michael Klass
Goals: Cheek 38'
Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 12 Nathan Collier, 3 Josh Casey (c), 2 Jack Cook, 6 Moussa Diarra, 4 Manny Parry, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 14 Godfrey Poku (20 Toby Edser 70'), 16 Shaun Donnellan (23 Christ Tiehi 58'), 10 Max Kretzschmar (11 Paul Hodges 70'), 22 Jamar Loza
Unused subs: 1 Sam Howes, 15 Jack Skinner
Referee: Matthew Russell
Attendance: 2358 (251 Woking Fans)
Man of the Match: Craig Ross - kept the Cards in the game in the second half with some top saves.