Woking 0 Sutton United 1
Vanarama National League
1st December 2020
On the final day before Lockdown 2.0 came to an end, Sutton United shut Wokingâ€™s attack down effectively enough to earn a tight 1-0 win at Kingfield. A highly contentious first-half injury-time penalty was all the away side needed to take home the three points, in a very hard-fought game.
Woking boss Alan Dowson made one enforced change in personnel from the Cardâ€™s dominant 4-1 win at home to Barnet â€“ Nathan Collier in at defensive midfield, replacing the suspended Charlie Cooper. Jack Cook, Josh Casey, Saul Shotton and Kyran Lofthouse lined up in defence ahead of Craig Ross in goal, with Kane Ferdinand, Ben Dempsey in front of Collier in midfield. Kretzschmar and Tarpey took up the more advanced midfield positions, behind the prolific Josh Davison in the lone striker role. Of course, this meant sticking with the winning formation of nine days ago.
After an early injury scare to Davison, the first attempt at goal came from the Cards. A dangerous free-kick from Casey was headed onto the underside of the Dean Bouzanisâ€™ crossbar, though the home side were eventually penalised for offside.
The Cards threatened again in the seventh minute, however a simultaneous Collier shot and header was eventually gathered by Bouzanis in the Sutton goal.
Sutton gradually gained a foothold in the game, and were close to the opening goal in the 13th minute â€“ a dangerous free kick from the left bobbled around the goalmouth, but was eventually blocked by a last-ditch Woking challenge.
Much of the next 30 minutes was spent in the middle third of the pitch â€“ with the result being a very cagey game. There were tackles were flying in, dubious decisions at both ends of the pitch, but not a great deal of action in front of goal. Cook was booked for impeding Isaac Olaofe on a Sutton counter, and on another very dangerous Sutton counter-attack Ross was quickly off his line to beat Craig Eastmond to the ball and prevent him putting the away side 1-0 up.
In the 39th minute, Sutton had perhaps the clearest opening of the game so far, but Louis John headed over the bar from a dangerous Robert Milsom corner. Shortly after, it was the Cards turn to push for the first goal, but a Tarpey shot went narrowly wide.
The teams appeared to be heading in goalless at the break, however, unfortunately for the Cards the game turned on its head in first half injury time. An innocuous looking through ball was challenged for by Lofthouse and Olaofe, with both going over in what looked like a genuine 50-50. Referee Lee Collins had other ideas and pointed the spot. Harry Beautyman converted the resulting set-piece confidently to Rossâ€™s right
Half-time: Woking 0 Sutton United 1
Buoyed by their perhaps somewhat fortunate opening goal, Sutton started the second half on the front foot. In the 50th minute, Ben Wyatt got down Wokingâ€™s right and swung in a very inviting cross to Omar Bugiel, however the Sutton striker could only head over from close range.
In the 52nd minute, Bugiel found himself with another good chance, but despite earning himself another great opening from another dangerous cross, couldnâ€™t beat Ross from a few yards out. It was a fantastic save from Wokingâ€™s number one.
Dowse recognised the need for change, and in the 58th minute made a double change, with Jarvis and Spasov replacing Collier and Tarpey. Woking huffed and puffed for the next few minutes, without posing much of a threat, but were handed a lifeline with 20 minutes remaining. Bugiel led with the elbow in an aggressive challenge with Casey at head-height, and was given his marching orders by referee Collins.
Sutton actually handled the one-man deficit fairly well over the next 10 minutes, with the best chance of this period again falling to Sutton. Another corner was swung over by Beautyman, and John forced Ross in the Woking goal to produce another fine save.
Max challenges for a ball; pic: DAvid Holmes
However, as the clock ticked over into the last ten minutes, the flow of the game changed and Woking started to lay siege to Suttonâ€™s goal. First, a Josh Casey free-kick was headed towards goal by Spasov, but Bouzanis made a fairly comfortable save. Two minutes later, an acrobatic Jack Cook effort was blocked on the goal-line and cleared away for a corner, which itself caused Sutton further trouble before being hacked away. Soon after, tricky play from Spasov won Woking a free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box, but Kretzschmar fired the resulting set-piece into the wall.
Jayden Wareham then replaced Dempsey as the minutes continued to tick by, but his arrival so nearly paid off for the home side. The ball was swung over from Wokingâ€™s right, and Wareham rose well to head a powerful effort seemingly beyond Bouzanisâ€™ reach, but the Sutton stopper produced an unbelievable save low to his right to keep his side ahead. There was still time for a big penalty shout from the Cardsâ€™ players and management as Ferdinand went down in the box, however Collins waved away the appeals, and moments later blew the full-time whistle.
In truth, the Cards never truly got going until the last ten minutes, as Suttonâ€™s strong physical approach proved tough to deal with, and were perhaps missing a creative spark in the absence of Cooper. However, the result will still be tough to take for Dowse and his players, due to the nature of the goal conceded and the late chances that went begging. Woking will look to bounce back on Saturday with a trip to Notts County, ahead of the much-anticipated return of fans to Kingfield the following Saturday with the visit of Hartlepool.
Craig Ross, Jack Cook, Josh Casey, Saul Shotton, Nathan Collier (Spasov 58â€™), Dave Tarpey (Jarvis 58â€™), Kyran Lofthouse, Ben Dempsey (Wareham 87â€™), Kane Ferdinand, Max Kretzschmar, Josh Davison
Tommy Block, Tyler Reid
Cook 18â€™, Ferdinand 68â€™, Davison 90â€™
Dean Bouzanis, Jonathan Barden, Ben Wyatt, Ben Goodliffe, Louis John, Kenny Davis, Omar Bugiel, Harry Beautyman, Craig Eastmond, Robert Milsom (Aaron Simpson 77â€™), Isaac Olaofe (Tobi Sho-Silva 90â€™)
Craig Dundas, Jordan Adebayo-Smith, Callum Kealy
Beautyman (pen) 45â€™
Reporterâ€™s Man of the Match:
Craig Ross. The hugely reliable Woking keeper made a number of vital saves to keep the Cards in the game right until the final whistle