FAT (R5)
3:00pm - SaturdaySat 6th FebruaryFeb 2021
Gander Green Lane

Sutton United
0 - 1


Cards aiming for FA Trophy quarter-finals

Glen Harrington
8:48am, Sat 6th Feb 2021
Sutton United vs Woking
Buildbase FA Trophy
Saturday 6th February 2021

Woking will aim to reach the last eight of the FA Trophy for the first time in five years as they make the short trip to take on Sutton United on Saturday afternoon.

The Cards endured a miserable weekend last time out as they were thrashed 4-1 by an impressive Stockport County side, ending a three-match unbeaten run, which included a penalty shootout victory over Bromley in the last round of the Trophy. Alan Dowson’s side are without a win inside 90 minutes since the 19 December, which was also in this competition, against Dover Athletic. However, having played well in the competition so far, the Cards will be hopeful that they can upset the odds and continue on the road to Wembley.

Sutton have enjoyed a superb season so far and were rightly praised by Dowse in his Friday catch-up. They’re currently enjoying second place in the National League, with 34 points from just 18 games, nine points behind leaders Torquay United but with three games in and. Since the two sides met at the start of December, they’ve won five and drawn two of their nine games in all competitions, with the only defeats coming at the hands of a rejuvenated Chesterfield and at Hartlepool United at the end of last month. On Tuesday night they picked up an impressive 2-0 win at Stockport.

Woking – Team News

Dowse sprung a number of surprises with his team selection last week, shifting to a 5-3-2 formation, with Tyler Reid recalled at right-back and Jayden Wareham earning a first senior start. Most will expect the boss to revert to his preferred 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 today, although captain Josh Casey is likely to remain sidelined, following the shoulder injury he sustained against Maidenhead United. Further forward, Matt Jarvis and Dave Tarpey are unavailable, due to the artificial surface.

Sutton United – The Boss

Matt Gray was appointed as Sutton boss in May 2019 following the resignation of long-time stalwart Paul Doswell. Gray had already been at the club since the previous December as part of Doswell’s coaching team and has done a fine job since stepping into the top job, leading Sutton to a comfortable mid-table finish last season, before seemingly kicking on again this campaign. This is Gray’s first managerial position having previously had spells as an assistant manager at Eastleigh, Aldershot Town, and Crawley Town.

One to Watch

Midfielder Harry Beautyman, a former Woking trialist, is always a danger and has scored five goals already this season. He netted 15 last campaign, including two against the Cards, and was named in the National League team of the season. A two-time England C international, his career has also taken him to the Football League, where he’s featured for the likes of Stevenage, Northampton Town, and Peterborough United, following time with Welling United and a first spell at Sutton.

Last Time Out

Woking 0-1 Sutton United – National League (1st December 2020)

This was third against second at the time and the game played out as many would have expected given the respective league positions – a close fought game decided by a penalty in first-half stoppage time, controversially awarded, but expertly dispatched by Harry Beautyman. Woking might have snatched a point late on, but substitute Jayden Wareham was denied from close range. The Cards have lost their last four games against the U’s and haven’t won away at Sutton since a 5-0 win in August 2011.

Next Up

The Cards will be back at Sutton in just three days’ time for second league fixture between the teams. Next Saturday another challenging match awaits at home to league leaders Torquay United.

No W for the U’s – Cardinals exorcise demons at Gander Green Lane

Ben Musgrove
12:00am, Sat 6th Feb 2021
Sutton United 0 Woking 1
Buildbase FA Trophy, 5th Round
6th February 2021

During Alan Dowson's tenure, Woking FC has not had an enviable record at Gander Green Lane. Just over a year ago, shorn of captain Josh Casey, the Cards somewhat set the tone for an abysmal 2020 by shipping five goals in 43 first-half minutes on the way to a 6-2 demolition. Today's game could not be more of a change in tone, as a similarly Casey-less Cards side gritted its teeth and ground out a 1-0 victory to put itself two wins from Wembley, courtesy of an ingenious bicycle kick from loanee winger Malachi Napa.

Woking's selection welcomed a number of regulars back to the starting eleven, following a couple of surprising selections in the team comprehensively beaten by Stockport on Saturday. The expected midfield trio of Kane Ferdinand, Ben Dempsey and Charlie Cooper was restored, with Alan Dowson reverting to a back four and re-introducing Max Kretzschmar into the starting line-up. Injury to Slavi Spasov saw Jayden Wareham retain his place. The Sutton line-up included Harry Beautyman who scored the penalty-spot winner in the previous encounter at Kingfield in December.

That line-up would be disrupted barely a minute into the game, with a 50/50 between Moussa Diarra and Isaac Olaofe leaving the Millwall loanee unable to continue. Replaced by Will Randall, the personnel change seemed to disrupt the game early on, as did the plastic pitch; light rain on the artificial surface had the ball skipping around at great pace, which required some acclimatisation for the visitors.

Despite this, Woking were the most dangerous side in the early stages. Wareham, leading the line at just 17 years of age, was a focal point of the Woking offence and gave home keeper Dean Bouzanis plenty to think about with his aggressive movement and a looping header that had the Aussie backtracking. Jack Cook also represented a threat through his long throws, with an early barrage of artillery into the box almost leading to a goal; Ferdinand thought he'd scored, somehow failing to connect with a diving header in the six-yard box.

With that said, while it took Sutton a while to refocus, they undoubtedly had the best chance of the half. Following a long throw that seemed to indubitably strike a Sutton hand in the penalty area, the hosts broke quickly break with a long ball into the Woking half, and a slip from Ben Gerring on the treacherous turf put the Yellows in two-on one down the left-hand side. Tobi Sho-Silva’s quick feet forced the lone Moussa Diarra to retreat, with space opening in the centre of the pitch for David Ajiboye to duel Craig Ross one-on-one. The visiting keeper came up big to deny the forward’s delicate effort with a low save to his right.

That chance gave Sutton momentum and began their best spell of the game: a low cross from substitute Randall could've been converted but for a clearance from Ross, while a snapshot from Ajiboye on the edge of the area left Ross and the far post standing. The last fifteen minutes of the half were particularly frustrating for the visitors, not least due to several spurious decisions from the refereeing team that left both sides bemused - particularly in regard to throw-ins.

Right at the death of the half, however, Woking were able to strike a blow that ultimately won them the game. Another long throw from Cook wasn't properly dealt with by the Sutton centre-halfs, and after three chaotic headers in the box, Malachi Napa produced a frankly ludicrous bicycle kick finish to lance the ball into the top corner of the Sutton net. It was the winger's first goal in Cardinal red since his fortuitous strike against Dagenham and Redbridge, minutes before a fairly serious injury; it would also turn out to be the goal to put the Cards two wins from Wembley.

The team celebrates Malachi's goal; pic: David Holmes

Half-time: Sutton United 0 Woking 1

The second half was something of a sparring match, with both sides struggling for clear-cut chances. Sutton's compact, well-drilled 442 began to transition into a more aggressive 4-2-4, ultimately leaving just two centre-halves back on the attack; Woking, meanwhile, dropped from the first half's 433 into a more conservative 4-1-4-1, with Cooper most often handling the responsibility of screening the back line. Short goal kicks into Jack Cook used by Woking to push Sutton's two banks of four deeper into their own half, opening up space for the Cards to attack on both flanks, while the home side looked to move quickly and directly into their pacy forwards as soon as they won the ball on the counter.

Sutton could have gained parity within five minutes of the restart but for a superb recovery slide from Moussa Diarra in his own penalty area, while his defensive partner Ben Gerring headed away a cross that would have offered a tap in for Ajiboye. At the other end, a Kretzschmar free kick only needed an assertive header to double Woking's lead; after a tense bout of head tennis, Diarra scuffed a low effort wide of Bouzanis' post.

Injuries would again be a problem for Sutton in the second half, with first-minute substitute Will Randall stretchered off after a clumsy aerial collision with Kretzschmar, for which the midfielder was booked. As the half went on and the game was increasingly stretched, more changes were needed. The hosts rolled their remaining dice with the introduction of Omar Bugiel for Tobi Sho-Silva, while Woking would respond with their first change, replacing goal scorer Napa with the returning Jamar Loza.

The last fifteen minutes were something of a strategic masterclass from the visitors, keeping the ball in safe areas and using the time up very effectively. The closest the home side would come was a long, low ball in behind the Woking line that Gerring chose to leave for Ross; the keeper had to slide out to clear the ball for a throw ahead of Ajiboye and had some choice words for his teammate. Woking doubled down on their approach five minutes from time with the withdrawal of Wareham - an early finale to a performance characterised with hard running and brave duels - for recent signing Jonte Smith.

Smith’s introduction was aimed to help run down the clock and keep the pitch tight, and the Bermudan put in a huge amount of effort on the ball to keep Sutton at bay in the closing stages, putting on his best 'Greg Luer' impression during added time to wrestle control of the ball in Sutton's corner. Beyond that, it was a frustrating half for Sutton, with centre-back Louis John booked late on for an unnecessary barge on Smith. Bugiel avoided similar punishment for catching Diarra with his studs in the dying moments.

Regardless of the physical hardship, Woking's win over a team that has already beaten them with a clean sheet at Kingfield was a phenomenal response to the drubbing by Stockport on Saturday. Assistant manager Ian Dyer called the performance "an Alan Dowson team; full of heart, full of desire, of endeavour and intensity." The clean sheet was a vast improvement, as was the creativity in midfield, and the Cards will hope to hit a similar standard of performance when they return to Gander Green Lane for the National League game on Tuesday.

Woking: 1. Craig Ross; 16. Kyran Lofthouse, 5. Ben Gerring, 6. Moussa Diarra, 2. Jack Cook; 4. Charlie Cooper, 17. Ben Dempsey, 8. Kane Ferdinand; 10. Max Kretzschmar, 20. Malachi Napa (Jamar Loza 79’), 23. Jayden Wareham (Jonte Smith 84’)

Unused subs: 11. Matt Jarvis, 12. Nathan Collier, 15. Jack Skinner, 21. Tommy Block, 31. Mark Smith

Goals: Napa 45’

Bookings: Kretzschmar 56’

Sutton United 1. Dean Bouzanis; 3. Ben Wyatt, 5. Ben Goodliffe, 6. Louis John, 2. John Barden; 27. Rhys Browne, 15. Craig Eastmond, 10+. Harry Beautyman, 7. David Ajiboye; 25. Isaac Oloafe (Will Randall 1’ (Rob Milsom 56’)), 17. Tobi Sho-Silva (Omar Bugiel 74’)

Unused subs: 32. Filip Chalpniczak, 14. Craig Dundas, 22. Ben Margetson, 26. Aaron Simpson

Goals: N/A

Bookings: John 86’

Referee: Tom Reeves

Attendance: N/A

Man of the Match: 31-year-old Moussa Diarra. On a day where any one on five or six players could claim MoTM, the Frenchman put in the sort of performance that has made him such a popular figure at Kingfield in recent times. Totally dominant in the air in both boxes and a calming presence at the back, making several significant tackles to ensure the clean sheet.

Sutton United LINEUP
1Dean Bouzanis
2Jonathan Barden
3Ben Wyatt
5Ben Goodliffe
6Louis John
15Craig Eastmond
10Harry Beautyman
27Rhys Browne
7David Ajiboye
17Tobi Sho-Silva ('78)
25Isaac Olaofe ('5)
32Filip Chalupniczak
24Robert Milsom ('60)
26Aaron Simpson
14Craig Dundas
22Ben Margetson
11Will Randall ('5) ('60)
9Omar Bugiel ('78)
13Craig Ross
2Jack Cook
16Kyran Lofthouse
5Ben Gerring
6Moussa Diarra
18Ben Dempsey
4Charlie Cooper
8Kane Ferdinand
10Max Kretzschmar
20Malachi Napa ('78)
23Jayden Wareham ('82)
31Mark Smith
12Nathan Collier
21Tommy Block
15Jack Skinner
11Matt Jarvis
26Jamar Loza ('78)
9Jonté Smith ('82)

Sutton United 0-1 Woking | Ian Dyer Interview

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