Wrexham AFC 1 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
11th September 2021
Over 8,000 went along to the Racecourse ground after Wrexham fans heard that Woking were coming to town. Well, it may have been because it was only the second home game of the team that may take the 'FC Hollywood' title away from Bayern Munich. They found room for 115 Woking FC fans who made it to North Wales, on an overcast but dry afternoon for a match that saw lots of incident but few good chances for either side.
Dowse named the line-up that had done so well at Torquay with Inih Effiong and Tommy Block coming back onto the bench. The Cards fought hard, especially in the later stages after Wrexham were reduced to 10 men, but were denied a late penalty claim by a referee that didn't make any friends from either side on his visit to Wales.
The Cards started brightly and in the first three minutes, Campbell, who was lively and caused Wrexham problems all afternoon, shot just wide of the goal, while Rohan Ince put the ball wide the other side with a header. It looked good with one and a half chances in the opening minutes, but Wrexham reacted.
Paul Mullin, a top striker who scored 32 in 46 games for Cambridge United before joining the Red Dragons this summer, showed his skill and composure throughout the game and combined well with Jake Hyde, whose play emphasised why Dowse was so disappointed to lose him. They combined well as an attacking duo.
Both strikers played on the shoulders of the Woking defence who pushed up well and during the match there were plenty of offside decisions, although the lateness of many added to the frustration of fans.
A Mullin pass to Luke Young saw Craig Ross saving with his foot and that was followed by a looping header over the Woking bar. Mullin also tackled Diarra firmly, showing he understood both sides of the game. Wrexham left wing back Jamie Reckord also caught the eye with a couple of good crosses, but scooped the ball over the bar after a slick move by his team.
For the Cards, Campbell was causing Wrexham concern and he seemed to be pulled back after getting through, but the referee was not convinced. Linking with Casey, he got in a shot but it was just too high and wide.
Hyde thought he was due a penalty, but was denied. The game was very even, although Wrexham slightly shaded the balance in terms of chances.
Wrexham fans were enraged when a free kick was denied for a clumsy tackle by McNerny on Mullin on the edge of the box. The play was pulled back for an earlier offside.
Woking had periods of good pressure and the front three of Oakley, Maguire-Drew and Campbell were switching their roles around trying to get a good chance.
After 37 minutes, Joe McNerney was booked for a clumsy tackle and the Cards fans were enraged when a similar tackle by a Wrexham defender didn't see the same punishment.
Just four minutes later, Mullin beat the offside to get in behind the Woking defence and put in a neat cross to an unmarked Jordan Davies who headed past Craig Ross for the first goal.
The Cards went in at half time feeling unlucky as the first half had been fairly even.
Half-time: Wrexham 1 Woking 0
Neither side had a clear chance in the first minutes of the second half and the first key incident was a deliberate blocking of a Josh Casey free kick by Tyler French (although the ref appeared to book another player, then changed his mind)
A minute later, in the 55th, the goal-scorer Davies was substituted by David Jones. Maguire-Drew, who was getting more into the game, was booked for a late challenge on Reckford. Mullin again did well from the free kick and flashed a cross in front of the Woking goal, but nobody could get on the end of it.
Kyran Lofthouse was fouled twice in two minutes and then Solomon Nwabuokei fouled Mullin on the edge of the box and was booked. The free kick was dangerous, but the defence was able to clear its lines.
At 66 minutes, Inih Effiong came on for Oakley and Tarryn Allarakhia for Nwabuokei. The referee warned Tyler French for a tackle that surely would surely have been another booking if he hadn't already got one.
The Cards were pressing and a neat move between Effiong and Maguire-Drew petered out when Campbell just failed to get on the end of it.
In the next two minutes, David Jones tripped Campbell and was booked. McNerny's header from the free kick was saved. Then Jones made a late tackle on Lofthouse. That got him a second yellow and he was sent off.
That sending off intensified the hostile atmosphere from the home crowd towards the officials. Hyde was tackled and seemed to be in serious pain which led to some squaring up by players from both sides, but after the referee cooled things down, Hyde seemed fine. Effiong was causing trouble for the Wrexham defence and seemed to be fouled several times without any action by the referee.
Mullin was substituted by Liam McAlinden and Ince by Kane Thompson-Sommers at 85 minutes as Dowse looked for a way to be more offensive.
Woking were start to build real pressure and fans were surprised to see Moussa Diarra moving out of the back three formation to be out on the left wing in the attacking third. The fourth official advised five minutes of extra time.
Maguire-Drew competes for a ball
Extra time was full of incident. McAlinden got a good tackle in to put Ross under pressure, but the keeper got a last minute toe on the ball. At the other end, Rob Lainton made a save from Maguire-Drew who got the ball back and looked to have been fouled in the area, but the referee was unmoved by the penalty appeals. Casey was booked for dissent as the Woking players protested and soon after Dowse joined him in the referee's notebook.
The final whistle saw the Woking players and management continuing to complain to the officials.
Overall, the front pairing of Mullin, in particular, and Hyde were slightly sharper than Woking's front line on the day, so a Wrexham win wasn't an unreasonable result, but the Woking team will feel they did enough to have earned something from the match. The Cards looked more threatening after Effiong came on, but by then Wrexham were down to 10, so he may have had slightly more space than Oakley, although he also exploited his strong physique. It's often said that at the end of the game, if you can't remember the referee, he did well. Sadly, both sets of fans will have unhappy memories of Paul Marsden. Still, the team has shown it can compete with a club that is widely seen as a favourite for promotion and with very substantial financial backing.
13 Craig Ross, 2 Kyran Lofthouse, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Tom Champion, 5 Joe McNerney, 6 Moussa Diarra, 24 Rohan Ince (22 Kane Thompson-Sommers 88'), 8 Solomon Nwabuokei (17 Tarryn Allarakhia 68'), 14 George Oakley (Inih Effiong 68'), 18 Jordan Maguire-Drew, 19 Tahvon Campbell
1 Mark Smith, 21 Tommy Block
McNerney 37', Maguire-Drew 58', Nwabuokei 63', Casey 93' (Alan Dowson 93')
1 Rob Lainton, 15 Tyler French, 5 Aaron Hayden, 6 Ben Tozer, 26 Harry Lennon, 3 Jamie Reckord, 8 Luke Young, 30 James Jones, 7 Jordan Davies (18 David Jones 57'), 9 Jake Hyde, 10 Paul Mullin (11 Liam McAlinden 87')
32 Max Cleworth, 21 Christian Dibble, 20 Dior Angus
Jordan Davies 41'
Bookings: Tyler French 54, David Jones 74'
Sent off: David Jones 76’,
Referee: Paul Marsden
Man of the Match: Player of the Match was a tricky one. All of the Woking squad put in great effort but I went for Tahvon Campbell who was a thorn in the side of Wrexham for the whole match.