Boz's Fruit & Veg

Escape from Essex

Alan Worth
10:33pm, Sat 9th Oct 2010
Brentwood Town 1 Woking 1
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
9th October 2010

A last gasp strike from Joe McNerney, deep into time added on, provided Woking with a desperately needed lifeline and a second opportunity to make the final qualifying round of the FA Cup. Brentwood Town, camped in their own half for much of the second half and playing the majority of the second period with only ten men, had appeared to have done enough to hang on to their slender lead.

But with three minutes remaining of the six added by referee Mr. Mackay, Aswad Thomas (pictured) was brought down on the edge of the box after a dangerous run into the heart of the home defence. Up stepped substitute McNerney and, again showing his great versatility, flighted his free kick over the wall and into the top corner to silence the vociferous home support.

The game could not have started any worse for the Cards. Slow out of the blocks, they were immediately in trouble. Within minutes of the start a Brentwood free kick from the right caused panic in the Woking defence and finished with a close range effort cannoning off the post. This narrow escape did not provide the necessary wake up call and on just four minutes “the Blues� had scored. Further panic in the Cards' defence, desperate attempts to clear the ball before Green was on hand to put Brentwood ahead from close range.

On ten minutes Craig Faulconbridge had Woking’s first real chance to level things up but his downward header at the far post, after Mark Ricketts' free kick was floated in from the left, was blocked on the line.

Playing with the wind, Brentwood appeared the more likely to score, however, and Andy Little was almost caught out by Okojie’s cross – caught by the wind the Cards' keeper had to back pedal furiously before pushing the ball over the bar. Further chances fell to the home side as Woking struggled to gain any control in the midfield. A vicious shot from Muir whistled past Little’s post and as the half came to a close Ryan Doyle ballooned his shot over the Woking bar after the Cards had struggled to clear a succession of corners.

Half-time: Brentwood 1 Woking 0

Now playing with the wind at their backs, the Cards started the second period in the ascendancy and as the half wore on so their domination increased. But Brentwood, a big, tough-tackling side seemed more than a match for anything Woking could offer in front of goal.

On 58 minutes Brentwood’s right back, Ryan Doyle, collected his second booking and was dismissed. Down to ten men, it was now very much a rearguard action as the Ryman side battled to hold on. Woking’s approach play hardly helped as it was often too slow and lacked any real penetration. But as the home side tired so the chances began to appear – Gilroy had a great opportunity but slid Ademola’s low cross wide of the post. Hurrell fired straight at the keeper from a tight angle and then Ademola did well to turn his marker before firing a soft shot well wide.

It was now all Woking and on 79 minutes Faulconbridge had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for hand ball. Ricketts had an opportunity after Brentwood struggled to clear a corner but his shot from the edge of the area was blazed over. And then with a minute remaining, Ola Sogbanmu, on for Dave Gilroy, headed a corner back across the goal to Falconbridge. With the goal gaping Craig was not able to get on top of the ball with his header and the chance was gone.

With six minutes of additional time remaining and the home side now struggling to keep the Cards at bay, Woking pumped the ball forward at every opportunity. Again Faulconbridge had the ball in the net but his header was ruled out this time for offside. As the frantic shouts from the Woking bench rose to a final climax, 'man of the match' Thomas made his last ditch sortie through the centre of the Brentwood defence. All that was left was for someone to finally put away the free kick at this last-gasp opportunity. Joe McNerney remained calm and did what was required from just outside the box.

So, Woking live to fight another day in this season’s premier cup competition. They managed to escape from the Brentwood Centre with a much-needed draw in a game they had generally dominated. But while they struggle to create and put away their chances they remain vulnerable. Tuesday’s replay will be no pushover.

Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Alan Inns (Andy Forbes 79), Adam Doyle, Moses Ademola, Jerome Maledon, Craig Faulconbridge, Dave Gilroy (Ola Sogbanmu 68), Sam Hurrell (Joe McNerney 76)

Unused subs: Francis Quarm, Ryan Blake, Matt Pegler, Josh Watkins

Brentwood Town: Hall, Doyle, Blewitt, Noel, Beale, Dafter, Okojie (Stokes 65), Parmenter, Green, Ryan (Elbi 80), Muir (Sonuga 90)

Unused subs: Carlos, Norcott, Pyne, Gardner

MOTM: Aswad Thomas

Attendance: 748

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