Superb Cards triumph in Trophy

Brian Caffarey
9:15pm, Sat 15th Jan 2011
AFC Wimbledon 2 Woking 3
FA Trophy 2nd Round
15 January 2011

A fantastic performance from Graham Baker’s side, capped by a winning goal of the highest quality from ‘man of the match’ Elvis Hammond, saw the Cards advance into the last 16 of the FA Trophy at Kingsmeadow this afternoon in an exciting, end-to-end encounter.

It was good to see the promising Anson Cousins brought in as a replacement for the cup-tied Sam Hurrell as the Cards lined up in a 4-5-1 formation. Ex-Don Andy Little was given a warm welcome by the home fans, as was Alan Inns when he came on as a substitute early in the second half. Terry Brown, for his part, rang a few changes following the Dons’ 0-0 home draw against Luton on Wednesday night but it still looked a tough call for the Cards against their upwardly-mobile neighbours.

The Cards got off to a wonderful start and it owed not a little to the willingness of Cousins to run at defenders. He was halted but the ball ran loose to Hammond, who played in Moses Ademola. His excellent left-foot strike soared into the net to put Woking 1-0 up with only three minutes on the clock.

Two minutes later some fine interplay down the Woking left threatened a second goal as Aswad Thomas got down the byeline, but his cross was cleared by the home defence.

As the game began to settle down, the Dons saw more of the ball but their attacks were blunted by a combination of tenacious tackling, with Mark Ricketts leading the way, superbly committed defending from Adam Doyle and Joe McNerney in particular and a tendency to fall foul of the offside trap.

The Dons still hadn’t managed a shot on target when Thomas made another foray down the left in the 15th minute. His cross went right across the area but Ricky Anane was quick to seize his chance out right, forcing the Dons’ keeper, Seb Brown, into a save at his near post.

Another quick break out of defence saw Lee Sawyer, picking up an excellent headed clearance from McNerney, feed Hammond. His teasing cross was in the right area but Brown was quickly off his line to avert danger.

In the 23rd minute the home side finally tested Little, with Christian Jolley firing in a low effort from the left of the area, which the experienced keeper fielded comfortably.

The Dons had a glorious chance to equalise two minutes later. Jolley broke through Anane’s tackle on the byeline, planting his cross perfectly onto Kirk Hudson’s head but the ex-Shot headed wastefully wide from a few yards out.

Wimbledon continued to enjoy more possession but the Cards made life difficult for them as the midfield contested every ball and the defence challenged strongly. On the half-hour mark a fine move involving Hammond and Jerome Maledon almost put Ademola through. The Dons responded a few minutes later as Sam Hatton headed over the bar from a free-kick just outside the area.

Just as Woking fans were hoping that their side could hold onto their lead till half-time the Dons struck. Nwokeji seized on a headed flick-on as he advanced into the left of the Woking area. McNerney attempted to block his shot but the ball went through his legs and past Little to make it 1-1.

The Cards rallied immediately. Some fine play from Cousins released the ever-dangerous Hammond in another attack. No sooner had that been foiled when the Woking striker slipped the ball to Sawyer, whose shot was blocked. A similar fate befell McNerney’s effort from the resulting corner. In the blink of an eye the Dons were down the other end but Jolley’s chipped shot was weak and landed straight into Little’s grateful arms.

Into two minutes of injury time a poor clearance from Brown fell to Sawyer. He lost no time in playing the ball into Hammond on the penalty spot. Holding the ball up, twisting one way and then the other, Hammond drew a foul as he turned towards goal. Penalty! It was something of a surprise to see Ademola step up to take the kick but the ex-Brentford player is on something of a roll at present and converted superbly, placing the ball high to Brown’s left.

There was just time for the Dons to earn a free-kick, which they wasted as the ball cleared everyone, before the referee blew for half-time, with the Woking players walking off to very warm applause from their fans.

Half-time: AFC Wimbledon 1 Woking 2

Little was quickly in action after the break, palming away a low, close-range header after the ball had mysteriously travelled right across the Woking box from a corner. The Dons then got the ball in the net but the linesman’s flag had been raised well before the final strike.

With only five minutes gone, Graham Baker had to reshuffle his defence, with Alan Inns coming on for Anane and McNerney moving to the right of defence.

The Cards threatened again as Ademola spun and shot after Hammond had played him in. Thomas, and then Sawyer, picking up from his full-back, made headway down the left flank. The ball was centred into Ademola, who struck a fierce left-footed effort. Unfortunately, it was blocked by Hammond, who hadn’t had time to duck.

Attacks continued at both ends as Hammond shot wide from distance and then Little made a great ‘take’ in the swirling wind before clutching Nwokeji’s cross at his near post.

Terry Brown threw on Danny Kedwell and Sammy Moore for Jolley and Hudson, and the Dons ramped up the pressure on the Woking defence as they gained greater control of the midfield, stretching the Cards down both flanks. Some last-ditch defending from Thomas and Sawyer kept the Dons at bay before Little tipped Hatton’s cross-cum-shot over his bar.

But the home side’s pressure paid off in the 69th minute as Doyle was adjudged to have handled a cross. Kedwell converted emphatically, sending Little the wrong way.

At 2-2 and with 20 minutes to go, the tide seemed to be with the home side but the tie still had an unexpected final twist.

Graham Baker pushed Anson Cousins up front for a few minutes to partner Hammond before replacing the Woking youngster with Dave Gilroy.

The Cards continued to have to work hard to repel the home side as Doyle blocked another shot, Little grabbed a cross from Mulley and Wellard tried his luck with a long-range effort which was always veering off target. With the minutes ticking down, Nwokeji then headed a decent chance over the bar. Another shot from Hatton was deflected over.

But it wasn’t all one-way traffic as Gilroy attempted an ambitious volley from out right. Woking kept up a spell of pressure on the Dons’ defence, keeping possession and probing for an opening. After the ball had been played out left a cross came over. In one fluent movement Hammond, with his back to goal, touched the ball to his left and volleyed it brilliantly past Brown for a goal fit to win any match. 3-2 to the Cards!

But the visitors still had three minutes of ordinary time and four minutes of added time to see out. They had Little to thank as he threw himself at Nwokeji to block a strike from close-range but the resolute Woking defence successfully snuffed out other attempts to deprive them of a victory for which the whole side had worked in such determined fashion. Prolonged applause from the Woking fans was a fitting response to a memorable and hugely-satisfying win.

Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane (Alan Inns 50), Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Moses Ademola, Jerome Maledon, Elvis Hammond (Craig Faulconbridge 87), Lee Sawyer, Anson Cousins (Dave Gilroy 73)

Unused sub: Matt Pegler

Booked: Lee Sawyer

My MOTM: Elvis Hammond (pictured)

Attendance: 2259

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