Cards edge into last eight of FA Trophy

Phil Batts
10:03am, Sun 7th Feb 2016
Woking 1 Oxford City 0

FA Trophy 3rd Round

February 6th 2016

A spirited and skilful Oxford City side made Woking battle all the way before Garry Hill's men secured a place in the FA Trophy quarter-final and a £7,000 pay day. Whilst never quite at their best in very tricky playing conditions, the home team often lacked quality in the final third but nevertheless did enough to go into the hat for Monday's draw as the manager looks to book a date at Wembley on May 22nd.

A well-contested and fairly even opening half saw the home side snatch a fortieth minute lead courtesy of a Joe Quigley strike as 40-50 mph winds buffeted the Laithwaite Community Stadium throughout the afternoon. The visitors pressed hard for an equaliser in the second period without creating any real clear-cut chances. They were not helped by the referee, Mr Hatzidakis who, to the bemusement of many in the ground, showed a second yellow card to City skipper Jose Lapoujade for an apparent trip on Giuseppe Sole with seven minutes of the match remaining.

Woking made two changes to the starting eleven which earned a 2-2 draw the previous Saturday at home to Barrow. Keiran Murtagh replaced Matt Robinson in midfield and new loan signing Shaun Jeffers from Yeovil Town replaced Giuseppe Sole up front, the latter probably feeling a little unlucky to lose his place in the starting line-up having found the net in the two previous league matches.

The home side, in a 4-4-2 formation, kicked off towards the KRE with the gale force wind at their backs. Both sides, understandably, took time to grow accustomed to the near freak conditions.

Woking were first to show after five minutes as Quigley and John Goddard combined well before the danger was snuffed out. A few minutes later, Jeffers raced forward only to shoot wide.

It was not all Woking, however, as the visitors started to gain momentum as they put together some slick passing moves.

Back came the home side and good interplay between Jeffers and Goddard saw the latter square the ball across the box but just out of Quigley's reach.

Ex-Card Bradley Bubb, still clearly a force to be reckoned with, then did well to release Marlon Jackson but the right-winger blazed over the bar.

Oxford now started to look threatening and to visibly gain in confidence as the home side seemed unable to find a higher gear. Matters were not helped for Woking as defensive lynchpin Brian Saah had to leave the field, clearly feeling under the weather although fortunately for Cards' fans, he was able able to return a few minutes later, apparently none the worse for wear.

The visitors continued to show up well as Jackson, in particular, continued to cause the home defence problems down the right.

An effort from Goddard was then competently dealt with by Laurie Walker in the Oxford goal and Joey Jones almost got on the end of a dangerous looking Cameron Norman free kick. Scott Griffiths, at left back, was having an impressive game, seemingly recovered from his nightmare debut 'og' the previous week, as he regularly broke up Oxford attacks and used the ball intelligently going forward.

In the thirty-seventh minute, the visitors almost took the lead. Slack defending left Bubb in the clear but looking almost surprised to find himself in on goal, the striker could only toe-poke his effort tamely at Jake Cole.

This scare served as a wake-up call for the home side. Firstly, Quigley sent a low curler wide of the far post before the Cards took the lead five minutes before the interval with what turned out to be the only goal of the game. Bruno Andrade (pictured), who had been far from potent in the early exchanges, wriggled free down the right and his cross found Quigley with time and space ten yards from goal. The young striker duly found the roof of the net, Walker's hand being unable to keep the ball out. Much to the amusement of the home fans, a heated argument then ensued between Walker and defender Santiago, presumably regarding the poor defending which led to the goal.

The goal was clearly a confidence boost for the Cards as they proceeded to dominate the final few minutes of the half. Jeffers might well have secured a debut goal when he headed wide from a delightful Goddard dink to the far post as the Oxford defence looked under real pressure for the first time in the opening forty-five minutes.

Half-time: Woking 1 Oxford City 0

Neither team made any changes at the interval and it was Woking who started the second half on the front foot. Despite this home pressure, however, an Oxford raid saw the dangerous Jackson go to ground, a little too easily, just inside the penalty area and mild appeals for a penalty from the visitors were waved away by the referee.

Goddard's silky skills were now very much to the fore as the playmaker's deft touch and trickery on the ball started to bamboozle the Oxford defence.

The all-important second goal just would not come, however, and the visitors could clearly sense that there was still something in the game for them the longer it went on.

The middle part of the half saw Woking having to defend desperately, the introduction of former Oxford United attacker James Roberts adding further menace to the City firing line with his pace and confidence on the ball.

There was a scare for Woking on the hour mark as Lapoujade stole into the penalty area but his far post header was easily saved by Cole when the left back might have done better.

The game was starting to open up and Goddard was unlucky when he jinked free just outside the box only to see his drive strike the outside of the post. Andrade, now much more of a threat, also started to tantalise the Oxford defence down the right flank, but no Woking players were able to get on the end of a number of dangerous crosses the diminutive winger fizzed in as the match reached its closing stages.

The visitors were then dealt a blow as they were gathering themselves for one final effort to force a replay. Much to the consternation of the away dug-out and the bemusement of the home supporters Lapoujade, who had been booked in the first half, was shown a second yellow card for what appeared to be a fairly innocuous trip on Giuseppe Sole.

With the wind taken from their sails, the visitors continued to battle on as driving rain now added to the already difficult conditions.

Woking had weathered the storm, however, the final incident of note seeing Alex Smith, on as a substitute, almost managing to send a free kick over the LGS and out of the ground!

This was an evenly contested match which the home side just about edged. For their part, the visitors, with young manager Justin Merritt at the helm, produced plenty of evidence to suggest that they could hold their own in the higher league should they kick on and achieve promotion from the Vanarama National South this season. Garry Hill will now have his fingers crossed for a favourable draw in the next round as he looks to steer the Cards to a Wembley date in May.

After a Surrey Senior Cup match at home to local side Westfield on Tuesday night, it is back to the 'bread and butter' of the league next Saturday when Guiseley will be the visitors to the Laithwaite Community Stadium as the Cards, currently sixth in the Vanarama National League, continue their push for a play-off place.

Woking: Jake Cole, Cameron Norman, Brian Saah, Joey Jones, Scott Griffiths, Mark Ricketts, Keiran Murtagh, Bruno Andrade (Alex Smith 84), John Goddard, Joe Quigley (Giuseppe Sole 69), Shaun Jeffers (Matt Robinson 77)

Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Jake Caprice

Goal: Quigley 40

Oxford City: Laurie Walker, David King, Jon Arzamendi, Jose Lapoujade, Marlon Jackson (James Roberts 51), Reece Fleet, Adrian Santiago, Julen Lafuente, Declan Benjamin, Bradley Bubb, Connor McDonagh (Carlos Pifarre-Forner 72)

Unused subs: Lee Henderson, Kaylem Patterson, Amer Awadh

Booking: Lapoujade 29

Sent Off: Lapoujade (2nd yellow card) 83

Attendance: 923

Woking Man of the Match as nominated by Match Sponsors Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Woking : Bruno Andrade - a quiet opening half-hour but came into his own thereafter, in particular whipping in some great crosses which team mates were unable to convert

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