Engines stalled as Concord frustrate shot-shy Cards

Albert Cole
12:00am, Sat 14th Oct 2017
Woking 1 Concord Rangers 1
FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round
14th October 2017

Woking came into this game in great league form, and were short-priced favourites to see off the challenge of Concord Rangers, who sat just one off the bottom in Vanarama League South, and without an away win all season. That said, they were also on a four-game unbeaten run, and had triumphed in their last two FA Cup Qualifying ties by convincing margins of 3-0 and 4-0.

The Cards made three changes from the side that defeated Dagenham & Redbridge seven days earlier; fit again skipper Richard Orlu replacing the suspended Josh Staunton, also fit again left back Nathan Ralph in for academy graduate Lazar Stojsavljevic, and Inih Effiong starting in place of Jamie Philpot.

Woking started the game attacking the Leslie Gosden stand, but as early as the first minute Concord’s Khale Da Costa broke into the box, forcing Jordan Wynter into a hurried clearance for a corner. The corner in took a couple of headed flicks, before landing on the roof of the Woking net for another corner. This time, Woking won a free kick as Nathan Ralph was fouled on the edge of his own penalty area. Up the other end, Woking also forced a couple of corners in quick succession; the second of which was chased away to safety.

In the fifth minute, a decent ball from midfield into the Woking penalty area caused concern, with the Beach Boys skipper and leading scorer, Steve Cawley, just unable to connect. Four minutes later, a free kick from midfield was floated into the box and skimmed off the head of Effiong and away for a corner. It did seem rather strange to see Effiong on defensive duties, rather than in his usual position as an ‘outlet’ in such situations.

Woking were struggling to impose their usual quick passing game on the visitors, but Bawling got away down the right and put over a good cross, but this was safely gathered in by Louis Wells in the visitors’ goal. Joe Ward also burst into the box before playing in Effiong, who looked certain to score but Wells clawed it away superbly. The resulting corner was dealt with comfortably enough.

On 22 minutes, Steve Cawley gathered the ball in space in midfield, looked up, and seeing Baxter off his line, tried an outrageous effort from fully 35 yards. Baxter seemed to have lost his bearings, but recovered well enough to back-pedal and scramble the ball away for a corner.

Long throw-ins by Harry Lee seemed to be a particular strength of the Beach Boys play, and it was from one such set piece that they took the lead in the 35th minute. Woking defenders failed to properly clear, and failed again to react to the second ball, allowing Cawley too much time and space to pivot on the edge of the area, firing the ball with his left foot away from Baxter’s dive and into the net for his sixth goal of the season. It nearly got even worse six minutes later as Femi Akinwande got away down the Woking right before squaring to Cawley, who bent a shot just wide apparently with the aid of a deflection.

Half-Time: Woking 0 Concord Rangers 1

Woking had looked a shadow of the side we had come to expect in the first half, and Anthony Limbrick effected an immediate change at the start of the second half, presumably looking for a reaction, bringing on Jason Banton, yet another injury returnee, in place of Bawling.

The Cards certainly showed more urgency after the break, with much good stuff coming through Banton; but whilst there was certainly much more movement and endeavour, on too many occasions good positions were worked only for one too many touches to be tried when shooting looked like the best option.

Ten minutes in, the ball fell to Orlu on the left hand edge of the area, but he fired just over under pressure. Concord were content to sit deep with all ten outfield players behind the ball and invite Woking on to them.

On 66 minutes on-loan Millwall striker Jamie Philpot entered the fray, Matt Young making way. Chez Isaac went to right back, allowing Philpot to play alongside Effiong up front. The Beach Boys bench countered immediately; bringing on the vastly experienced Steve King in place of Da Costa.

Regan Charles-Cook went on an exciting mazy run from midfield, escaping the clutches of Harry Lee, but again tried to do too much when he had worked a good position for himself, and the danger was cleared. Harry Lee was cautioned for an attempted pull-back in the build-up.

On 74 minutes, a corner from the right by Isaac was met by the head of Kane Ferdinand, but his downward header bounced up and straight into the arms of keeper Wells. It didn’t look like being Woking’s day, and three minutes later, in a last throw of the dice, the Cards threw on Charlie Carter in place of Chez Isaac, the formation changing to a back three.

Just when it looked like the Cards were going to fall victim to a cup shock, Banton won the ball 25 yards out and drove at the Concord defence, drifted past a couple of defenders, and tried his luck. His shot was deflected away, but fell kindly to sub Philpot who kept his cool to fire back across goal and beyond Wells into the net, to the delight of the faithful in the KRE.

Woking had their tails up now, and right on 90 minutes Joe Ward worked an opening for himself on the edge of the area, moved the ball onto his left foot and unleashed a fierce shot that looked certain to nestle in the top corner, but somehow Wells made a superb diving save to push it away for a corner.

The fourth official signalled 4 minutes of added time, and in the first of them Charles-Cook was bundled off the ball 30 yards from goal. Joe Ward took responsibility for the free kick, but unfortunately fired into the side netting.

At the death, the shock very nearly materialised after all. Cawley, easily Concord’s best player on the day, broke down the right. The Cards' defence seemed to freeze as he unleashed a fierce shot which cannoned off the near post with a thud. Seconds later, the referee’s whistle signalled a replay on Tuesday night in Canvey Island would be necessary to separate these two sides. Woking will need to be in much better form then to ensure that they make the first round proper for another season.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Matt Young, (Jamie Philpot 66), Nathan Ralph, Chez Isaac, (Charlie Carter 77), Jordan Wynter, Richard Orlu ©, Bobson Bawling (Jason Banton 46), Kane Ferdinand, Inih Effiong, Regan Charles-Cook, Joe Ward

Unused Subs: Joey Jones, Declan Appau, Lazar Stojsavljevic, Sam Mason

Goal: Philpot 86

Concord Rangers: Louis Wells, Jed Smith, (Kyron Farrells 85), Amos Nasha, Lewis Knight, Billy Roast, Khale Da Costa, (Steve King 67), Harry Lee, Femi Akinwande, (Rob Girdlestone 80), Steve Cawley ©, Lewis Taaffe

Unused Subs: Adam Topley, Danny Parish, George Marsh

Goal: Cawley 35

Referee: Savvas Yianni

Attendance: 1,004

My MOTM: Richard Orlu – the returning skipper did everything that was required of him in a calm and composed manner.

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