Effiong strike earns narrow win over Ebbsfleet

Nathan Thomas
12:00am, Tue 21st Nov 2017
Woking 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
Vanarama National League
21st November 2017

Inih Effiong’s first half strike earned Woking a narrow victory over Ebbsfleet United at the Laithwaite Community Stadium on Tuesday night to stop a run of five games without a win. Sam Mason’s acrobatic save prevented Danny Kedwell from equalising in the 67th minute in a game that lacked many clear-cut chances.

The Cards were looking to avenge last season’s shock 1-0 defeat by Ebbsfleet in the FA Trophy when the visitors at the time were in the National League South. Woking were without a win in the league since mid-October but knew three points could propel them back into the play-off places, depending on results elsewhere. Woking made two changes from the 1-1 draw against Maidenhead on Saturday with Inih Effiong and Nathan Ralph replacing Jamie Philpot and Fabio Saraiva. One notable inclusion for the visitors was the inclusion of Anthony Cook, brother of Woking’s Regan Charles-Cook.

Woking kicked off on a fairly mild night for the end of November against the visitors who were in navy shorts and socks with a bright yellow shirt to accompany it. Woking’s first attack came in the 7th minute as Charlie Carter drove into the box but his ball aiming for Effiong was well cleared by the visitors. Joe Ward’s curling shot on the edge of the box shortly after was also comfortably dealt with.

The first 20 minutes saw no real chances for either side as they both continued to cancel eachother out, it was plain to see why only two points separated the sides in the National League. 17-year-old Woking academy graduate Sam Mason was called into action twice with a looping header and a shot from distance within the early stages. A dangerous free-kick allowed the visitors to have a clearer sight of Mason’s goal in the 21st minute. Jack Powell flashed the set-piece wide of the goal with the aid of a Woking head, the resulting corner came to nothing.

The breakthrough came for Woking to finally liven up what had been a drab affair until the half hour mark. A good run by Charles-Cook was halted by a heavy touch, the resulting clearance found Richard Orlu on the halfway line. The Woking centre back had great vision to loft the ball into the path of Inih Effiong 25 yards from goal. Effiong found a gap between the two Ebbsfleet defenders but he still had a lot to do; he took a strong touch to beat the two defenders who were static to leave him one-on-one with Nathan Ashmore. The Woking No.9 guided the ball under Ashmore’s legs and into the net. He showed a calm head and good composure to provide the finishing touch.

Ebbsfleet had a good chance to equalise four minutes before the break as the Woking defence found themselves short at the back. The visitors poured men forward following an interception and despite a strong challenge from Nathan Ralph the ball eventually found an unmarked Luke Coulson on the edge of the box thanks to industrious work from Powell. Coulson however could only bend his shot just wide of the Woking goal - a let-off for the Cards. The visitors were then forced into a change after Andy Drury was struck with the ball from in his own man in the face - not ideal for a Tuesday night in November. He was replaced by Myles Weston.

That was the last action of the half as Inih Effiong’s calm finish on the half-hour mark separated the two sides. Luke Coulson’s shot past the right-hand post was the closest the visitors came to a first half equaliser. A fairly scrappy encounter.

Half-time: Woking 1 Ebbsfleet 0

The start of the 2nd half was almost a carbon copy of the 1st with no side having any clear-cut chances. Another driving run from Carter into the box in the 50th minute looked ominous but he held onto it for too long and was eventually halted. Ward had two chances to cut in from the left and unleash a shot but they were both prevented by an Ebbsfleet challenge.

The visitors were seeing more and more of the ball as the clock ticked past the hour mark as they searched for the equaliser. But credit to Woking; chances were at a premium with Orlu and Wynter marshalling the back-line well. Ebbsfleet’s growing pressure finally allowed the dangerous Coulson t0 spring the offside trap via a lofted ball in the 65th minute. He could only fire well over the bar from a narrow angle; Mason did enough to put him off.

The 17-year-old then produced an incredible save in the 67th minute to prevent a certain leveller. A long throw found Danny Kedwell on the edge of the 6-yard-box. Kedwell’s header was guided on target for a certain goal but Mason produced a fine acrobatic touch to tip it over his bar. The visitors growing dominance forced Anthony Limbrick into a tactical change; he opted to bring on Joey Jones for Carter in the 70th minute. The dangerous Coulson who spurned two great opportunities in the evening was also hauled off for Danny Mills.

Woking then had a golden opportunity of their own shortly after the subs as Kane Ferdinand was prevented by a super double save from Ashmore. A Woking cross found Ferdinand’s head just outside the six-yard-box and his downward header was pushed back to him from Ashmore. The visitors’ keeper was alert to get back to his feet and prevent the Woking midfielders certain tap-in. The flurry of subs had certainly livened up the game, Limbrick also brought on Millwall loanee Jamie Philpot for Charles-Cook in the 78th minute as Woking searched for an elusive 2nd.

Mason then tipped over his bar for the second time in ten minutes as Ebbsfleet substitute Danny Mills whipped in a shot/cross which resulted in a corner for the visitors. The corner led to a quick Woking counter-attack and Effiong guided a ball into the onrushing Ward, who cut inside and was brought down. Despite strong shouts of a penalty from the Woking faithful, Ward was booked for diving. The visitors poured men forward in the final ten minutes which allowed Woking to become a threat on the counter-attack.

Mason was once again alert and off his line to prevent substitute Mills again in the 85th. He was showing a performance beyond his ages. Ebbsfleet continued to take a more direct approach to try an force an equaliser but Woking were continue to plug any threat the visitors tried to create through Kedwell. Joey Jones dropped into a back 5 to add bodies into the back line.

Despite the visitors’ constant pressure in the four minutes added time, they lacked any quality in the final third/ The Cards put in a solid defensive performance to protect their first-half lead.

Woking stopped a five game winless run thanks to Effiong’s calm finish in a game that lacked many chance. The result meant Woking climbed a place to 8th and are only outside the playoffs on goal difference.

Woking: Sam Mason, Matt Young, Nathan Ralph, Richard Orlu, Jordan Wynter, Chez Isaac , Kane Ferdinand, Charlie Carter (Joey Jones 70’), Regan Charles-Cook (Jamie Philpot 78’), Joe Ward (Fabio Saraiva 88’), Inih Effiong

Goals: Effiong 30’

Booked: Ward: 80’

Unused subs: Declan Appau, Lazar Stojsavljevic

Ebbsfleet: Nathan Ashmore, Sam Magri, Chris Bush, Kenny Clark, JackConnors, Andy Drury (Myles Weston 42’), Jack Powell, Dean Rance, Anthony Cook (Shaun Shields 57’), Luke Coulson (Danny Mills 71’), Danny Kedwell

Unused subs: Jonathan Miles, Marvin McCoy

Attendance: 1580

Referee: Alan Young

Sponsors MOTM: Kane Ferdinand, industrious as ever in the middle and was vital in screening the backline as Ebbsfleet piled on the pressure.

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