Cards Get Back To Winning By Seeing Off Welling

Dan Stobbart
12:00am, Wed 9th Jan 2019
Woking 2 Welling United 0
Vanarama National League South
9th January 2019

Woking returned to league action and extended their unbeaten run in the National League South to 10 matches with an important win over promotion chasing Welling United at the Laithwaite Community Stadium. A Jack Cook header midway through the first half, and a late deflected effort from Greg Luer sealed the points and closed the gap on leaders Torquay to two points.

Following the weekend's huge cup tie, the Cards had to quickly dust themselves down and get back into the league saddle, Dowse making two personnel changes from the side that started against Watford on Sunday. With Ben Gerring missing through suspension, Harry Taylor was deployed in the right back position, with Nathan Collier partnering Jack Cook centrally. Oxford United duo Armani Little and Harvey Bradbury made their first starts since returning to the club last week, with Little slotting in for Taylor in midfield and Bradbury starting up top in place of Jake Hyde.

On a chilly, dry winter evening at the Laithwaite, Welling kicked off facing the Kingfield Road End. Woking started the brighter, looking to move the ball forward quickly, Bradbury scuffing a chance wide inside the opening couple of minutes after being fed from the left channel. The lively Jamar Loza had been making a few inroads down the flanks, unlucky to be shut out in the box following a good Toby Edser through ball, then flashing a ball across the six yard box following a Bradbury flick on, no one there to convert. Good skill from Little to beat two defenders on the edge of the area led to winning a free kick, Edser striking from 25 yards, low and around the wall, the ball just curling past the post.

The Cards' attacking endeavour was rewarded with a bit of fortune on 23 minutes. Excellent upfield distribution from Craig Ross was latched on to by Loza down the left side, winning a free kick on the edge of the box. The resulting delivery was sliced up in the air by a Welling defender and sat up nicely for Jack Cook to nod home at the back post.

Shortly after, Craig Ross was at it again with Pickfordesque distribution, this time finding Josh Casey down the left, the full back unable to get success with his subsequent cross. Around the half hour mark Edser fed Loza again, though he was narrowly flagged offside; on the counter attack Loza did well to create space to get a shot off cutting in from the left, really well blocked by Dan Wilks, although the author is not convinced he knew much about it. Loza was unable to execute a follow up effort, the ball eventually falling to Christian Jolley, who lashed over.

A series of late, careless challenges from Welling peppered the first half period and produced a trio of yellow cards against the away side, but it was Armani Little's high boot on full back Danny McNamara that led to a yellow card for the midfielder and instigated a flare-up between multiple players from both sides. After an extended ‘melee’, no further cautions were, surprisingly, issued.

The tense end to the half continued, with both sides having their best chances. Shortly after Little struck a free kick over the bar from outside the box, Bradbury - who had been testing the Welling defence throughout the half with his physicality and running - impressively squeezed between two players, squaring the ball for Edser who from 12 yards. The latter couldn't quite wrap his foot round the shot and it was ultimately a comfortable stop for Wilks. Welling - restricted to predominantly tame through-balls and crosses throughout the half - nearly profited from one on the stroke of half time, two players rising highest to get contact from John-Paul Kissock's free kick, nudging the ball into the grey area of ‘did it cross the line / did it not’. Fortunately, an offside flag had gone up, ensuring the Cards went into the break a goal to the good.

Half-time: Woking 1 Welling United 0

A scrappy beginning to the second half was epitomised by a couple of Welling players going down off the ball in the left back area. On three occasions, players went to ground in a short space of time and stayed down, seemingly not under particularly tough challenge or malice from Woking players, with nothing ultimately punished by the referee.

The game sparked back into life around the hour mark, Welling making a double substitution and in conjunction with some sloppy passing and giveaways from the Cards, proceeded to put the home side on the back foot. Full back Danny McNamara became a real force down the right side of attack, bursting into the box at pace, getting a shot away after cutting inside, the resulting corner leading to an overhead effort swept over by Brendan Kiernan. McNamara then teed up striker Danny Mills to strike over the bar; shortly after the Cards had a huge let-off as the tall and imposing Mills directed a header towards the top left corner, the ball coming off the inside of the post and rolling across the goal line, Casey, to everyone’s relief, finally getting rid.

Dowse reacted to the rocky period by freshening things up, Nicky Wheeler and Greg Luer coming on for Loza and Bradbury respectively. Welling's gradual commitment of more bodies up the field started opening up room for the counter attack, and the Cards looked to exploit this to regain a foothold in the game. Little and Hodges had joy with charging bursts from central midfield, the latter doing well to retain the ball near the corner flag, his near-post cross not able to pick anyone out. The substitutes combined well down the left channel, but Luer's cross/shot was comfortably dealt with.

The tallest man on the pitch, Mills, was still bothering the Cards’ defence in the late stages, Nathan Collier defending resolutely on a couple of occasions and Craig Ross producing a good save low from a downward header. Woking put the game to bed though on 84 minutes, Edser's attempts to get into the box thwarted just outside, the ball spilling out nicely to tee up Luer, whose shot took a deflection via the centre half, and looped over Wilks to the delight of the Kingfield Road End.

The Cards were unable to benefit more from their positive play in the first half, and had to survive a bit of a scare in the second, but Dowse will obviously be really pleased his side came through with three points and a clean sheet against play-off chasing opposition. The Oxford duo Little and Bradbury appeared to get back in the groove immediately, showing their respective qualities throughout, Harry Taylor didn’t seem fazed playing out of position and an honourable mention for Christian Jolley in particular, who worked tirelessly all night going box to box. With a rare weekend off coming up, the Cards have a 10-day break before the next game, away to St. Albans , where they will look to further extend their unbeaten run.

Woking: 1 Craig Ross, 2 Harry Taylor, 3 Josh Casey, 4 Jack Cook, 5 Nathan Collier, 6 Christian Jolley, 7 Toby Edser, 8 Armani Little, 9 Harvey Bradbury (15 Greg Luer 68'), 10 Paul Hodges, 11 Jamar Loza (14 Nicky Wheeler 68')

Unused subs: 12 Jake Hyde, 16 Ian Gayle, 18 Berti Schotterl

Goals: Cook 23’, Luer 84’

Bookings: Armani Little 34', Paul Hodges 90+'

Welling United 1 Dan Wilks, 2 Danny McNamara, 3 Craig Braham-Barratt, 4 Arnaud Mendy (15 Montel Agyemang 78'), 5 Josh Hill, 6 Thierry Audel, 5Josh Hill, 7 John-Paul Kissock (17 Brendan Kiernan 61'), 8 David Ijaha, 9 Matt Paterson, 10 Bradley Goldberg (16 Gavin McCullam 61'), 11 Danny Mills

Unused subs: 12 Zak Newton, 14 Anthony Acheampong

Bookings: Thierry Audel 13', Danny Mills 26', Arnaud Mendy 33', Danny McNamara 90+'

Referee: Matty Buonassi

Attendance: 1483

Man of the Match: Sponsors’ Choice – Josh Casey.

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