Woking's promotion hopes take another nosedive against Concord

Alex Wright
12:00am, Fri 19th Apr 2019
Woking 1 Concord Rangers 2
Vanarama National League South​​​
19th April 2019
Woking were left clinging on to second place after another demoralising home defeat to Concord Rangers on a sunny Good Friday afternoon.

With Welling United having closed the gap to two points courtesy of a 2-0 victory over promotion rivals Chelmsford City, the Cards have hit bad form at the wrong time and are now looking anxiously over their shoulders with just two games remaining.

Concord, themselves going for a play-off place, rocked Woking with two quickfire first-half goals by Alex Wall and Joan Luque from which they never recovered despite a Max Kretzschmar penalty after the break.

The Cards were looking to arrest an alarming run of form going into the play-offs, having failed to win a game in over a month since beating Oxford City 2-1 thanks to Harvey Bradbury’s last gasp winner. Their last outing ended in disappointment too, losing 2-0 at Chelmsford.

Rangers have been in similarly inconsistent form after champions Torquay United ended their 10-match unbeaten run with a 1-0 victory at Thames Road, before thrashing rock bottom Weston-Super-Mare 3-0 and then losing 1-0 to Oxford City. But they climbed back into the play-off places on goal difference after a 3-1 win at Truro City in midweek.

The last time the two sides met in Essex back in September, former Woking loanee Billy Knott snatched a late leveller for The Beach Boys after Greg Luer had handed the Cards a first-half lead.

Woking boss Alan Dowson kept the same starting XI but welcomed back Paul Hodges to the bench after missing last Saturday’s defeat to Chelmsford. Ben Gerring was absent again, serving the second game of his two-match suspension after his sending-off against former side Torquay.

Concord’s side included former Woking players goalkeeper Sam Beasant and centre back Connor Essam, on loan from Dover Athletic.

The first incident of any note came on 12 minutes when Craig Ross cannoned an attempted clearance into the back of Olu Durojaiye but fortunately the ball was eventually scrambled away to safety.

Then Kretzschmar fell awkwardly after leaping to flick on a ball and colliding with a Concord player but was soon on his feet again to the relief of the Woking faithful.

Kieron Cadogan then found his way into the referee’s book after hauling down Luque in full flight on 21 minutes.

Moments later after a scramble in the Woking area the ball fell to Wall on the edge of the box and he thundered a shot against the bar and it ricocheted straight back onto Ross’ head but thankfully went behind for a corner.

Luque was next to try his luck after going on a mazy run but his shot from the left side of the box was easily dealt with by Ross.

The Cards failed to heed the warning signs and Wall made no mistake on 31 minutes with his 20th goal of the season when his low drive from a tight angle on the right was fumbled over the line by Ross.

Rangers doubled their advantage on 37 minutes when Luque smashed a strike from 30 yards that sailed into the top left hand corner with Ross beaten.

James Ferry then saw yellow after bringing down Sam Blackman as the first 45 minutes drew to a close with Woking struggling to get a foothold and going off to a chorus of boos.

Half-time: Woking 0 Concord Rangers 2

The Cards needed to respond quickly and they did when Armani Little dispossessed Tosan Popo down the right and tore into the Concord box but was tackled by Essam with a last ditch tackle.

Then Josh Casey floated in a cross from the left which Cadogan headed down but Kretzchmar’s snapshot through a crowd was straight at Beasant. Shortly afterwards Durojaiye picked up the next booking for a cynical challenge.

Dowson had seen enough and brought on Bradbury for Luer and Hodges for Ferry on 58 minutes.

Concord then received their first booking when Sam Blackman shoved Casey over with the Woking skipper racing down the flank.

But Woking got the goal they desperately needed when Popo bundled Hodges over in the box and Kretzschmar stepped up to fire the resulting penalty past Beasant on 64 minutes.

The Cards, now with the wind at their backs, attacked in waves with Little trying his luck from the left with a lofted shot but it was comfortably caught by Beasant.

With the game entering the final phases Jack Cook then played a perfectly weighted through ball to Hodges who drove it across the box but neither Bradbury nor Allassani could get on the end of it with the goal begging. Little was then booked for a high challenge on substitute Lee Minshull.

After a rare Concord break Joe Gardner then crossed the ball for Blackman but somehow he managed to put his header wide with the match drawing to a close.

While the buck stops with Dowson, the players need to take a long hard look at themselves and decide whether they have the fight to win the play-offs with some tough sides in the mix.

Woking have only won two games against the top seven and mathematically both Welling and Chelmsford could overtake the Cards, meaning that they have to play an extra game even to qualify for the play-offs.

After the match Dowson was putting a brave face on it but the harsh reality is that Woking have now gone six games without a win – the worst run in the top seven - and must now pick themselves up and find some much-needed form when they travel to Dulwich Hamlet on Bank Holiday Monday before their final fixture at home to Gloucester City at Kingfield.

Woking: 1 Craig Ross, 2 Nathan Collier, 3 Josh Casey (c), 4 Jack Cook, 5 Moussa Diarra, 6 Olu Durojaiye, 7 James Ferry (14 Paul Hodges 58’), 8 Armani Little, 9 Greg Luer (12 Harvey Bradbury 58’), 10 Max Kretzschmar, 11 Kieron Cadogan (16 Reise Allassani 64’)

Unused subs: Mason, Hodges

Goal: Kretzschmar pen 64’

Bookings: Cadogan 21’, Ferry 44’, Durojaiye 53’, Little 85’

Concord Rangers 1 Sam Beasant, 2 Tosan Popo, 3 Jed Smith, 4 Taylor Maloney, 5 Connor Essam, 6 Tyrone Sterling (c), 7 Sam Ashford (14 Adulla Ahmed 90+2’), 8 Sam Blackman, 9 Alex Wall (16 Joe Gardner 71’), 10 Jack Midson, 11 Joan Luque (12 Lee Minshull 76’)

Unused subs: Green, Kennedy

Goals: Wall 31’, Luque 37’

Booking: Blackman 3’

Referee: Jason Richardson

Attendance: 1,819

Man of the Match: Armani Little – the best of a bad bunch, he stepped up in the second half to drive Woking forward in what was ultimately a fruitless cause.

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