Cards Claim Deserved Draw Versus League One Oxford United in Second PSF

Justin Burns
12:00am, Sat 13th Jul 2019
Woking 1 Oxford United 1
Pre-Season Friendly
13th July 2019

Woking’s second fixture of the 2019-20 pre-season schedule saw the Cards claim a well-deserved draw against League One side Oxford United, who finished a credible 12th in the third tier of English football last season. The Cards matched the visitors stride for stride in a competitive game, coming back strongly in the second half and finding a well-earnt equaliser after falling behind towards the end of the first half.

Dowse opted to set up in the usual 4-2-3-1 formation and made four changes from the side that started the first pre-season game versus Badshot Lea on Tuesday night. Craig Ross started in goal again with Jack Cook replacing Nathan Collier at right-back with Manny Parry partnering Ben Gerring in the heart of the defence and Josh Casey at left-back. In front of them at the base of midfield, Godfrey Poku came in for Kane Ferdinand and new signing Shaun Donnellan, starting alongside him. Max Kretzschmar started wide on the right with Dave Tarpey playing a roaming role in the hole behind Jake Hyde and a trialist playing wide on the left.

The first half saw the visitors’ kick-off and saw the Cards playing towards the Leslie Gosden Stand in their new Sky Blue alternative kit, starting brightly, pressing high up the pitch led by energetic Poku in central midfield and looking to feed the channels. The first chance of the game fell to Woking in the 2nd minute as Cook’s long throw into the box eventually fell to Gerring who’s half-volley was well blocked. Oxford went immediately up the other end to create their first chance, but Jones failed to keep a half-chance down at the back-post following a cross from the right and sent it over the bar.

Oxford then showed why they are in League One with some nice possession football in the midfield but the hard-working Cards harried them all over the pitch and won a corner in the 8th minute and nearly took the lead, as Kretzschmar’s corner on the right was narrowly headed over the bar to the left by Hyde after he made a good near post run.

The visitors had a lion’s share of the possession for much of the next 20 minutes in the centre of the park, keeping the ball well, but they failed to create any clear-cut opportunities, as the Cards continued to match their opponents and worked hard across the pitch while looking dangerous themselves on the counter-attack.

The next decent chance fell to Woking in the 30th minute after good work from Hyde and Kretzschmar on the right hand side. The ball eventually came back to Cook who whipped in a lovely cross from the right hand side and found Parry, who was up from the back and had stayed in the box from a previous free-kick, but his header from around the penalty box went over the top.

The game then livened up in the 36th minute when the visitors took the lead, as a ball over the top from Sykes, found Frear who nipped in after some hesitant defending, before controlling the ball nicely and finishing calmly with his left foot, giving Ross no chance in goal.

The goal opened the game up, as the last 10 minutes of the half saw a few good chances. Sykes sent a shot from the edge over the bar for Oxford before the Cards nearly levelled as Casey floated in a lovely free kick from the middle of the visitors’ half but Cook’s toe-poke went just past the left hand post. A few minutes before half-time, Hyde then sent in a speculative effort from the edge of the box on the right which was comfortably saved.

Half-Time: Woking 0 Oxford United 1

Dowse opted to send the same line-up out for the start of the second-half and the Cards started strongly, pressing well in midfield. Tarpey (pictured above), who had struggled to make a real impact on the game in the first half immediately got more involved and in the 49th minute he cut in off the left flank and fired in a strong right foot shot which was well saved at the near post.

Tarpey and Kretzschmar, who started on the left in the second half, were linking well and in the 52nd minute, Tarpey then had a lovely dipping right foot free-kick from the edge of the box well saved near the left hand post after Max had been fouled.

The Cards were putting pressure on their League One opponents in the first 15 minutes of the second half winning the ball back and making some nice moves into the channels on both flanks and deservedly equalised in the 58th minute through Hyde. The striker, first had an effort well blocked in the penalty box after good work from Max and Tarpey on the left, before the ball came out to Cook on the right who delivered a pin-point cross, where Hyde found some space in the box about 10 yards out and superbly headed the cross into the right corner giving the Oxford keeper no chance.

Jake Hyde rises to head home Woking's goal; pic: David Holmes

Straight after the equaliser, Dowse made a string of changes, as Howes came on for Ross in goal, Diarra came on for Parry in the heart of the defence, Collier replaced the impressive Cook at right back, Ferdinand came into the centre of midfield for Donnellan, Hodges replaced Kretzschmar, Skinner came on for Hyde and the two trialists replaced each other.

The Cards continued to probe, and Tarpey, who was finding plenty of space in the second half with his intelligent movement and running, nearly put them in front in the 65th minute but was denied 10 yards out by a last-ditch challenge in the box. From the resulting corner, the solid Casey, put in a lovely ball where Ferdinand rose highest and headed towards goal but it was well cleared. Oxford offered little up to this point in the second half and the Cards were well on top.

The visitors’ manager Karl Robinson had seen enough, and made a host of changes in the 72nd minute. Among those entering the fray were former England manager Sam Allardyce’s eponymous grandson and former Liverpool player Cameron Brannagan, who has played in the Premier League. The changes boosted the visitors who began to win more possession and Brannagan had a free kick shot well charged down by the well organised Cards’ defence.

Dowse then took off Poku, who had covered a lot of ground all afternoon, in the 78th minute, bringing on academy graduate Joe Morrison, who went to right back and Collier moved into the centre of the midfield alongside Ferdinand.

The Cards finished the stronger and in the 81st minute, Tarpey, who had threatened to grab a goal in the second half, nearly put them in front with a long range right foot effort which was well saved in the left hand side of the goal. Oxford then nearly grabbed the winner a minute later, but Lofthouse failed to find the target and test Howes from 12 yards after being put clean through on the right after being well pressurised by Morrison. Skinner then nearly won it for the Cards when he made a strong run through the middle and hit a long range effort from the edge of the box that was well saved. These were the last chances of a competitive and keenly-contested game.

It was a strong afternoon’s workout for Dowse’s men who matched their League One opponents throughout the game and showed great spirit across the park. After falling behind in the first half the Cards were the better team in the second half and deservedly grabbed an equaliser, giving the visitor’s very few chances. They had more efforts on goal than Oxford and created more opportunities and could easily have nicked it in the last 10 minutes. There were a number of strong performances across the pitch and the Cards will be hoping to keep up this level and intensity when they take on League One outfit Wycombe Wanderers at the Laithwaite on Tuesday night.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross (1 Sam Howes 60’), 2 Jack Cook (12 Nathan Collier 60’), 3 Josh Casey (c), 5 Manny Parry (15 Moussa Diarra 60’), 6 Ben Gerring, 4 Godfrey Poku (17 Joe Morrison 78’), 7 Dave Tarpey, 9 Jake Hyde (19 Jack Skinner 60’) 10 Max Kretzschmar (14 Paul Hodges 60’), 11 Trialist (18 Trialist 60’), 16 Shaun Donnellan (8 Kane Ferdinand 60’)

Goals: Hyde 58’

Oxford United: 1 Simon Eastwood, 12 Sam Long (29 Tony McMahon 72’), 4 Rob Dickie (15 John Mousinho 72’), 46 Nico Jones (35 Sam Allardyce 72’), 33 Kevin Berkoe (3 Josh Roffels 72’), 37 Kyran Lofthouse, 18 Mark Sykes (8 Cameron Brannagan 72’), 20 Jamie Hanson (6 Alex Gorrin 72’), 23 Elliott Frear, 11 Tariqe Fosu (17 James Henry 45’/34 Aaron Heap 78’), 47 Fabio Lopes (39 Owen James 86’)

Subs not used: 10 Gavin Whyte, 38 Ryan Crooks

Goals: Frear 34’

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 716

Man of the Match: Godfrey Poku – high-energy display and impressive work-rate in the centre of the park. He covered a lot of ground, pressing the ball well and won possession back a number of times.

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