Cards move into the play-offs with well-earnt win

Justin Burns
12:00am, Sat 23rd Nov 2019
Maidenhead United 2 Woking 3
Vanarama National League
Saturday 23rd November 2019

The Cards moved into seventh spot and back into the play-off positions with a deserved 3-2 victory away to Maidenhead United on Saturday evening in front of the BT Sport cameras. Woking were by far the better side for long periods of the game, but after looking like they had wrapped up the three points by making it 3-1 with 15 minutes left had to withstand a late fightback from Maidenhead.

On a drizzly afternoon at York Road, Woking were set up in Dowse’s favoured 4-3-3 formation, but had to make a late change after Kane Ferdinand was ruled out and was replaced by Godfrey Poku in central midfield, in what was the only change from last week’s 0-0 draw at home to Halifax Town.

The Cards started the game with energy and purpose and nearly took the lead early doors, when in the fifth minute Jake Hyde swivelled on the edge of the box and hit a low right foot effort that was well saved to the left, before Shaun Donnellan had a shot saved in the ninth minute after striking an effort just inside the box after a cross from the right.

After having far, the better of the early exchanges, Woking deservedly made the breakthrough in the 10th minute when Moussa Diarra (picture above) scored his second goal of the season, when he bundled the ball home from close range after a corner from the left.

The Cards continued to threaten and nearly went further in front in the 15th minute when the lively Loza put in a lovely cross from the left after getting in behind the static Maidenhead defence, which somehow managed to scramble it away. Then in the 22nd minute, Josh Casey whipped in a left foot cross from the right that Diarra headed just wide.

Maidenhead finally got into the game when they first registered their first shot of the game in the 28th minute when Jake Cassidy dragged wide of Craig Ross’ right post and then Ben Gerring defended superbly when he blocked a shot 10 yards out.

The Cards’ fans were getting a little concerned that a second goal had not come after having the lion’s share of possession and some good chances missed. More opportunities for the crucial second went begging after incisive breaks, as the final ball let them down when crosses in dangerous positions were cut out.

Finally, Woking took a 2-0 lead in the 44th minute, much to the relief of the travelling Woking fans, and what a finish it was by Loza, who picked up a wayward header on the edge of the box and flicked it past a man before rifling a right footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner. The Cards fully merited a 2-0 advantage at the break.

Half-time: Maidenhead 0 Woking 2

Both sets of fans were treated to some fireworks at half-time that were part of the Maidenhead town centre Christmas lights switch-on and the home team, who were second best for most of the first half reacted by making two substitutes during the interval.

This seemed to give Maidenhead some impetus and substitute Danny Whitehall made an immediate impact in the 49th minute when his left foot shot was well defended by the hard-working Cards defence. Then in the 55th minute Woking somehow managed to scramble the ball away when Ross first made a great save from Cassidy and then Mensah had his shot blocked thanks to some superb last-ditch defending.

After weathering the storm in the early part of the second half, the Cards nearly went 3-0 up in the 59th minute when Hyde glanced a header from a Poku cross that was well tipped over the crossbar by Dunn.

The game was turned on its head on the hour mark, when Maidenhead pulled a goal back through Whitehall, who tapped home into an empty net after Ross had parried an effort from the pacey Mensah, who had broken free on the left after a fast break.

The end-to-end nature continued and there were clearly more goals in the game, especially for the Cards as the Maidenhead defence looked shaky. In the 64th minute Tarpey nearly scored against his former club when his shot was well blocked near the six-yard box after the dangerous Loza beat his marker and delivered a lovely ball in.

Hyde, like Tarpey, was also playing against his former club, as he played for Maidenhead for around 18 months from 2016 to 2018, and nearly made it 3-1 in the 68th minute but headed over the bar from eight yards out after Cook put in a pin-point cross from the right.

However, Hyde was not to be denied and in the 75th minute he scored his 11th goal of the season when he beat the keeper to the ball and turned home from close range after a teasing chip over the top by Loza. The finish was typical Hyde - a calm, poacher’s finish, which sent the few hundred Cards fans who had made the journey into raptures.

Jake Hyde evades the Magpies keeper to score; pic: David Holmes

After going 3-1 up, Woking seemed to sit back and let Maidenhead back into the game and in the 86th minute Maidenhead set-up a grandstand finish for the BT Sport television cameras by making it 3-2, when Whitehall scored his second of the game when he struck a right foot shot from 10 yards out that went through the legs of Ross and into the back of the net.

The goal tested the nerves of the travelling fans, but Woking played out the last few minutes in a composed fashion, particularly Loza, who ran the ball deep into the corner to waste valuable minutes and there were no more chances for Maidenhead to snatch an equaliser.

The Cards deservedly took home all three points and are now unbeaten in three games, but four on the road and will be looking to continue that run on Tuesday night at the Kingfield when they entertain high-flying Bromley, who are now second in the National League.

Woking are now in seventh place, just inside the play-off positions in a congested division where it seems anyone can beat anyone, and after building up some momentum again, they will be looking to carry on their improved form as they enter the key Christmas period that can make or break a season and when the games come thick and fast.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 3 Josh Casey, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Moussa Diarra, 23 Glen Rea, 16 Shaun Donnellan, 14 Godfrey Poku (Max Kretzschmar 80’), 22 Jamar Loza, 9 Jake Hyde, 7 Dave Tarpey (Jake Gray 86’)

Unused subs: 11 Paul Hodges, 12 Nathan Collier, 26 Christian Paulat-Brigg

Goals: Diarra 10’, Loza 44’, Hyde 75’

Booked: Donnellan, Kretzschmar

Maidenhead United: 1 Chris Dunn, 2 Remy Clerima, 3 Rene Steer, 5 Aron Davies, 8 James Comley, 16 Ryheem Sheckleford, 19 Ryan Upward, 9 Jake Cassidy, 10 Josh Kelly (James Akintunde 87’), 27 Ibra Sekajja (Danny Whitehall 46’), 28 Josh Smile (Bernard Mensah 46’)

Unused subs: 6 Freddie Grant, 20 Jaden Brissett

Goals: Whitehall 60’, 85’

Booked: Kelly, Whitehall

Attendance: 1,307

Referee: Adrian Quelch

Man of the Match: Jamar Loza – caused havoc down the left with his pace and direct running and got the all-important second goal just before half-time

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