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Cards U23s hold firm at Farnborough after a dominant first-half performance

Luke Hammond
12:00am, Sat 5th Sep 2020
Farnborough 1 Woking U23s 2
Pre-season Friendly
5th September 2020

Woking’s first team had travelled down to Southampton to face the Saints U23s side earlier in the day which gave the chance for the talented Woking’s U23s to face up against a physical Farnborough team.

Cards U23s manager Scott Harrison looked to give a few of the Woking youngsters a run out at the ‘Easy As HGV’ Stadium; both teams fielded a number of trialists.

There was a healthy attendance of 390. With the turf slightly long and the sun shining through the clouds, it looked to be a good day to keep the ball on the floor.

The opening minutes started briskly with both sides unafraid of putting a challenge in. Woking looked to open the scoring early on, as Trialist #5 received the ball on the left-hand side and beat two men skilfully but could not find the target with a curling shot sailing over the bar.

In the early stages Woking’s defence were dealing with Farnborough’s long ball effectively which helped them spring into life on the attack. Cards' Morgan Porter gathered the ball from a Woking header and charged towards the Farnborough defence. He played a clever through ball into the path of Selim Saied who looked to be through on goal, but a Farnborough defender recovered well.

As the game settled, Farnborough’s right-back Seth Owens looked to be the Yellow’s main point of attack. A threaded pass was played to Owens behind the Woking defence and the full-back drove the ball low across the box; flying centimetres away from a Farnborough player’s toe before Woking cleared.

Despite the Yellow’s dangerous outlet at right-back, they struggled to make inroads towards the Woking goal as Woking’s midfield and defence allowed little space for Farnborough to work in.

Yellows' right back again found himself in a crossing position in behind the Cards' defence, but the Woking centre-back pairing covered the front post well and managed to clear.

Once the first quarter had passed, Farnborough started to bring the intensity up, winning more challenges and coming out with the ball in midfield, more often than Woking.

The Yellows started to move the ball into forward positions and won three freekicks in quick succession in dangerous areas. However, the deliveries were floated in with no real venom and the Cards’ stern defence meant the ball was cleared with no worry of an opener.

However, Woking weren’t the ones to be worrying. In the 22nd minute, Card’s Trialist #4 stole the ball off the toe of the Farnborough defender, accelerated towards goal and looked only to have the keeper to beat, but Yellows’ centre back, John Oyenuga, attempted recovery with an audacious sliding challenge. The Ref decided the defender took the man down illegally and gave a penalty. Woking’s Trialist #5 stepped up and drove the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0.

Woking’s opener gave them an injection of momentum and confidence - particularly the two trialists up front, who were making clever runs in behind the Farnborough defence and were proving tough to pick up.

At 29 minutes, the Cards nearly had a second handed to them when a long ball was floated in from a free kick and Farnborough keeper Liam Beach came steaming out to the edge of his area, fluffing the catch. This meant Trialist #4 had one man to beat on the line but curled his shot wide.

As the half-progressed, Woking’s Trialist #4 proved a continued nuisance for the Yellow’s defenders and was a key component of Woking’s hard earned second. A long ball was launched forward in the 32nd minute by Woking, Yellows' Oyenuga struggled to control the ball out of air as Brazil nipped in and sped away to the by-line, cutting the ball back to Trialist #4 who drove the ball home. 2-0 Woking.

From this point on, Woking found a weakness in the Farnborough defence and looked to send the ball over the top to Trialist #4, who was tough to clamp down on.

As the first half drew to a close, Farnborough were finding it difficult to push out of their half and Woking’s Jake Rumble and Trialist #4 were building a strong connection down the left that looked dangerous going into the second half.

Half-time: Farnborough 0 Woking U23s 2

Farnborough started the half with more intent and Spencer Day’s half time talk looked to have changed the attitude of some of his players.

However, Woking still managed to find holes in the Yellows’ defence as the ball was spread wide to Trialist #4 who found himself one on one with Owens. #4 cut inside and created space for a right-footed shot, but curled the ball just wide of the far post.

Woking were pushing more bodies up the pitch, trying to kill the game early on in the second half, which meant that a Farnborough trialist was becoming more influential in the middle of the park for the home team.

The game opened up 10 minutes into the half with both teams playing with more freedom and with a Farnborough trialist taking advantage of the space, making a number of intelligent runs in behind the Woking back line. The trialist came close to reducing the 2-goal cushion when a longball was sent over the heads of Cards defenders; he managed to barge himself into a good shooting position just outside the box, but his half volley flew inches over the bar.

An hour had gone, and Woking’s young midfield looked to have some tired legs. This meant Farnborough could enjoy a good spell of possession with more space to play in. The Yellows got their reward in the 61st minute when a free kick was awarded centrally just outside the box.

Farnborough’s Trialist #6 stepped up and blasted the ball down the middle of the goal giving Woking's keeper no chance, to make it 2-1.

Cutting the deficit in half looked to have taken a toll on Woking mentally. Farnborough stepped up a gear again moving the ball wide and getting good crosses into the box.

However, Woking still had their long ball method which had proved tough to defend against in the first half. This tactic nearly came good again when a ball was sent over the top for Selim Saied to chase. The ball wasn’t cleared by the Yellows’ defence and it dropped into the path of the striker, who couldn’t control it for a one- on-one with the keeper.

The Cards looked to be content with sitting back and defending a 2-1 lead as Farnborough continued to look the most likely to score going into the final quarter of the game. The Yellows utilised one trialist as a main focal point of the attack while another was proving too much physically for Woking’s midfield, for much of the second half.

With Farnborough pushing up the pitch looking for an equaliser, it left them wide open for a Woking counter-attack which the Yellows nearly paid for in the 76th minute. The Cards’ Morris Musselwhite (on as a sub) found himself in space down the right and whipped a delightful ball into Shane Brazil (also a sub) who flicked the ball into an unmarked Trialist #4, who couldn’t direct the header home.

With 10 minutes to go the Cards were resolute on holding on to the win, whereas Farnborough were moving the ball into dangerous areas. A Yellows trialist found himself in space in the box and his shot was nearly deflected into the path of another one.

Brazil had a one on one chance scuffed wide a minute from time, but Farnborough managed to build one more attack. A corner was whipped in and the ball bounced around the Woking box before being cleared; the ball was sent back into the box to a wide open Oyenuga who missed a clear diving header to equalise at the death.

A well fought out victory for the young Woking U23’s against a rigid, resilient and physical Farnborough team, should give them a surge of momentum before the start of the new season.

Woking (starting line-up): 1 Trialist #1 (gk), 2 Trialist #2, 3 Jake Rumble, 4 Morgan Porter, 5 Leo Hamblin (Capt), 6 Jack Bingham, 7 Trialist #3, 8 Jayden Hutchings, 9 Selim Saied, 10 Trialist #4, 11 Trialist #5

Subs: 12 Alex Emery, 13 Callum Blackhurst (gk), 14 Morris Musselwhite, 15 Theo White, 16 Flynn Paphiti, 17 Shane Brazil

Goals: Trialist #5 22' pen, Trialist #4 32’


Farnborough: 1 Liam Beach (gk), 2 John Oyenuga, 3 Jordan Alawode-Williams (Tony Halsey 45’), 4 Bryan Akongo, 5 Trialist #1 (Trialist #6), 6 Seth Owens, 7 Trialist #2 (Trialist #8 45’), 8 Trialist #3 (Trialist #5 66’), 9 Connor Cullen , 10 Trialist #4 (Louie Paget 66’), 11 Tom Leggett (Capt.)

Unused subs: Trialist #7

Goals: Trialist #6 61’


Referee: Thomas Moisey (Southampton)

Attendance: 390

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