Academy Bulletin | U23s maintain unbeaten run

Ian Tilley
8:03pm, Wed 21st Feb 2024

Upcoming Fixtures – Week commencing 19th February 2024

Tuesday 20th February

19:45 – Worthing U18 v Woking U18, Isthmian Youth League Cup, Semi-Final

The Crucial Environmental Stadium, Worthing

Wednesday 21st February

13:00 – Bromley U19 v Woking U19, National League Alliance – Academy South

Bromley FC, Hayes Lane

13:00 – Woking U17 v Dorking Wanderers U17, National League Alliance – Division E

Westfield FC, Woking Park

Saturday 24th February

15:00 – Hartley Wintney U23 v Woking U23, Suburban Football League

Hartley Wintney Memorial Ground, Green Lane

For up-to-date information on fixtures refer to the Woking Football Club Academy twitter page.

Match Reports – Week commencing 12th February

Tuesday 13th February, Chatham U17 5 - 0 Woking U17

National League Alliance – Division E; Bauvill Stadium, Maidstone Road Sports Ground, Chatham

This was not a good start to the week against a side that had previously only earnt 4 draws from their 13 League games. The scoreline serving to underline a performance that left a lot to be desired.

Chatham were 2-0 up within quarter of an hour, and Woking did not offer enough to suggest that they would get back in to the game. Both goals came as Chatham reacted quickly to goalmouth scrambles. The first on ten minutes followed a fantastic save from Bob Honey, but he was powerless to stop Wassim Hammaci firing home from close range. Hayden Webb tapped home the second, benefitting from the referee playing an advantage.

JJ Young and Roshaun Cooper did start to wrest back some control in midfield as the half went on, but the half-time score was a fair reflection on a lack-lustre effort from the Cards.

Half-time: Chatham 2 – 0 Woking

There was still hope that Woking might get back in to the game, and Jayden Smith and Liam Manby might both have done better with the chances that came their way, but matters got worse on 62 minutes. Alfie Jones finding time and space on the edge of the area to drive past Honey on the ‘keeper’s right side to make it 3 - 0.

Byron Mitchell was introduced (his time being managed as he would also play on Thursday) and showed great endeavour, but it was Chatham who could have already increased their lead before Louie Belsham took advantage of Woking losing possession, and fired home from the edge of the area to make it four on 82 minutes.

Chatham rounded things off in style, a fine cross from Mason Wiggett knocked in at the far post by Colin Igboma to finish a very bad day for the under 17s. Much more will be expected of this team in the games to come.

Chatham: Ronnie Tidman ©, Lewis Nichols, Charlie Pringle (George Adnett 73), Alfie Jones, Kieran Jordan, Bartosz Bulcwicz, Wassim Hammaci (Evan Koukoulis 56), Louie Belsham, Hayden Webb (Emmanuel Falayie 80), Mason Wiggett, Colin Igboma. Unused sub: James Crawford (GK).

Goals: Hammaci 10, Webb 15, Jones 62, Belsham 82, Igboma 90.

Woking: Bob Honey; Sam Cook, Ben Smith, George Elston, Sean Bull; Charlie Sweeney; Jayden Smith (Saadiq Bangura-Kerr 77), JJ Young ©, Roshaun Cooper (Stefan Van Wijngaarden 65), Liam Manby; Jack Bashford (Byron Mitchell 61). Unused subs: Louie Sullivan (GK), Fynn Lawrence.

Wednesday 14th February, Woking U19 3 - 2 Dorking Wanderers U19

National League Alliance – Academy South; Westfield FC, Woking Park

At one point this threatened to go the same way as the under 17s game the day before, but the under 19s fought back well to follow their success against Welling with another win. As the fixtures come regularly and injuries, and even holidays, come in to the equation, Woking made three changes, Ethan Gold, Ben Mitchell and Aiden Payne-James coming in for Tom Gardner, Tom Dryer and Sam Brittain.

Woking did have a couple of chances through Ben Mitchell, who called Harry Charlesworth in the Dorking goal in to action twice, before Ollie Rawlins gave Dorking the lead on 16 minutes. Woking were opened up by a through ball which put Rawlins in to round Lewis Mouland and shoot goalwards, with Ryan Scott’s dive not enough to stop the ball crossing the line.

Woking were struggling to find their passing rhythm, and midway through the half Ollie Mason required treatment, the cure being the cutting of holes in the back of his socks. Woking were having to make a number of recovery tackles and found themselves two down on 33 minutes as Dorking broke when Woking lost the ball, Lucas Elliot heading home despite Mouland getting a hand to the ball.

And just as fears were growing of a repeat of Tuesday, Woking had a goal back. Mitchell put in a great challenge to win the ball on the edge of the Dorking area, and after an incredible goalmouth scramble the ball finally broke to Jamie Hilton who smashed it home from a few yards out.

There was still time for some pushing and shoving as Dorking reacted to a strong Mitchell challenge, before the half drew to a close.

Half-time: Woking 1 – 2 Dorking Wanderers

Woking started the second-half well, with their forwards pressing Dorking, and creating chances. The equaliser came from the penalty spot. It is often discussed why referee’s talk to players who are fouling each other as they jostle for possession as they prepare for the delivery of set pieces. Many argue that players will stop fouling if the consequence is more forthcoming. On this occasion the referee did, indeed, point to the spot. Lui Edwards despatched the spot kick emphatically to draw the sides level after 54 minutes.

With Ben Mitchell cautioned for a late challenge, it did seem wise for him to be replaced, and this shortly before Woking went ahead. Payne-James' dribbling had already been electrifying, and he was to create the winner on 62 minutes. A fine through ball on the edge of the area, and a confident, quality finish past the on-rushing ‘keeper from Alex Rihoy.

Confidence boosted, Woking were now keeping possession much better, and competing well. There were no clear-cut chances as the half-progressed, but of course, there is always danger with a narrow lead and Jack Matton was called on for a fine clearing header as the game entered time added on.

Keion Vassell did miss a chance to make it 4 – 2, but Woking were able to see out time and claim back-to-back wins. The Cards had made things hard for themselves with a slow start, but responded well, and were much better in the second half.

Woking: Lewis Mouland; Ryan Scott, Jack Matton, Ethan Gold ©, Jayden Wynter; Alex Rihoy, Ollie Mason, Jamie Hilton (Harry Newbould 74); Ben Mitchell (Keion Vassell 58), Lui Edwards (Lewis Myrtollari 88), Aiden Payne-James. Unused subs: Harry White (GK), Charlie Robertson.

Goals: Hilton 39, Edwards 54 (pen), Rihoy 62.

Dorking: Harry Charlesworth, Neo Wooster, Henry Gunay, Luca Fulco, Paddi Harland-Goddard, Liam Trevatt, Joel Brown ©, Seb Tauta-Caballero, Luke Bejasuibe, Ollie Rawlins, Lucas Elliott. Subs: Seb Parsons, Mason Myles, Matt Hay, Rahul Mungur, Max Holland.

Goals: Rawlins 16, Elliot 33.

Thursday 15th February, Woking U18 1 - 2 Badshot Lea Colts U18

Midweek Floodlit County Cup, Second Round; Knaphill FC, Redding Way

Having beaten Raynes Park Vale 6 – 0 in the First Round, hopes were high that Woking would win through to a Third Round tie at Kingstonian. Following two postponements at Badshot Lea, this tie was switched, and Woking welcomed their Allied Counties West opponents to Knaphill. Unfortunately, the under 18s were not to have things their way.

Woking started with attacking intent, but found themselves behind on nine minutes. Henry Smith finding time and space in the Woking penalty area to tee up Oli Bennett, who finished neatly from 15 yards.

The game was in danger of passing Woking by, the lack of energy and aggression suggesting the players weren’t switched on to the matter in hand. A delay on the half-hour mark saw Badshot’s goalscorer succumb to a hamstring injury, but it was Badshot who continued to press. Taylor Bridger got goal-side of his marker just outside the six-yard box, and a rather clumsy challenge gave the referee no option other than to point to the penalty spot. A frustrated Mikey Verga got a hand to Bridger’s spot-kick, but it was well hit and found its way in to the bottom corner.

Woking did respond well, exemplified by the work of Ben Smith and Lucas Boxall, the latter forcing a good save after good build-up play from Jacob Farr. But the half was to end with Badshot still two to the good.

Half-time: Woking 0 – 2 Badshot Lea

It was good to see Ellis Byrne, hopefully close to a return after his leg break earlier in the season, encouraging his team-mates, with plenty of positive coaching, but although a rejuvenated Woking were to get the upper hand in the second-half, they had left it too late to turn things around.

Tommy Seale came on at half-time as Woking sought the comeback, and the Cards were looking more dangerous, with the introduction of Liam Manby on the hour providing further inspiration, but it was Badshot who came closest to the next goal. They had the ball in the net after having hit the bar in the build-up, but the flag was already up for offside before the ball was over the line.

Woking continued to press, but when they did finally score, it was too late to ultimately affect the final outcome. JJ Young took the goal well, but with 90 minutes on the clock it was to prove nothing more than a consolation. That said, it did spark concern amongst the Badshot ranks, and a number of tempers boiled over as Badshot tried to prevent a quick restart.

There was an additional ten minutes, some of it caused by the time taken for the referee to book a Badshot coach for continually complaining about how much time was being added, but Woking were not able to find an equaliser – their slow start had left them with too much to do.

Woking: Mikey Verga; Alvaro Picon, Ben Smith, Aidy Silverstein, Jacob Farr; Harvey Brook, Harrison Stevens (Tommy Seale 46), Lucas Boxall (JJ Young 75); Byron Mitchell, Stanley Kyle ©, Louis Pask (Liam Manby 60). Unused sub: Harry White (GK).

Goal: Young 90.

Badshot Lea: Malachy Mulhern; Sam Padley, Josh McMahon, Kit Littlefield; Henry Smith, Jake Higgins, David Garlinge, Alfie O’Donnell © (Danny Aleksondrov 60); Oli Bennett (George Winkworth 30), Taylor Bridger, Harry Greenwood. Unused sub: Oliver Foulkes.

Goals: Bennett 9, Bridger 32 (pen).

Referee: Steven Ferris.

Attendance: 38.

Friday 16th February, Woking U19 3 - 3 Oxford City U19

National League Alliance – Academy South; Woking College, Rydens Way

Having previously drawn in the league, but lost in the cup, this season, Woking were once again to find Oxford a tough opponent. In a relatively quiet first-half Oxford had more of the ball, but Woking had the best chances, one falling to Ben Mitchell who forced the ‘keeper in to a good stop.

Half-time: Woking 0 – 0 Oxford City

Woking started the second-half strongly, and took the lead when Tom Gardner headed home Ryan Scott’s corner.

What followed can only be described as five minutes of madness. Oxford equalising as Harry White and Ethan Gold got in a mix up from a long punt up field, allowing the Oxford striker to score. It was 1 - 2 to Oxford from the kick-off as Woking lost the ball on the edge of their penalty area, and 1 - 3 two minutes later as Oxford counter-attacked decisively.

Just as it looked as if time would run out for Woking, they halved the deficit on 88 minutes, Ryan Scott’s long ball finding Lui Edwards, who knocked the ball past the defender, before hitting the half-volley home from just inside the box. And in the 93rd minute Woking had the equaliser. Ryan Scott’s third assist of the match found Ethan Gold unmarked to chest down and fire home.

There is still work to be done with this side, but this was a fine display of character and resilience. After finding themselves bottom of the table the current run of four games unbeaten definitely sees them heading in the right direction.

Woking: Harry White; Ryan Scott, Tom Gardner, Ethan Gold ©, Jayden Wynter; Harry Newbould, Ollie Mason (Jack Matton 82), Alex Rihoy (Jamie Hilton 65), Ben Mitchell (Keion Vassell 70), Lui Edwards, Aiden Payne-James (Lewis Myrtollari 77). Unused Sub: Charlie Robertson.

Goals: Gardner 50, Edwards 88, Gold 90+3.

Loan (Dual Registered Players) watch:

Saturday 17th February.

Owen Crawford, Goalkeeper, 3rd year – Camberley Town: Played the full game of the 2 - 1 defeat to Epsom & Ewell.

Jack Matton, Centre Back, 2nd year – Binfield: Played in the 2 – 1 defeat at South Park.

Jamie Hilton, Centre Midfield, 3rd year - Guildford City: Played in the 5 – 1 defeat at Redhill.

Ben Mitchell, Forward, 2nd year - Guildford City: Did not play.

Ollie Mason, Centre Midfield, 2nd year – Ascot United: No fixture.

Lui Edwards, Forward, 3rd year – Banstead Athletic: Was an unused substitute for the 1 – 1 draw with Alfold.

Aiden Payne-James. Forward, 2nd year – Sevenoaks Town: Came on as an 85th minute substitute when score was already as it would finish – a 3 – 0 victory over Erith & Belvedere.

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