Woking 1 Luton Town 1
July 26th 2016
Substitute Charlie Carter grabbed a second half equaliser as the Cards continued their preparations for the new season with a hard fought draw against League Two outfit Luton Town at Kingfield.
Former academy graduate Carter successfully finished off a set piece move after a Fabio Saraiva corner had been flicked on by new addition Charlie Penney. His finish cancelled out Josh McQuoid’s first half penalty for the Hatters.
Garry Hill selected a strong starting eleven with Michael Poke in Goal, a back four of Caprice, Jones, Saah and trialist Ben Gordon in defence, and a midfield of Saraiva, Murtagh and trialists Dennon Lewis and Nathan Ralph with another trialist Zac Ansah joining Gozie Ugwu in attack.
The Cards - back in their traditional home strip - attacked the Kingfield Road end of the stadium in the first half. The first action saw Saraiva thread a neat through ball to Ansah. Luton Goalkeeper Craig King was alert to rush out and collect. However, the early stages saw the visitors grow into the game quicker. Some good chemistry between Cook and Vassell saw the Cards defence tested with Saah responding well to deny a weaving move. Another effort soon after involving the same Hatters combination resulted in Poke saving low to his right.
When Woking found opportunities to attack, it was Ralph who was the creator of some fine crosses into the box. After one cross had been narrowly overhit a second effort soon after appeared to have found Ugwu unmarked. Unfortunately, the striker just couldn’t find the crucial final touch.
Vassell and Cook were again combining at the opposite end for the Hatters. When Cook wriggled clear of the Cards back four it took a quick awareness and a low sliding tackle from Murtagh to prevent a golden chance to score. A few moments later, in the 24th minute, Luton were on the attack again when this time Cook found McQuoid with a reverse pass. Sensing McQuoid was clean through, Poke raced out to meet him but mistimed his tackle and brought the former Bournemouth man down for a penalty. McQuoid picked himself up and coolly dispatched the resulting kick underneath Poke’s right glove.
The Cards responded from conceding in a positive manner and were soon back on the attack. A Ralph corner was headed out to Jones whose fierce shot ricocheted away from the goal. Within minutes an inch perfect through ball from Gordon arrived at Ugwu whose first thought was to find Ansah. Unfortunately, a Luton defender read the play and cut out the pass.
Ralph then won a loose ball and thread inside Ugwu who, despite being surrounded by Luton shirts, managed to get a powerful shot off and test Craig King. Though the shot briefly appeared to squirm loose from King he managed to grasp control before the ball could escape.
Half Time: Woking 0 Luton Town 1
Now attacking their own supporters in the Leslie Gosden Stand, Woking made a number of changes as the second half kicked off. Garry Hill opted for the introduction of Max Kretzschmar, Charlie Penney, Chike Kandi, Charles Banya, Charlie Carter and Delano Sam-Yorke. Making way were Jake Caprice, Ben Gordon, Fabio Saraiva, Nathan Ralph, Gozie Ugwu and Zac Ansah.
A stray punch by King opened the way for an early chance for Penney. However, his first time shot was blocked by Town defender Scott Cuthbert close to the goal line. At the other end Jones had to clear acrobatically after a Town cross had eluded most of the Cards defence.
Penney was again testing the Luton back four as another through ball found its way to him; only King’s quick thinking to rush out and collect stopped the new signing from getting his shot away.
However, the Cards spell of pressure paid off in the 63rd minute when some good running from Kandi down the right flank forced the ball out for a corner. Taken by Saraiva and flicked on by Penney, Charlie Carter found himself in the right place near the back post to be able to coolly slot past King for a Cards equaliser.
Just a few minutes later, Luton thought that they had restored their lead. McQuoid met a cross and headed low and powerful at the Cards goal. However, an excellent one handed save from Poke low to his right palmed the ball around the post.
Woking responded with some good football in and out of the wings. One move fell to Jones whose effort was only prevented by a strong block from Musonda.
A late substitution for the Hatters saw a change of goalkeeper with Liam Gooch enjoying a spell in goal. A through ball for Penney sent him clear but Gooch was alert enough to rush out and steal the ball away from Penney.
By the end both sides appeared to have been given a good work out. Luton should be commended for having brought a side that offered the Cards plenty of respect. They played quick, fast passing football and the Cards appeared to match them for most of the game. Though ultimately a pre-season friendly, Garry Hill should take heart from many encouraging performances in his side as the Vanarama National League season fast approaches.
Woking: First Half
Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Ben Gordon, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Fabio Saraiva, Dennon Lewis, Keiran Murtagh, Gozie Ugwu, Zac Ansah, Nathan Ralph
Woking: Second Half
Michael Poke, Chike Kandi, Charles Banya, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Charlie Carter, Max Kretzschmar, Dennon Lewis, Keiran Murtagh, Charlie Penney, Delano Sam-Yorke
Sub not used: Brandon Hall
Goal: Charlie Carter (63)
Luton Town: Craig King (Liam Gooch 75), Frankie Musonda, Scott Cuthbert (James Justin 63), Akia Famewo, Cameron McJannett, Glen Rea (Olly Lee 63), Zane Banton, Tyreeq Bakinson (Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu 67), Jordan Cook, Josh McQuoid (Cameron McGeehan 67), Isaac Vassell (Freddie Hinds 75)
Goal: Josh McQuoid (25 pen)
Subs not used: Stephen O’Donnell, Dan Potts, Jonathan Smith, Jonny Mullins, Danny Hylton, Jack Marriott, Alan Sheehan
First Half – Ben Gordon: Some excellent work at both ends of the field. Often one step ahead when sensing danger from Luton attacks down the wing. Also provided many of the through balls that set up the Cards for good opportunities to strike
Second Half – Charlie Penney: His presence instantly put Luton’s midfield on the back foot and found himself able to exploit the gaps. Was at the heart of many of the Cards second half efforts with a crucial touch in the lead up to the Cards goal