Dover Athletic 3 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
22 November 2016
Garry Hill may have hoped that choosing the same side that won so handsomely at Maidstone United would bring a repeat performance but he found himself sadly disappointed. It was back to the Ďoldí Woking, with some calamitous defending making it easy for a tough, powerful, disciplined, efficient Dover side, who always looked to have the competitive edge. Two, fairly scruffy, goals separated the sides at half-time, but, immediately after the break, the Cards threw away any chance of getting back into the game with some dreadful defending. Gozie Ugwu pulled a goal back but it never looked likely that it would inspire a comeback.
The only change for the Cards was on the substitutesí bench, where Dennon Lewis came in for Anthony Edgar. Dover were missing top scorer, Ricky Miller, which was probably just as well from the Cardsí point of view because his replacement, Ross Lafayette, helped himself to two goals. Heaven knows how many Miller might have grabbed. To rub salt into the wounds, the Whitesí other scorer was another ex-Card, Moses Emmanuel.
The Cards started shakily, with Lafayette immediately threatening and Terrell Thomas and Brandon Hall on different wavelengths as the former sliced the ball onto the roof of the net. A fierce Sam Magri effort produced a second corner. Woking countered a few minutes later with Jake Capriceís first run down the right producing a fine, whipped-in cross, which no Woking forward could reach, however. This was the first of several such crosses, all producing the same result. In contrast, there was little attacking threat down the left-hand side saving the odd foray there from Keiran Murtagh or Luke Kandi. It was Kandi who executed a clever turn and pull back to Murtagh, but the Cards skipper could only blast it high and very wide.
Aside from Caprice, the Cardsí other main threat came from Fabio Saraiva, who, as the half went on, fired in a couple of characteristic left-footed efforts from distance. The aggressive Lafayette and Emmanuel posed more of a continuing threat at the other end with their combination of power and pace. Emmanuel, in the 18th minute, hit a loose ball well over but two minutes later the home side went in front. The Cardsí defence failed to clear the ball in a scramble in the box. It was scooped to the far post where Lafayette, unmarked, had the relatively simple task of nodding it in.
After another Emmanuel effort had gone wide the Cards began to look as though they might make a real game of it as they created several promising attacks. Joey Jones did well to chest down a Saraiva free-kick but then elaborated instead of shooting first time. Kandi almost latched onto a short back-pass. A Murtagh back-heel freed Caprice for another fine cross and Saraiva fired in a well-executed volley Ė unfortunately straight at the keeper. And yet another cross whizzed past the goalmouth.
But just as one was beginning to think that it was turning into a fairly even contest and how vital it would be for the Cards to go into the break only a goal down, Dover doubled their lead. A long throw in the 42nd minute led to more confusion in the Woking area and, in spite of vociferous claims for offside from the Woking players, Lafayette and Emmanuel combined for the latter to poke the ball home beyond Hall.
Before half-time came Emmanuel had the chance to add another goal, scampering down the Woking left only to hammer the ball over the bar.
Half-time: Dover Athletic 2 Woking 0
At 2-0 down it looked a very tough, but not impossible, task for Garry Hillís side to get something from the game. But all hopes were immediately dashed. An innocuous free-kick was lofted forward just outside the Woking area. Lafayette, completely unchallenged, had all the time in the world to bring it down and, almost in slow motion, take it forward and slot it past Hall. Game effectively over.
For a few minutes the Woking side rocked and it looked as though Dover might pile on the misery. Thomas and Jones were caught napping on the ball. Murtagh misplaced a simple pass and Dover were completely on top as they swarmed round the Woking players, winning almost every challenge.
Out of the blue, the Cards produced a goal and steadied the ship. In almost a repeat of his two goals at Maidstone the hard-working Ugwu headed a fine Caprice cross back across the keeper to make it 3-1 on 56 minutes.
Garry Hill brought on Ismail Yakubu for Thomas and Frankie Sutherland for Charlie Carter, followed fairly soon by Delano Sam-Yorke for Frazer Shaw. A short back pass by Saah almost allowed Dover in, while at the other end a glancing Sutherland header finished a nice move by Kandi and Saraiva, but it did not trouble the Dover keeper.
Dover piled on the pressure again around the 70 minute mark. Hall made a tremendous save from Pinnock before a fierce Stevenson effort was deflected for a corner and the same player then produced another piledriver.
Ugwu countered with a break down the Dover right but chose to chip the ball across when he looked to have had a shooting opportunity.
Hall impressed again with a fine save, with Saraiva doing just enough to prevent the rebound being gobbled up, the deflected strike going inches wide of the post.
The Cards had a great chance to reduce the deficit in the 77th minute when Caprice made a penetrating run through the middle and hit a swerving, low drive which the Dover keeper could only fumble, but Sam-Yorke, sliding in, put the ball wide of the post.
Thereafter the Whites saw the game out pretty comfortably. Sutherland threatened as he made space for himself but saw his shot drift wide of the post. And Yakubuís wayward back pass almost presented Dover with a fourth goal, Hall just managing to clear.
This was a disappointing performance by Garry Hillís side. Dover were always likely to present a more demanding challenge than Maidstone did on Saturday but the Cards did not really rise to it, generally looking second best in terms of determination, aggression and self-belief and, crucially, allowing defensive frailties to resurface. The team now have to concentrate on gaining some points from two difficult home games: against Gateshead on Saturday and Bromley on Tuesday.
Dover Athletic: Steve Arnold, Sam Magri, Aswad Thomas, Richard Orlu, Jim Stevenson, Mitchell Pinnock, Jamie Grimes, Tyrone Sterling, Moses Emmanuel (Joe Healy 83), Sammy Moore (Chris Kinnear Jnr 84), Ross Lafayette
Unused subs: Mitch Walker, Jack Parkinson, Ira Jackson Jnr
Goals: Ross Lafayette 20, 42; Moses Emmanuel 26
Booking: Chris Kinnear Jnr
Woking: Brandon Hall, Jake Caprice, Frazer Shaw (Delano Sam-Yorke 64) , Terrell Thomas, Brian Saah (Ismail Yakubu 58), Joey Jones, Keiran Murtagh, Fabio Saraiva, Charlie Carter (Frankie Sutherland 58), Gozie Ugwu, Luke Kandi
Unused subs: Andy Little, Dennon Lewis
Goal: Gozie Ugwu 56
My Woking MOTM: Jake Caprice (pictured)