Woking 2 Bromley 1
Vanarama National League
29th November 2016
Fabio Saraiva’s goal of the season contender earned Woking a deserved victory over Bromley on a freezing cold Tuesday night at the Laithwaite Community Stadium, the Cards third victory in their last four league games.
Despite their opponents coming into the game off the back of a five game unbeaten run, the hosts edged a close-fought encounter throughout, and deservedly snatched victory ten minutes from time after Saraiva brilliantly picked out the top right hand corner from more than 25 yards out.
Gozie Ugwu had earlier given Woking a first-half lead, scoring his seventh goal in four games with a fine header from Frazer Shaw’s cross, only for Bromley’s leading scorer Blair Turgott to cancel out the opener from the penalty spot just two minutes later.
Both teams fought hard to find a winner in a game of few clear chances, but ultimately it needed a moment of magic from Saraiva to settle the match, and earn the Cards a little bit of revenge for the cruel late defeat they had suffered against the same opponents earlier in the season.
Garry Hill and Steve Thompson will no doubt have come away from the game delighted, not just with the three points, but also with the mental toughness their young team showed. The hosts, missing midfield talisman Keiran Murtagh through injury and anchor man Joey Jones following his fifth yellow card of the season, refused to settle for a point as the game wore on – having already fought back well after losing their first-half lead so quickly.
Woking made four changes to the team that beat Gateshead three days earlier, with Frankie Sutherland and Charlie Carter replacing Jones and Murtagh in midfield, while Chike Kandi and Delano Sam-Yorke returned in place of Dennon Lewis and Ismail Yakubu, with the latter dropping to the bench. The Cards lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Kandi on the right, Ugwu in the middle, and Sam-Yorke making a rare start from the left in the three-man frontline. Academy players George Brown and Aaron Smith-Joseph were promoted to the bench.
The game started slowly and the first half an hour passed almost without incident. Bromley full-back Joe Anderson created the visitors best opening as he got forward down the Woking right and struck a hard low cross straight through the six-yard box, with Shaw fortunate not to turn the ball into his own net at the back-post. At the other end, a Sutherland shot which stung the palms of former Stevenage goalkeeper Alan Julian was as close as either side had come.
Shortly after the 30 minute mark however, and the game did belatedly burst into life. Sutherland, arguably the stand-out player thus far, dispossessed a Bromley player just inside his own half and surged forward. After quickly making his way into the visitor’s territory he set Shaw free down the left, and the full-back delivered an inch-perfect cross for the arriving Ugwu, who merely had to stoop to flick the ball past Julian and complete a scintillating Woking counter attack.
Sadly, within moments of the restart and with fans still revelling in Ugwu’s thirteenth goal of an increasingly impressive debut season, Bromley were awarded a penalty – Sutherland, at the centre of so much good just a handful of seconds ago, sliding in recklessly to concede one of the most blatant spot kicks the Laithwaite has seen for many a year – there could be no complaints. Turgott, with five goals in his last eight league games, made no mistake with the penalty – although was perhaps a little fortunate to see his low effort squirm under the body of a diving Brandon Hall.
Half-time: Woking 1 Bromley 1
Despite Bromley’s impressive recent record, as well as the momentum taken from scoring the equaliser, it was the Cards who started the second-half on the front foot – Saraiva testing Julian with a decent long-range effort, before Sam-Yorke volleyed over after a neat flick on from Ugwu.
The chances continued to come steadily for the home side – another excellent cross from Shaw picking out Ugwu in the penalty area, only for the Woking striker to fail to hit the target from inside the area – a particularly rare occurrence on current form. Sadly, the same could not be said for Sam-Yorke, without a league goal since the 1st October, who moments later did brilliantly to work himself room for a shot coming in off the left, only to sky his effort well over the crossbar.
Woking continued to push on as the game reached its final twenty minutes – Anthony Edgar, on in place of Kandi, doing well to hold the ball up on the edge of the area and allowing Jake Caprice to take the ball off his toe and drive on into the penalty area – the full-back forcing a fine save from Julian, who dived down low to his left to turn the ball around the post for a corner.
With a little less than ten minutes remaining the home side’s pressure finally earned its reward.
It had been interesting to note that Bromley had spent much of the game with two left-sided players working in tandem to try to nullify the attacking threat of Caprice on the right, proving that the Lilywhites management team – led by former Card Neil Smith – had at least partially done their homework. However, what they had failed to notice in their research was the fact that, given time and space, Woking’s other biggest weapon so far this season – the left boot of Fabio Saraiva – will only be too happy to have a shot from distance. And so, not for the first time season, it proved as the Portuguese let fly and saw the ball whistle into the top corner, barely brushing Julian’s despairing glove on the way into the net – sending the Kingfield Road End into hysterics. Saraiva, now with 11 goals in all competitions this season, promptly named ‘Man of the Match’.
The Woking faithful might have had more to cheer late on, were it not for Julian producing another decent save to prevent Edgar’s stoppage time free-kick making it three. At the other end, Hall remained fairly untroubled, with only Turgott’s long range effort giving him anything to think about.
All in all, a thoroughly professional performance by the Cards on a night when it could have been easy to excuse a much less determined and committed performance – without key players and with the prospect of an enticing FA Cup second round clash with Accrington Stanley just a handful of days away. There were a number of stand-out performers: Ugwu starred once again up front as he led the line superbly, Sutherland produced his best performance in a Woking shirt in the absence of Murtagh, Caprice and Shaw were excellent once again on the flanks, while Terell Thomas deserves mention for his thoroughly effective defensive performance alongside Brian Saah.
Garry Hill’s side will now go into Sunday’s game full of confidence, having made it seven wins in 14 home games this season – with only four defeats. Stanley meanwhile, sit just three points above the League 2 relegation zone after a run of six games without a win, and are without a victory on their travels since September. The odds will remain clearly in Accrington’s favour, but Woking’s chances of making the third round for the first time in almost two decades, are suddenly looking a lot more favourable. Please come down and cheer on the team if you possibly can!
Woking: Brandon Hall, Jake Caprice, Frazer Shaw, Terell Thomas, Brian Saah (c), Frankie Sutherland, Charlie Carter, Fabio Saraiva (Ismail Yakubu 88), Chike Kandi (Anthony Edgar 67), Delano Sam-Yorke, Gozie Ugwu.
Subs not used: George Brown, Aaron Smith-Joseph, Michael Poke
Goals: Gozie Ugwu 31, Fabio Saraiva 81
Bromley: Alan Julian, Dan Johnson, Joe Anderson, Ben Chorley, Jack Holland, Lee Minshull (Louis Dennis 84), Connor Dymond, Blair Turgott, Dave Martin (Jordan Higgs 76), Tobi Sho-Silva, George Porter (Adam Cunnington 56).
Sus not used: Jordan Wynter, Reece Prestedge
Goals: Blair Turgott 34
Bookings: Lee Minshull 60, Blair Turgott 90, Ben Chorley 90
Referee: Carl Brook
Sponsor's (Menzies) MOTM: Fabio Saraiva – the goal alone was enough to earn him the accolade. But as always the midfielder was full of running and endeavour, while he caught the eye with a number of excellent passes as he took advantage of the overlapping fullbacks.