Woking 0 Boreham Wood 0
Vanarama National League
11 March 2017
The Cards slipped back into the relegation places this afternoon, Torquay United’s away win at Southport taking them above Garry Hill’s side on goal difference. Torquay – like Maidstone United, two points above – have a game in hand, so the Cards’ position looks even more perilous potentially. With two away games, at Gateshead and Braintree Town, coming up, the Cards could desperately do with an upturn in their miserable away form before they meet Maidstone in what looks like a crucial encounter on 25 March.
The Cards and the Wood took the field in warm sunshine, more like May than March, though it did cloud over later. Delano Sam-Yorke, the subject of a failed bid from Maidstone following his loan spell there, started up front with Gozie Ugwu, Max Kretzschmar making way. Keiran Murtagh returned to midfield and, perhaps surprisingly, Joey Jones found himself on the bench, alongside the new loan signing, 17-year-old striker Ben Morris from Ipswich Town. For the visitors, on a recent poor run of form, Mark Ricketts filled his usual midfield defensive role, whilst the mercurial Bruno Andrade was among the substitutes.
An incident-free opening, with neither side able to string more than a few passes together, presaged much of what was to follow in the first half. There was no lack of effort or commitment from Garry Hill’s charges, as some effective defensive work attested, but the Wood seemed to be more successful in gaining the second ball, with the wily Kenny Davis always prominent.
It was a good 15 minutes before the Cards mounted anything resembling a flowing attacking move, but Chris Arthur’s pull-back was behind the strikers and there was no one moving into space. The next ten minutes produced a couple of half-chances for Boreham Wood, with a cross just eluding Davis at the far post and Ben Nunn putting a free header well wide.
Around the half-hour mark the Cards put a better spell of play together. A decent cross from Keiran Murtagh, looking a little rusty after his lay-off, led to a couple of corners, but these were well defended by the solid Wood defence. Another corner was gained from nice interplay between Murtagh and Fabio Saraiva but Murtagh’s ballooned effort from the clearance ended that period of play.
As usual, Woking relied heavily on Jake Caprice for an attacking outlet but, in the opening half at least, he was not able to make much headway.
A poor half ended with a somewhat reckless Murtagh pass out of defence being intercepted, Davis then putting a free header over the bar in what was probably the best chance of the game to date.
Half-time: Woking 0 Boreham Wood 0
The second half started in a similar vein with Ismail Yakubu’s optimistic attempt to find Caprice leading to a Wood attack which ended with Femi Ilesanmi shooting well over.
But the mood changed suddenly as Woking produced a classy attacking move. An excellent break out of defence saw Caprice feed Saraiva in the centre, who flicked on to Kane Ferdinand, arriving in the box. The midfielder connected well but the Wood keeper, Grant Smith, produced a fine save to deny him.
The Cards continued to press as Caprice was fouled just to the left of the area. Saraiva’s free-kick was ferocious but was always going just too high to trouble Smith. Caprice then went on a terrific run, jinking his way into the box before his shot was blocked. The spell of pressure ended with a Murtagh effort which flew high over the bar.
The visitors brought on Bruno Andrade and Angelo Balanta for Tom Hitchcock and Jason Williams about 20 minutes into the half, with Balanta soon in action, blasting high and wide.
The busy Caprice ran out of room in another foray down the right flank before a hobbling Mark Ricketts left the field to warm applause from home and away fans alike, Ricky Shakes taking his place.
As the game opened up, a Wood break looked ominous as both Davis and Nunn were left unmarked for a cross to the far post. Fortunately, Davis fluffed his effort, with Balanta, following up, shooting just wide of Michael Poke’s far post.
With some 15 minutes to go, Garry Hill brought on Kretzschmar for Saraiva and Morris for Sam-Yorke, who had worked hard but who had not been given even a sniff of goal by a dominant Wood defence.
It was Terell Thomas, again having an excellent game at the back, who now seemed likeliest to create an opening as he strode forward on a couple of occasions, but Ugwu strayed offside for the final pass in the box, while another attack petered out.
It was then Caprice’s turn once more to threaten as he made a thrilling run out of defence, ending again with a blocked effort on goal.
As Woking pressed forward, they began to look more vulnerable at the back. A clever piece of quick footwork by Andrade led to a shot which was blocked at the near post and then Arthur managed to clear off the line a follow-up from Balanta.
After a couple of Wood corners, thankfully survived, Woking attacked in a promising interplay between Ugwu and Morris but, as so often, the move broke down on the edge of the area.
Into four minutes of added time, a loose clearance by Brian Saah led to a final Wood corner. A goal looked certain as an almighty scramble ensued in the Woking box but, somehow, the ball was cleared and the Cards emerged with a point still intact.
This was a game which the Cards might have won but, equally, they might well have lost it at the death. A point was probably fair but a win was what was really needed in Woking’s situation.
Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Terell Thomas, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu (Joey Jones 79), Chris Arthur, Kane Ferdinand, Keiran Murtagh, Fabio Saraiva (Max Kretzschmar 75), Gozie Ugwu, Delano Sam-Yorke (Ben Morris 75)
Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Charlie Carter
Boreham Wood: Grant Smith, Ben Nunn, Danny Woodards, Mark Ricketts (Ricky Shakes 72), Matt Paine, David Stephens, Kenny Davis, Tom Hitchcock (Bruno Andrade 64), Femi Ilesanmi, Jason Williams (Angelo Balanta 64), Joe Devera
Unused substitutes: Jai Reason, Ben Goodliffe
Sponsor’s (CKL Builders) MOTM: Keiran Murtagh (pictured)