9th September 2010
Ryman Youth League
Tuesday 7th September 2010
Report by James Chadwick
Woking U18s started off their home league campaign with a well-earned victory against London side, Barnet. Woking bagged an important three points come the final whistle, but for most of the game, the points could have gone either way, with both teams having a number of good chances.
The Cards started the match on the front foot and set about pinning their opponents into their own half for the opening exchanges, with some good build-up play promising much. Frustrating their opposition, the home side forced a free kick early on but Jack Mazzone’s low driven effort failed to trouble the Barnet ‘keeper. Woking maintained their pressure early in the first half, with forwards Mazzone and Frith combining well and creating some good goal scoring opportunities. Yet it wasn’t all going the home side’s way, as the fast-paced Barnet forwards looked ominous on the counter-attack and Cards stopper, Kennedy had to be at his best to turn over a powerful effort.
Despite their dominance of possession, though, Woking seemed unable to capitalise. Two poorly-struck efforts from close range, proving testament to this, and midway through the first half it really was a story of Woking’s wasted chances. Whilst the forwards were creating chances, the backline remained solid, with Josh Frost-Niven keeping his defensive line resolute. There were further chances for Woking to take the lead before the interval. The best of these was a low driven cross from the byline that raced across the goal mouth begging for a decisive touch. It was a move straight off the training ground; the finishing was perhaps not.
Half Time: Woking 0 Barnet 0
After the interval Barnet came out looking the more focussed of the two teams, digging their teeth in early on and going in search of victory. This was highlighted in a nervous moment for the Cards defenders as they struggled to clear away a goalmouth scramble, eventually clearing scrappily. Barnet continued in their attacking endeavours for the opening ten minutes of the second half and it wasn’t until Woking made two substitutions within two minutes (Hicks & Reay off, Mukassa & Alderman on), that the Barnet dominance started to wane. The substitutes applied themselves well, with Mukassa looking a threat from the off. Just minutes after coming on he made a good run down the wing, floating in a well-hit cross - but unfortunately the Cards attackers couldn’t get on the end of it.
Mazzone and Frith continued where they left off with their competent partnership and were again creating some good combination play. Yet halfway through the second half Barnet had a great chance to take the lead, with their forward making room for a shot from the edge of the box. A well-hit effort was smothered low on the dive by Kennedy, keeping Woking in the game. Soon after, the Cards replaced Shane Cheeseman with Adam Bicknell, and it appeared that the fresh legs had an impact, as two minutes later Woking took the lead through Mazzone, who this time pounced on a cross deep into the Barnet box, slotting past a helpless ‘keeper. Bicknell seemed to take no time at all to get into the game and, just five minutes after coming on, played in a ball across the box but this time neither Mazzone or Frith could get close to it.
Woking were now playing with confidence, spreading the play well and were perhaps unlucky not to double their lead when Frith’s header landed on the roof of the net. A hopeful header from Mazzone that sailed over the crossbar was to be the home side’s last real opportunity of the game as they attempted to hold their lead. That task, however, was made difficult by the visitors, who threw men forward in the latter part of the game. The away side asked questions of the Cardinals' defence, but fortunately they had the answers.
There was a scare when Barnet played a good pass across the box, but Frost-Niven stepped in to clear well. With just ten minutes to go before the final whistle, the Bees’ attacks were coming thick and fast. Another nervous moment saw a free-kick reeled in well by Kennedy and only two minutes later Woking were granted a real let-off as Barnet somehow failed to convert a simple header on the back post and for the first time in the game the home side’s marking looked suspect. The visitors spurned further chances, though: a fiercely-struck free-kick flying over the crossbar and another shot went wide. Somehow Woking survived the onslaught and took the important three points at home. The young Cards owed a lot to their stern defence, who kept an attack-minded opposition side at bay and will hope to carry this into their next game against Fleet Town.
Man of the match: Josh Frost-Niven – He led a miserly defence well, keeping Barnet at bay, defending a narrow lead and made some decisive challenges to deny the opposition
Woking: Jordan Kennedy, Aaron Turner, Phil Moore, Josh Frost-Niven (C), Jon Coussens, Shane Cheeseman, Conor Close, Jack Mazzone, George Frith, Jake Hicks
Subs: Adam Bicknell. Jordan Mukassa, Ryan Alderman
The u18s are next at home on Tuesday 14th September, against Fleet Town.