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Kingfield rocks and so does Elvis!

Alan Worth - 17th November 2010

Kingfield rocks and so does Elvis! Woking 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 2 (0-3 on penalties)
FA Cup 1st Round Replay
16th November 2010

So Woking’s run in this year’s FA Cup finally came to an end after two magnificent performances against League One leaders Brighton. The Cards gave their league rivals an awful fright as they again proved that they could match Brighton and at times dominate this replay, taking a deserved lead during the first period of extra-time and only finally losing out to the heartache of a penalty shoot-out.

The four thousand fans who filled Kingfield on a misty and cold evening witnessed a pulsating cup encounter that had just about everything and will have recalled for many the magic of those cup runs almost twenty years ago. For this Woking performance was surely up with the best, as courageous, hard fought, emotional and at times almost magical as Graham Baker’s side so nearly pulled off what would have been another giant killing to rival those at Millwall and even West Brom.

Though the penalties were disappointing, the team in red and white had run themselves into the ground for 120 minutes and surely tired legs and the inevitable pressure of TV cameras, a large crowd and this final chance to secure a famous win finally took their toll. All three Woking penalties were missed and, as substitute Christian Baz rolled his penalty past Andy Little to secure Brighton’s passage into the next round, it was a chance to reflect on a proud Kingfield night.

Graham Baker again employed the same side and tactical formation that had worked so well at the Withdean with 'man of the match' Elvis Hammond (pictured) operating as a lone front man. And he proved a real handful for the Brighton defence, holding up the ball and providing the outlet that Woking needed with the inevitable early pressure from the visitors. It was Elvis who set up the Cards' first real chance after only nine minutes. In the first of many quick breaks down the right-hand side the striker’s ball across the Brighton box found Jerome Federico stretching at the far post but he couldn’t keep his shot down and from a tight angle the ball flew over the bar.

With Aswad Thomas and Ricky Anne raiding down both flanks and creating problems for the Brighton defence, the League side were not having things all their own way. Again Hammond beat his marker and saw his shot just turned round the post by Brezovan. From the resulting corner there was panic in the visitors' box but somehow the ball was scrambled away.

On 24 minutes Andy Little was called into action as he made a save to his right as Bennett connected with a good ball in from the left. Almost immediately the Seagulls had another chance. This time Kishishev volleyed over after a chipped pass had got him, for once, behind the Woking defence. Another long ball over the top picked out Barnes but his first touch was poor and the chance was gone. And on 40 minutes Andy Little made another great save to foil Sparrow, who turned in the box and got a dangerous shot away.

Woking had a final chance of the half as Hammond picked out Moses Ademola but he was challenged before shooting and, despite the crowd’s call for a penalty, the ball was cleared.

Half-time: Woking 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

The second period began with a period of concerted Brighton pressure. A dangerous free-kick from Bennett was headed wide of Little’s post and, shortly after, a second free-kick put in Dicker but his shot was horribly miscued.

Federico had an opportunity after collecting the ball from a superb Ricketts challenge but the young midfielder chose to shoot from long range when a pass might have been the better option. And then from a Ricketts free-kick, Ademola found himself with a great opportunity in front of a gaping goal but he needed two touches to control the ball and a desperate Brighton lunge was enough to clear the danger.

On 57 minutes the deadlock was finally broken. A long ball in from Taricco on the left was headed down for Sparrow to score from close range. Many might have thought that would be that but this Woking side were not prepared to give up the fight. Roared on by their magnificent fans and with Ola Sogbanmu on for Federico, the Cards began to create their own chances and force the League side onto the back foot.

First, a great ball from Joe McNerney almost set up Elvis Hammond. A minute later Quarm volleyed wide from a knock-down and a Ricketts free-kick was safely collected by Brezovan.

But on 72 minutes some great skill from Elvis Hammond had the Cards back level. The striker collected a Thomas throw and wriggled his way up the bye line. His ball into the box created havoc and the resulting scramble ended in Greer finding his own net as the Seagulls desperately tried to clear. It was no more than Woking deserved.

It was now all Woking as Ademola began to find space down the right-hand side. Sogbanmu headed over a Thomas cross after great work again from Hammond and a Moses pull-back found Mark Ricketts but his left-foot shot was wide. With three minutes remaining, another shot from Ademola was saved before he was substituted for Craig Faulconbridge.

In the dying minutes, however, it was Brighton who had the chance to win it. Sparrow volleyed over from six yards and then Taricco was clean through but his squared ball was to no one.

Full time: Woking 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1

The first period of extra time was breathless stuff. With twelve minutes gone Ola Sogbanmu headed home Charlie Turnbull’s corner – the young midfielder having replaced Quarm after 72 minutes. But two minutes later Bennett’s powerfull strike had found the back of the Cards' net and produced an equaliser. Controversy followed as Taricco was booked for a second time and the League side were down to ten men.

As the inevitable tiredness set in, Woking were unable to capitalise on their advantage, although there was still time for Ricky Anane to show his pace down the right, his cross agonisingly not finding a teammate to convert the chance.

And so to penalties and the final desperate disappointment. Murray, Sparrow and Baz converted their chances and despite Battipiedi’s miss all Woking’s first three efforts failed to find the net.

But this Woking team can hold their heads high – this is a night that will be remembered for many years, a night that showed many of the Cards’ more recent converts what this Club and the FA Cup are all about. It’s been a long time coming but somehow it was almost worth the wait to see Kingfield rocking again!

Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Moses Ademola (Craig Faulconbridge 89), Jerome Maledon, Elvis Hammond, Francis Quarm (Charlie Turnbull 72), Jerome Federico (Ola Sogbanmu 56)

Unused subs: Dave Gilroy, Daniel Sintim, Matt Pegler, Ollie Palmer

Brighton & HA: Brezovan, Greer, Elphick, Bennett, Barnes (Murray 58), Sparrow, Calderon, Hart (Baz 96), Dicker, Kishishev (Battipiedi 58), Taricco

Unused subs: El-Abd, Poke, Painter, Smith

MOTM: Elvis Hammond

Attendance: 4193

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