Dover Athletic 1 Woking 2
FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
20 November 2010
The question lurking in Woking fans’ minds before this game was whether the Cards would suffer a post-Cup reaction or take strength and confidence from their displays against Brighton. To the players’ immense credit, it was soon evident at Crabble that it was the latter, as the Cards produced, especially in the first half, some of the best, passing football seen for a long time, capped by two superbly-worked and finished goals, both netted by Jerome Federico (pictured). Dover made life more difficult in the second half and reduced the deficit with a penalty but the Cards saw out the game in determined fashion to secure a thoroughly-deserved place in the next round. The only disappointment of the afternoon was that so few Cards fans had made the trip to Dover.
Graham Baker started with the same side that had begun against Brighton in midweek but with Lee Sawyer replacing Francis Quarm in midfield. Sawyer immediately impressed in an advanced midfield role, showing excellent control and time on the ball and using it constructively. Behind him the defence settled straightaway with Joe McNerney winning everything in the air and he and Adam Doyle getting their foot in to frustrate the Dover forwards. Ahead of them Mark Ricketts snapped into tackles and Jerome Maledon worked energetically, while Federico and Moses Ademola provided the outlet as Sawyer worked the ball out wide and Elvis Hammond always looked a threat.
In a sign of things to come Sawyer moved the ball out left to Federico in the 7th minute but this time the young loanee’s strike was weak, causing no trouble for the Dover keeper, Flitney. The Whites threatened briefly as Baker found himself in space on the Woking right but he blasted high and wide.
Woking upped the pressure after Hammond had cleverly won the first of two corners and a very assured first quarter of an hour was rounded off with a delightful goal, as Sawyer slid the ball behind the full back, for Federico, making an excellent run in from the left flank, to finish adroitly past Flitney.
A couple of minutes later it was 2-0 to the Cards following another excellent move. This time Sawyer and Maledon moved the ball out wide to Ademola on the right. He skipped down the wing before firing in a fine, low cross, which Federico controlled superbly before shooting past Flitney for his second goal of the afternoon.
Dover’s attempted fight-back began with a shot from Tabiri in the 18th minute which spun awkwardly out of Andy Little’s hands and over the bar. Olly Shulz threatened from the corner but McNerney and Doyle combined to see him off.
A short corner routine, with the ball then moved sweetly by Ricketts and Doyle, opened up another shooting opportunity for Federico but the strike this time lacked power.
Dover exerted some concerted pressure midway through the half but the Cards defended stubbornly and nearly profited from a quick break involving Sawyer and Federico.
The Cards’ next real chance came in the 36th minute when a penetrating run by Federico was followed by a cross to Hammond to the right of the Dover area but Flitney got his positioning right and pushed the Woking striker’s shot away for a corner. As the corner came over McNerney rose highest but his header was over the bar.
The clever Birchall did well to create space for himself on the edge of the Woking area in the 40th minute but his shot was easily saved by Little. Woking then came close to adding a third as Maledon headed just wide.
Half-time: Dover Athletic 0 Woking 2
It was no great surprise to see the home side make a determined effort early in the second half to get back in the game, and the Cards found it harder to maintain their splendid passing game of the first half, although at times they managed to blunt Dover’s momentum by skilfully keeping possession for substantial periods.
L’Anson tried a long-range effort in the 51st minute but Hammond immediately found himself in a good position in the box after Maledon had played him in. Unfortunately, he seemed to want too much time and he was soon tackled.
Dover came close to pulling a goal back in the 56th minute when L’Anson, given too much space on the Woking left, crossed for Hunt to glance narrowly wide.
Graham Baker, no doubt trying to spread the workload with another game to follow on Tuesday, began to make changes, bringing on Ola Sogbanmu for Ademola, who’d just been booked, soon followed by Quarm for Maledon.
In the meantime Little had been forced to make an excellent save from Birchall and then save again as the Dover forward fired in the rebound.
Dover got their breakthrough in the 69th minute when Ricky Anane was adjudged to have committed a foul just inside the area. Hunt duly converted.
With Dave Gilroy now on for Hammond, the game was nicely balanced as Dover pressed for an equaliser and Woking had quite a few chances to seal the game on the break. Flitney nearly threw the game away for the home side, passing the ball out to Anane. But the latter’s chip was over the bar. A few minutes later an excellent move saw Aswad Thomas advance into the box but he was just caught as he readied himself to shoot.
As we moved into the final ten minutes the Woking defence continued to frustrate the Dover attackers, while Gilroy slipped a neat pass to Quarm but the midfielder’s effort was blocked.
A Dover cross-cum-shot landed on top of the bar before the Cards had a very narrow escape, a deflected shot from Birchall cannoning off the post.
The Cards saw out the four minutes of extra time fairly comfortably, largely keeping the ball down the Dover end. Anane might have wrapped things up as he made a run from right to left across the box but tried to pass instead of shooting with his weaker, left foot and the chance was gone. Sawyer epitomised a tremendous Woking display with a crunching tackle to break up an attempted Dover break.
This was an admirable Woking performance on many levels, including some great football in the first half. It’s a lot to ask after such an exhausting schedule but if they can play like this in the next few league games they will surely begin to move up the table.
Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Moses Ademola (Ola Sogbanmu 60), Jerome Maledon (Francis Quarm 63), Elvis Hammond (Dave Gilroy 72), Lee Sawyer, Jerome Federico
Unused subs: Craig Faulconbridge, Daniel Sintim
Booked: Mark Ricketts, Moses Ademola
My MOTM: Lee Sawyer