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Cards live to fight another day

Brian Caffarey - 24th January 2015

Cards live to fight another day Woking 3 Dover Athletic 3
FA Trophy 3rd Round
24 January 2015

Scott Rendell rescued the Cards with an injury-time strike in a game which gradually built up to a crescendo. Woking had taken an early lead through Chris Arthur but failed to press home their advantage at a time when Dover were looking out of sorts. Consequently, the Whites found their feet and equalised with a well-worked goal from Connor Essam. But Woking struck back just on half-time when Ross Lafayette was tripped in the box, with Scott Rendell converting from the spot. But Woking’s half-time lead was turned on its head shortly after the break when, first, Nick Deverdics slammed the ball home after the ball had been half-cleared and, second, the impressive Stefan Payne rocketed into the roof of the net following some more uncertain Cards’ defending. Dover fell back and tried to hold onto their 3-2 lead but were eventually undone by Rendell’s striking prowess. The two sides will now meet again at Crabble on Tuesday evening.

Garry Hill chose to start with both Scott Rendell and Ross Lafayette up front, with Charles Banya on the bench in (barring the departed Jack Marriott) an unchanged side from the eleven which had lined up against Bristol Rovers. The Cards were well on top in the early stages, with Lafayette showing up well, including registering a fine left-footed effort in the third minute. With Dover looking hesitant, the Cards continued to make most of the running, with John Goddard firing over the bar after Lafayette and Rendell had combined to slip him in on the right of the Dover area. Woking’s early pressure was rewarded in the 16th minute when Chris Arthur, picking up a ball cleared from a corner, drove forward between two Dover players to fire into the corner from outside the area.

Woking continued to look as though they might add to their lead but without any great sense of urgency. Kevin Betsy hooked a ball across for which Rendell challenged to earn a corner. Lafayette produced an excellent turn but his shot was scuffed. But Dover began to pick up their game from about the midpoint of the half and, for the first time, began to ask questions of the Woking defence. A lofted shot from Barry Cogan caused Jake Cole a little concern as he back-pedalled and then Tom Murphy found space on the Woking right to put in a cross which was just too deep. Dover’s resurgence was then rewarded in the 35th minute as Connor Essam did well to hold off John Goddard to direct a header wide of Jake Cole to equalise.

Just as it looked as though the two sides would go into the break on equal terms Lafayette seized on a ball to nod it on into the area and followed it up in determined fashion. It appeared that a Dover defender caught his heels and a penalty was awarded. Rendell sent the keeper the wrong way to leave Woking 2-1 up at the break.

Half-time: Woking 2 Dover Athletic 1

Woking were caught cold after the break as a resilient Dover side struck back to take a 3-2 lead. In the 48th minute Nick Deverdics latched onto a half-cleared corner, slamming the ball through a crowd of defenders into the far corner. Joe McNerney nearly scored at the other end as his downward header was punched clear. But back came Dover, with Stefan Payne rocketing the ball into the roof of the net after the ball bounced around the Woking area.

For a short period Dover continued to make the running as a shell-shocked Woking side came to terms with the fact that they now had to chase the game. Their uncertainty was reflected in passages of play which were marked by poor passing and a lack of invention. Gradually, however, Dover – perhaps fatally, in the end – allowed themselves to fall back to defend their one-goal lead. This was also reflected in the withdrawal of Stefan Payne and some blatant time-wasting. It began to be largely one-way traffic as the Cards pumped the ball forward in the direction of Rendell and Lafayette. When Dover cleared their lines, the ball almost invariably fell to James Clarke or Jake Cole, with the result that Woking resumed their attacks. Joe McNerney went agonisingly close as he got in a header from a Betsy cross, with Rendell also missing narrowly as he connected with an Arthur cross. Woking fans in the Leslie Gosden Stand were convinced that the equaliser had come in the 79th minute as Rendell shot, almost instinctively, from an excellent Gez Sole cross. Unbelievably, the ball struck the inside of the post only to spin out for a goal kick just beyond the other post.

The pressure ramped up as the game neared its conclusion. A Betsy effort was deflected narrowly wide with a minute to go on the clock. Well into the five minutes of added time Gez Sole fired a free-kick goalwards, Scott Rendell connected, the Dover keeper saved but Rendell, showing great determination, stooped to head the ball home to make it 3-3.

There was almost a final twist as McNerney only narrowly missed the target with a diving header from a Josh Payne free-kick, with Gez Sole also almost connecting at the far post.

A draw was a fair result on balance in a game which began slowly but gradually built up into a real cup tie. It was only when the Cards were behind that they looked as though they were really determined to keep their Wembley dreams alive.

Woking: Jake Cole, Adam Newton (Giuseppe Sole), Joe McNerney, James Clarke, Chris Arthur, Kevin Betsy, Josh Payne, Joey Jones (Keiran Murtagh), John Goddard (Charles Banya), Scott Rendell, Ross Lafayette

Unused subs: Mark Ricketts, Andy Little

Goals: Arthur 16, Rendell 44 (pen) and 90

Dover Athletic: Andrew Rafferty, Sean Raggett, Richard Orlu, Liam Bellamy, Tom Murphy, Barry Cogan (Tom Wynter), Stefan Payne (Jake Reid), Sean Francis, Tyrone Sterling, Connor Essam

Unused subs: Ricky Modeste, Solomon Taiwo, Mitch Walker

Goals: Essam 35, Deverdics 48, Payne 53

My MOTM: Joe McNerney

Attendance: 1167
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