Josh Boothroyd - 21st February 2017
Woking 3 Knaphill 1
Surrey Senior Cup Quarter Final
21st February 2017
A much changed Woking side made hard work of beating resilient Combined Counties outfit Knaphill, in front of 484 spectators, on what was a fairly mild night at the Laithwaite Community Stadium. Woking - having won 4 and draw 1 of their last 7, only losing to high flyers Tranmere and Lincoln - went into this game as strong favourites and the divide of 4 leagues was to be reflected by the final score, though a determined Knaphill team at times scared Woking, coming off a poor 0-0 on Saturday. Knaphill made Woking work hard for their goals and looked good coming off a 4-match winless run in the league, giving their large away following a goal to savour in what was the first competitive match between the two sides.
Woking made 9 changes to the side that faced Southport, only retaining Crawley Town loanee Chris Arthur and Max Kretzschmar in the starting eleven. Used substitutes Connor Hall, Dennon Lewis and Macauley Bonne and unused substitutes Charlie Carter and Brandon Hall from the dull stalemate all made the line-up, with Woking fans happy to see the return of defensive brick wall Brian Saah from injury. Knaphill managed by Keith Hills, made 4 changes to his starting eleven that lost to Hartley Wintney bringing in Shelley, Norman, McKinley and Close.
Woking kept possession early on until, after just 90 seconds, Knaphill produced the first half chance of the game, but no Knappers players could reach the swinging cross from the left hand side. Woking endured a relaxing spell of possession and after being awarded a corner which was cleared well by a Knaphill defence that was sitting deep, conjured up the first goal of the game with just 5 minutes on the clock. As the ball was smuggled to a well-positioned Kretzschmar on the edge of the box, Connor Hall cleverly waited on the six yard line and was there to break the deadlock, slotting into the corner after a good save was pushed into his path.
Woking were already beginning to pick holes in the defence and just two minutes after the goal created another clear cut chance, which was unfortunately wasted. After clever build-up play, the ball was put into the path of Connor Hall who squared to Bonne but - with the goal gaping in front of him - could only put it wide for what would have been his first goal for the club. Woking looked in control and continued to put pressure on Richard Shelley’s goal with a Charlie Carter snapshot which was saved comfortably. While they kept possession, it gave fans a chance to watch academy graduate Declan Appau in action and view his potential; he looked comfortable on the ball and was strong in the tackle matching the passion from Knaphill.
Woking continued to push forward but Knaphill remained stubborn and were now more of a tight-knit unit than they were in the first 10 minutes. They were now pressuring Woking in to taking shots from outside the area and efforts from Chike Kandi and Kretzschmar were saved well by the shot-stopping Shelley. Knaphill remained determined for the rest of the first half and won more of the fifty-fifty balls, looking stronger than most of their Woking opposition, although it was still Woking who created more chances with Carter heading just wide from a Kretzschmar corner and Connor Hall mustering a slow header into the arms of the keeper after effective build up from Lewis and Kandi down the right hand side.
After piles of Woking pressure, it was the turn of Knaphill to get some of the action. With half an hour gone a one-two between Timmy Taylor and Charlie Postance caused Woking problems but, like most of Knaphill’s crosses, no one was their to finish off the move.
Just after the half hour mark Saah seemed to hold strong presence Postance and a free kick was given by the referee, from which Knaphill created their first shot on target. The ball was delivered and managed to squirm its way through to the back post where Taylor’s shot was scuffed into the arms of Brandon Hall, his first significant contribution of the game.
It was a more exciting end to the half for Knaphill who were looking much better than they started but it was Woking who were still managing to make the transition from defence to attack look manageable. With 37 minutes gone, high-potential Carter intelligently looped the ball over to midfield maestro Kretzschmar, who overhead kicked it slowly into the palms of Shelley, and five minutes later Saah also gave the Knappers in grey another scare when following a clearance from a corner, he powered wide from the edge of the box. But it was in the 45th minute when Knaphill produced their best chance of the first half when following a Saah mistake 20 yards from goal, Josh Coke ran in one on one with Hall, shooting straight at the keeper, leading the referee to blow his whistle for half time.
Half-time: Woking 1 Knaphill 0
The start of the second half prompted a fairly prudent switch from manager Garry Hill who watched on in the Leslie Golden Stand, switching Saah for youngster George Brown, the centre back’s second appearance for the cards. It was Knaphill who came out showing more fight at the start of the second half of this quarter final - the furthest stage of the competition they’ve ever reached. The Knappers earned themselves a free kick with 47 minutes gone, which worried the woking defence but was eventually scrambled away, and then just two minutes later caused more problems between the Woking back line when attack-minded wing-back Timmy Taylor swung another great cross in, only for Postance to miss by fractions.
Knaphill’s pressure on Woking caused nervousness among the home fans so it came as great relief when Woking added a second with 50 minutes gone. When the ball was booted up from defence most people would've expected the ball to bounce into the gloves of the goalie but the pace of Kandi told and he managed to chase down the ball and keep play alive. Carter caught up with play and was handed the ball by Kandi on the left hand side of the box, leading to a beautifully struck curler into the bottom right hand corner and a deserved goal for the midfield controller, Woking’s joint-top scorer in the SSC this term.
This second goal didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the team from 3 miles down the road and they remained determined to grab a goal for the away fans to celebrate. On 58 minutes, after two strong challenges from Appau earned him a yellow card, Knaphill were awarded a free kick in a good position and almost took advantage when Jimmy Norman powered in a free kick only to be fumbled into the path of Taylor again, striking over when it looked easier to score. It was also the yellow card from young midfielder Appau which probably led to his substitution, but a fine performance from him was warmly applauded, as was the introduction of Frazer Shaw.
Woking powered forward looking for a third goal to bury the Knappers in the sand that covered the bobbly-looking pitch, and they continued to make the transition from defence to attack quickly and easily. After good work down the left between Lewis and Kandi, a cross was crisply delivered straight onto the head of Connor Hall, who hit the post leading to a rebound in to the track of Kandi, but he could only strike into the chest of Shelley who held on extremely well. Keith Hills recognised a change was needed and so bought on Josh Watkins to try and push the squad up. Woking also made a change taking off a tired-looking Kandi after a productive shift for Zak Ansah hoping to add more vigour to the attack.
Woking continued to pour forward showing no mercy to their opponents and with 70 minutes gone a wonderful crafted move was created by Ansah and Kretzschmar, with the latter gloriously crossing with the outside of the boot to Connor Hall who headed well only to be halted in his celebrations by another save by Shelley, whose saves kept Knaphill in the game all night.
Unfortunately for Knaphill, just a minute after the best save of the night, Woking went 3-0 up and put to bed any questions of a famous Knaphill comeback. After a string of passes down the left Chris Arthur delivered a fantastic, deep cross to the back post where hard-working Connor Hall sprinted through the defence and got to the front, instinctively heading across goal and bagging his second goal of the night, giving Garry something to think about for Forest Green.
After an easy spell for Woking, Knaphill kicked up a gear and brought on Scott Costello to add some energy to the side in the 75th minute. This substitution evidently helped the Knappers and just two minutes after his introduction, following a goalmouth scramble, cool-head Costello managed to show the impact he had on his team, back-heeling it into a empty net, the first goal Knaphill have scored against Woking in their history and giving the large away following something to cheer. The last 15 minutes brought up a big talking point in a game that now looked over, when Connor Hall appeared to be hacked down by the last man with the referee waving playing on, a controversial decision which could have led to a three match ban. For the last ten minutes Knaphill brought on Ethan Losty for Josh Coke in a decision which didn't create as much impact as the second substitution.
Unfortunately for Knaphill the score line remained at 3-1 and Woking now join Guildford City and Merstham in the semi-finals of a cup Garry Hill states is ‘a target’. Knaphill can leave knowing they did cause Woking problems and are the first Surrey Senior Cup side to score against Woking in this year’s competition. From a Woking point of view, it can be seen as a job well done and a game that can hopefully kick some more confidence into the side that need to win as many games going into the end of the season.
Woking: Brandon Hall, Dennon Lewis, Chris Arthur, Declan Appau (Frazer Shaw 58), Brian Saah (George Brown 46), Nathan Ralph, Max Kretzschmar, Charlie Carter, Macauley Bonne, Connor Hall, Chike Kandi (Zak Ansah 65)
Unused subs: Michael Poke, Kane Ferdinand
Goals: Connor Hall (5, 71), Carter (50)
Bookings: Declan Appau
Knaphill: Richard Shelley, Ross Cheek, Timmy Taylor, Jack Collins, Jamie Doble, Connor Close (Ethan Losty 80), Josh Coke (Josh Watkins 63), Robbie Kersley, Charlie Postance, Jimmy Norman, Eddie McKinley (Scott Costello 73)
Unused subs: Chris Patterson, Alex Harris
Goals: Costello (75)
Man of the Match: Connor Hall - Hard-working and scored a well deserved brace.