Woking 1 Dover Athletic 0
Vanarama National League
28th February 2017
Woking welcomed high-flying Dover Athletic to the Laithwaite Community Stadium on Tuesday night, looking for and securing a vital three points to help The Cards in their quest to steer clear of The National League relegation zone.
On a dry evening – with the temperature slightly milder than earlier in the day – Dover kicked towards the LGS off on a pitch that still appeared to be heavily damaged and unpredictable in places.
Compared with the starting line-up for the game at Forest Green Rovers, with Keiran Murtagh now suspended for 2 games, Brian Saah, Max Kretzschmar and Chris Arthur came in, with Nathan Ralph and Macauley Bonne dropping to the bench. Woking lined up in a rigid 5-3-2 formation as they looked to plug the free-scoring opposition. Dover fielded a strong team that reflected their status as serious play-off contenders, with 32-goal (in all competitions) former Woking academy player Ricky Miller leading the line
Dover produced the first corner of the game two minutes in after good pressure from Miller, but it was comfortably dealt with by The Cards defence. The energetic Miller continued to cause problems early on for The Cards, chasing every lost ball and putting pressure on every Woking touch. Woking produced their first half-chance of the game on the 8th minute after Caprice raced to the by-line and dragged the ball across, but it was too quick for Ugwu. A deflected effort from Max Kretzschmar then produced a corner for The Cards which was cleared.
Aswad Thomas then produced a problematic delivery in the 11th minute which Brian Saah did very well to hook over the bar. Dover's resulting corner was then dealt with again by Saah. Dover enjoyed the majority of the possession in the early stages but failed to create many clear-cut opportunities with the ball. Miller produced a wicked delivery from a free-kick for the visitors, but again, the effort resulting from it was off target.
Gozie Ugwu fashioned a good opportunity for himself midway through the first half after good interplay with Ferdinand. His effort from 20 yards was comfortably over the bar. The referee continued to give decisions in the visitors favour, prompting a few moans and groans from Kingsfield faithful. Ugwu then got another chance after busy work from Kretzschmar produced another pacey delivery across the box that the Woking centre forward was inches away from getting a toe on.
Dover then came closest to breaking to deadlock 10 minutes before halftime, a loose ball finding Healy whose vicious right-footed effort had Poke stretching. The Dover winger however was denied by the woodwork and a magnificent stretch from the Woking keeper; it looked a combination of bar/post and Poke that prevented the away side from taking the lead. An even better chance came three minutes later for the visitors as they started to assert some real authority. Thomas produced another good delivery from left-back. This found Ricky Modeste unmarked at the back post, but he shockingly headed 2 yards wide of the open goal; another let off for The Cards.
The first half then came to an end with Woking fairly lucky to be on level terms at half-time. A three-minute spell saw two golden chances for Healy and Modeste but the visitors could not capitalise on this. Ugwu had two half chances for The Cards but Woking found it hard to breakthrough a strong Dover back line.
Half Time: Woking 0 Dover Athletic 0
The second half started as the first ended, with the visitors enjoying the majority of the ball. However, two speculative efforts 5 minutes in caused Poke no problems.
Dover then hit the woodwork again in the 52nd minute, this time courtesy of a Woking head. Thomas was once again found at the back post; the left-back’s header was a fairly weak one but needed to be dealt with. Yakubu headed dangerously over his own bar, with the clearance thankfully hitting the top of the woodwork. The resulting corner than forced a clash between Lafayette and Poke, causing the Dover man to be booked.
Woking's first major chance of the game eventually came on the hour mark. A good corner from The Cards found the head of Charlton loanee Terell Thomas but the young centre-back could only guide his header a few yards over the bar; he could not add to his goal against Forest Green at the weekend. The hour mark also prompted Woking into their first change of the evening as Fabio Sariava made way for Charlie Carter.
The breakthrough came straight after the change against the run of play for Woking. A truly magical run from Jake Caprice saw him beat three Dover players from the halfway line; his pace and guile saw him get to the byline. He produced a calm and composed pass into the box; another touch from substitute Carter's foot eventually guided the ball to Kretzschmar in the 6-yard-box who gladly rolled the ball into the empty net. He deserved a goal after a busy evening’s work.
Caprice now had confidence flowing through his veins as he whipped in another dangerous ball straight after the goal but The Cards could not double their lead. The last 20 minutes promised to be a nervy one.
Ricky Miller, who had been fairly quiet by his standards in the 2nd half, had a volley blocked from the resolute Cards defence. The resulting counter-attack from Woking created a shout for a penalty as the fresh legs of Carter were hauled down in the box. But the referee waved the appeals away. The Cards could have been dealt an injury blow with 10 minutes left of proceedings as their talisman and top-scorer Ugwu seemed to go down feeling his hamstring, but the striker thankfully jogged it off.
The goal-scorer Kretzschmar then made way for Colchester loanee, Bonne, with five minutes to go as Woking looked to close on a vital win. Woking continued to stay compact and strong as another foul on Poke relieved more pressure on the Woking backline. It was all Dover as the officials added on four additional minutes, but they could not fashion a clear chance. Garry Hill's back 5 were faultless all night in a terrific and important victory for the home side. Kretzschmar's tap in midway through the second half was enough to seal all three points against promotion chasing Dover.
Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Terell Thomas, Joey Jones, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu, Fabio Sariava (Charlie Carter 63), Max Kretzschmar (McCauley Bonne 86 ), Gozie Ugwu, Kane Ferdinand , Chris Arthur
Unused Subs: Brandon Hall, Nathan Ralph, Dennon Lewis
Goal: Kretzschmar 66
Dover: Steve Arnold, Sam Magri, Aswad Thomas, Richard Orlu, Ricky Modeste (James Hurst 77), Ricky Miller, Jamie Grimes, Ross Lafayette (Moses Emmanuel 75), Joe Healy, Bondz N'Gala, Nicky Deverdics
Unused Subs: Mitchell Pinnock, Tyrone Sterling, Connor Essam
Booked: Grimes, Lafayette
Sponsor’s (Curchod & Co) MotM: Ismail Yakubu, who commanded the defence with his imposing physical presence keeping Ricky Miller quiet.