Haydn Cobb - 25th March 2017
Woking 2 Maidstone United 4
Vanarama National League
25th March 2017
Woking’s hopes in the Vanarama National League relegation battle took a bitter blow after losing a two-goal lead to fall to defeat against fellow strugglers Maidstone United at Kingfield.
Off the back of a confidence-building win away at Braintree Town on Tuesday night, Woking bolted into a two-goal lead thanks to early strikes from Delano Sam-Yorke and Jamie Lucas in a game considered vital in the relegation scrap.
A quick-fire response by Maidstone United’s Jamar Loza halved the deficit before the break and despite a spirited display the home side succumbed to a disappointing second half, conceding three goals without response as Loza grabbed two more to complete a hat-trick while former Cards player Yemi Odubade piled on the pain with a late fourth for the Stones.
With both sides starting the game level on points, Woking slip to 20th and with Torquay United drawing against Wrexham the Cards are now just one point above the drop zone with Torquay holding one game in hand, while York City remain five points behind Woking but have two games in hand.
Garry Hill was able to name an unchanged line-up from the midweek win against Braintree Town with Sam-Yorke facing up against the team he spent a brief loan spell at earlier in the season, in front of the biggest Kingfield crowd since the New Year’s Day fixture against Aldershot Town.
Both sides began the game with a feisty tempo, after the importance of the three points was underlined by both managers before kick-off, and it was the away side that had the first effort on target. Alex Flisher lobbed a dangerous long throw-in into the Cards box and Joe Pigott’s control and acrobatic shot was tipped over a firm left hand by Michael Poke.
Woking cleared the resulting corner and stormed up the other end to force a corner of their own after Kane Ferdinand’s low effort was tipped past the left post by goalkeeper Lee Worgan. The traveling side failed to clear their lines which saw the ball lobbed over the onrushing defence to see Sam-Yorke beat the offside trap and calmly slot the ball into the bottom right corner for his eighth Woking goal of the season.
With the opening goal and confidence high, Woking showed their mettle in defence as Maidstone United posed attacking questions. The dream start got better for Hill’s team when Bristol Rovers loanee Lucas grabbed his first goal for Woking after 25 minutes.
Lucas manufactured a yard of space on the edge of the Maidstone United box after controlling a long ball forward and his low left foot effort evaded Worgan’s outstretched arm to nestle into the far corner.
As the home team looked to press for a third, it left the defence over-exposed with Maidstone United capitalising on a two-versus-two breakaway, as Loza cut on to his right foot to curl his shot past Poke to grab one back for the Stones.
Despite conceding at home for the first time since the 2-1 win against Solihull Moors on Valentine’s Day, it didn’t appear to knock Woking’s momentum who continued to push forward throughout the first half. The tireless Lucas kept the home side on the front foot but a third Woking goal failed to come before the break.
Halftime score: Woking 2 Maidstone Untied 1
Maidstone United started the second half strongly with another long throw from Flisher causing havoc only for Poke to scramble the ball off the line and out of danger. With tensions rising, Woking regained their composure and with the fresh legs of Gozie Uwgu on for Lucas the home team had another good chance for a third with smart build-up work seeing Murtagh go inches wide.
Woking were made to pay for missing chances as Maidstone United found an equaliser from a hopeful ball forward. Flisher controlled to ball inside the Woking box a bundled it to the path of Loza who fired low between the legs of Poke.
It went from bad to worse for the home side when they went behind for the first time in the match as Loza completed his hat-trick. After a careless free kick was given away, Woking failed to clear their lines and Jake Caprice’s mishit fell kindly to Loza to smash home from close range.
Credit to Hill’s team, the Woking players kept their heads up in the hope of an equaliser with Zak Ansah going close with his first meaningful contribution after being subbed on for Caprice.
But with Woking pushing forward they were left exposed defensively as ex-Cards striker Obubade netted against his former club with a sweet left foot curler which gave Poke no chance in goal.
With hopes of victory effectively extinguished, Woking were reduced to long hopeful balls forward in the closing stages which allowed Maidstone United to see the game out and clinch the vital three points.
Woking must now dust themselves down for the visit of Sutton United next weekend at Kingfield and look to get their relegation fight back into action with six league games remaining.
Woking: Michael Poke; Chris Arthur, Terell Thomas, Ismail Yakubu (Fabio Saraiva 66), Jake Caprice (Zak Ansah 78); Keiran Murtagh, Joey Jones, Kane Ferdinand; Jamie Lucas (Gozie Ugwu 57), Delano Sam-Yorke
Unused subs: Brandon Hall, Charlie Carter
Goals: Sam-Yorke 13, Lucas 25
Maidstone United: Lee Worgan; Tom Mills, Jamie Coyle, Kevin Lokko, Seth Nana Twumasi; Joe Pigott (George Oakley 90), Stuart Lewis, Jack Paxman (Yemi Odubade 66), Alex Flisher, Reece Prestedge, Jamar Loza (Harry Phipps 85)
Unused subs: Bobby-Joe Taylor, Magnus Okuonghae
Goals: Loza 29, 68, 75, Odubade 82
Referee: Craig Hicks
Sponsors’ MOTM: Kane Ferdinand