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Third Round Draw a Handsome Re-Ward for Woking

Ben Musgrove - 3rd December 2017

Third Round Draw a Handsome Re-Ward for Woking Woking 1 Peterborough United 1
Emirates FA Cup Second Round
3rd December 2017

When it comes to playing league sides, it seems that Anthony Limbrick is developing something of a penchant for upsets. A late Joe Ward goal cancelled out Ryan Tafazolli’s first half tap-in, securing a 1-1 draw for Woking against Peterborough United. The result which sees Woking unbeaten in three against league opposition; the Cards will look back on the chances that went begging, including a missed penalty by Chez Isaac and a late effort from Ward striking the crossbar, and wonder how they only managed to come away with a replay at London Road.

Woking made a number of changes, both tactical and enforced, from the side that were outplayed against Boreham Wood on Tuesday night. Nathan Baxter passed a late fitness test to replace the impressive Sam Mason in goal, and a yellow card for Richard Orlu at Meadow Park saw him ruled out due to suspension. Joey Jones replaced the captain, with Louis Ramsey and Charlie Carter coming into the side as well.

Peterborough, taking the occasion as seriously as the FA Cup should demand, named an unchanged side to the one that capitulated so spectacularly against Charlton during the week. The Posh surrendered a 2-0 lead at home in the last five minutes to draw 2-2, leaving them with the joint-worst record for conceded goals in the top 10 of League 1. Their starting eleven also included former Woking man Jack Marriott who spent two spells on loan at Kingfield, mirroring the journey of Kane Ferdinand, who played over 50 games for Peterborough before joining the Cards last summer.

If the visitors were expecting Woking to have a shaky start as they did against Bury, they were sorely disappointed. Anthony Limbrick’s side attempted to play football ‘the right way’ from the off, dominating possession particularly well in the early stages even if chances weren’t at a premium. A Ward cross flashed into the side netting served as a warning, and Woking’s quick press nearly caught out visiting keeper Jonathan Bond thanks to the bustling energy of Charles-Cook; the keeper was lucky to get his clearance away.

An odd but valuable chance fell to Woking inside the first fifteen as Bond was adjudged to have caught the ball as a backpass when rushing to collect in front of a charging Inih Effiong, presenting Woking with an indirect free-kick just 12 yards from goal. It was taken short and fired through the legs of Charles-Cook to an unmarked Joey Jones on the edge of the area. If Jones was aiming for the postage stamp, the shot was closer to Woking post office; the ball was skied, and the chance was gone. Shortly after this Jones was involved again, miscommunicating with Ferdinand as the two both met a Ward corner that ended up skewed wide.

And within a few minutes, completely against the run of play, Woking were behind. A fizzing free-kick from Marcus Maddison on the left-hand side was parried by Nathan Baxter, but the ball fell kindly for centre-half Tafazolli, who poked the ball into the net to open the scoring.

Woking heads refused to drop, and Charles-Cook’s effort that flew inches wide from range just two minutes after was a signal of intent. Woking continued to boss possession and create, although they had to work hard to thwart the sudden enthusiasm of the Peterborough forwards, who looked to break with regularity for the first time in the game. Maddison was able to test Baxter again from range, forcing a smart stop, shortly before a cross into the six-yard box evaded an onrushing Marriott by inches.

As the half drew to a close, and Woking managed a spell of sustained pressure around the penalty box, their best chance of the game arrived: their first penalty of the season. After efforts by Ward were twice denied, a long ball into the box towards Effiong saw the target man dragged to the floor by Alex Penny. Chez Isaac took responsibility and stepped up, and while his effort was well placed, it didn’t have the pace it needed; Bond made a fantastic save down to his left-hand side, tipping the ball round the post.

Peterborough then had a chance to kill the game off just before half time, but to the relief of the home fans, Gwion Edwards could only fire wide as he broke towards goal down the Woking left. The interval left the Cards with a strange sensation. On the balance of play they should certainly have been level, and probably in the lead – but they had also ridden their luck and been made to graft to thwart their league opposition from putting the game beyond them.

Half-time: Woking 0 Peterborough United 1

The second half saw both sides unchanged, and the pattern of play remained mostly the same. Peterborough had clearly been instructed to press higher, and the fitness of Baxter meant that he was playing the ball short from goal-kicks, instead of aiming for the aerial presence of Effiong. This meant a slower start for the Cards as they tried to pick their way out of defence; Ferdinand and Isaac alternated dropping deep from midfield into the gap between Wynter and Jones, allowing passes to spread the play to the fullbacks and to dissolve the pressure. Marriott in particular looked to work the Woking defence with relentless running, and while Woking bossed possession – 57% over the course of the game – they were unable to create much early on.

When chances did come, unusually for Woking, they seemed to stem from set pieces. Effiong’s knockdown from a Ward corner allowed Jordan Wynter a rare effort at goal, but the goalbound blast was knocked away for another corner, with Ferdinand heading over shortly after. This period of the game also saw the excellent Louis Ramsey, still recovering from injury, replaced by Matt Young after the former received a particularly crunching challenge.

Peterborough looked increasingly frustrated in their efforts to kill the game off as pressure built on their own goal, with chances seemingly difficult for the Posh to create. Maddison looked increasingly the only outlet for the visitors, and he conjured the best chance for them late on with a deflected cross that forced Baxter into a smart stop, and that Joey Jones was just able to clear.

Woking continued to pose a threat as Peterborough began to sit back, with Philpot introduced for Carter to provide a more direct attacking threat. With just six minutes left, the change paid off, and Woking had what they deserved.

Regan Charles-Cook began the move, tying Alex Penny in knots before fizzing in a low cross that would’ve offered Ward a tap-in but for the clearance. Said clearance only fell to Nathan Ralph on the left wing, who took a two-touch waltz around Penny again before floating a ball in towards Effiong. The big man managed a ghost of a flick-on to find Ward, who chested the ball and then slammed a volley into the turf, thundering the ball past Bond and into the Peterborough net. The Kingfield Road End exploded behind the goal; their side were level, and deservedly so.

The goal should perhaps have galvanised the visitors into a response, but they failed to threaten for the remainder of the game. Suddenly Bond’s goal was a shooting range; Ferdinand met a whipped Ward cross but was unable to bundle his mishit header over the line, and then Charles-Cook fired another long-range effort agonising wide of the far post.

The closest was saved for last, though how intentional it was remains to be seen. With literally seconds left on the clock, Ward cut inside from the left wing and launched a cross-cum-shot towards the far post; with Bond beaten, the ball rattled his crossbar, and looped out of play. Before the restart, referee Chris Sarginson blew his whistle, and the tie was done.

As previously against Bury, Woking can look back with a mixture of pride and frustration. They bossed possession, outshot their opponents both on and off target, and managed a spectacular 9 corners to Peterborough’s 1. Once again, the Cards had risen to the occasion, and outperformed a league side expected to win at Kingfield.

However, they will also look back and gilt-edged opportunities – particularly the missed penalty – and not be able to help but wonder if they should’ve killed the tie on the day. The F.A Cup draw tomorrow, a calendar event for any football fan, will inevitably bring great excitement. If it’s not a draw that ends up being relevant to the fortunes of Woking, though, they will only have themselves to blame for not forcing victory in a game that they dominated for long stretches.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Nathan Ralph, Jordan Wynter, Joey Jones, Louis Ramsey (Matt Young 63), Chez Isaac, Kane Ferdinand, Charlie Carter (Jamie Philpot 74), Regan Charles-Cook, Joe Ward, Inih Effiong

Unused subs: Josh Staunton, Jason Banton, Fabio Saraiaa, Declan Appau, Sam Mason

Goals: Ward 84

Bookings: Isaac 80

Bury: Jonathan Bond, Andrew Hughes, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Penny, Gwion Edwards (Jack Baldwin 85), Chris Forrester, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Steven Taylor, Anthony Grant, Marcus Maddison, Jack Marriott

Unused subs: Ricky Miller, Danny Lloyd-McGoldrick, Idris Kanu, Michael Doughty, Jermaine Anderson, Conor O’Malley

Goals: Tafazolli 24

Bookings: Marriott 42

Referee: Chris Sarginson

Attendance: 3072

Man of the Match: Joe Ward. The winger worked incredibly hard for his team both defensively and going forward, attempting more shots than anyone else on the team and taking a foot full of studs for his side in the process of slamming home a fine equaliser.
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