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Cards fight back to equalise

Brian Caffarey - 28th July 2018

Cards fight back to equalise Woking 1 Dover Athletic 1
Pre-season friendly
28 July 2018

This was a generally encouraging work-out for Dowse’s side against a strong Dover outfit who are likely to challenge again for a play-off spot in the Conference National. The Whites included former Woking striker Inih Effiong in their line-up and it was he who gave them the lead in the first half with what looked like a deflected strike. Fittingly, it was a former Dover striker, Duane Ofori-Acheampong, who equalised for the Cards in a strong second-half performance from the home side.

On a cooler and blustery, but largely sunny, afternoon the teams were led out by Alan Barnes, whose yellow strip denoted the recent celebration of his 80th birthday. Woking lined up with Berti Schotterl in goal; a back four of Dan Spence, Nathan Collier, Kiran Khinda-John and Josh Casey; a midfield of Max Kretzschmar, Fabio Saraiva and Kane Ferdinand and a front three of Ofori-Acheampong on the right, Jake Hyde in the middle and Nicky Wheeler out left. Dover’s side, as expected, had plenty of height in their ranks.

The Cards started promisingly, with a Saraiva free-kick being tipped over the bar by Mitch Walker. Wheeler’s corner then led to a scramble in the box before Walker gratefully pounced on the ball. Dover, not surprisingly, threatened from set pieces but, although they had one or two good efforts on or near the target, the Cards coped pretty well with the pressure from set pieces. At the other end, another Wheeler corner deflected to Ferdinand just beyond the far post but, taken by surprise, he was unable to control the ball.

Wheeler, showing quick feet, had a good chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute when, latching onto a fine Casey header, he ran clear of Dover’s backline but he was unable to beat Walker, who blocked his shot at the expense of a corner.

After this bright opening the Cards fell away somewhat. Dover began to move the ball more fluently, while Woking seemed unable to gain much purchase either in midfield or up front. Wheeler looked tricky on the ball but the Dover defence was rarely troubled for the rest of the half.

It was no great surprise when the visitors took the lead in the 29th minute. Effiong, looking lighter and quicker than in his Kingfield days, did well to get down Woking’s right flank before finding the far corner of the net with what looked like a deflected effort.

Effiong went close again a few minutes later, rounding Collier before striking wide. Both Passley, thwarted by a decent Schotterl save, and Gomes, flashing a shot over the bar at the end of a well-worked move, then went close for the Kent side.

The Cards’ one remaining chance of the half came from a corner, with Hyde stooping low for a header, which Walker held.

Half-time: Woking 0 Dover Athletic 1

The second half began with a free header over the bar from Effiong but, after that, the Cards began to increasingly get on the front foot. Ofori-Acheampong got a slight touch on a fine cross by Kretzschmar before the latter, making a great run into the box, narrowly poked wide from a Spence dink over Dover’s back line.

By now the promising Reggie Young had come on for Nicky Wheeler in the first of several substitutions made by Dowse as the half progressed.

The Cards’ equaliser came in the 57th minute. Ofori-Acheampong stooped to flick a header back and into the net from Kretzschmar’s free-kick.

The Cards continued to enjoy more of the game than in the first half, gaining more possession and moving forward with a greater sense of urgency – a trait reinforced when Paul Hodges came on in the 71st minute, impressing with his ability to pick the ball up quickly and burst forward dangerously. Promising interplay between Hodge and Young was frustrated by the latter’s over-hit return pass. Then a fine run by Young demonstrated his ability to take players out of the game with his clever footwork and pace. Dover’s defence showed its increasing discomfiture in bookings for both Nortei and Essam.

Woking came close to grabbing a winner in the final stages of the game. Hodge got in a quick turn and shot before, shortly afterwards, going down in the box to the accompaniment of vociferous appeals for a penalty. The match then finished with a fine move involving Casey, Hodges and Hyde, whose shot was blocked.

Dowse will presumably have been pleased with this display against strong opposition. Although the Cards were missing Jack Cook and Charlie Wassmer in defence, Nathan Collier and Kiran Khinda-John acquitted themselves very well. Josh Casey also showed up strongly, especially in the first half, and there were very promising cameos from Paul Hodges and Reggie Young in the second half. Max Kretzschmar was typically busy and positive, while Kane Ferdinand had a steady game, lying deeper. Duane Ofori-Acheampong, who looked rather peripheral in the first half, was much more heavily involved after half-time and took his goal well.

The Cards now have a final pre-season friendly against Farnborough on Tuesday evening before the real thing begins next Saturday at East Thurrock United.

Woking: Berti Schotterl, Dan Spence, Nathan Collier, Kiran Khinda-John, Josh Casey, Max Kretzschmar. Kane Ferdinand, Fabio Saraiva (Declan Appau 76), Duane Ofori-Acheampong (Paul Hodges 71), Jake Hyde, Nicky Wheeler (Reggie Young 50)

Unused substitutes: Sam Mason, Greg Luer, Charlie Hester-Cook

Goalscorer: Duane Ofori-Acheampong 57 (pictured)

Booked: Paul Hodges

Dover Athletic: Mitch Walker, Josh Passley, Trialist, Tim Schmoll, Kevin Lokko, Connor Essam, Jamie Allen, Mitch Brundle, Inih Effiong, Bedsente Gomis, Nortei Nortey

Unused substitutes: Kadell Daniel, Manny Adebowale, Moussa Diarra, Dave Smith, Chris Lewington, Ejiro Okosieme

Goalscorer: Inih Effiong 29

Booked: Nortei Nortey and Connor Essam

Attendance: 450

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