Chesterfield 4 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
10th October 2020
Wokingâ€™s fast start to the season came grinding to a halt as they were on the receiving end of a heavy defeat in Derbyshire. Chesterfield rattled in three late goals to add a gloss to the scoreline from their perspective that would have left the Cards scratching their heads, and wondering just how they had ended up on the receiving end of such a result.
A goal from debutant Alex Kiwomya, sandwiched between a late brace from substitute Luke Rawson, killed the game for the visitors, who had recovered well from the concession of a third minute goal from Tom Denton to dominate most of the open play. Woking fans watching on from afar will be left to reflect on an inability to score when well on top in the game, with, in particular, first half domination failing to result in a goal or two.
The introduction of the substitute Rawson, a graduate of the Spireites academy, proved to be the turning point in the game, after he replaced Tom Denton - the much-travelled striker who, of course, briefly turned out for the Cards in 2008/09 - in the 69th minute.
Coming into this behind-closed-doors match at the newly-christened Technique Stadium, Chesterfield were desperate to get off the mark in their second game, following a midweek home defeat to Hartlepool United, boss John Pemberton could have done without the added complication of losing Scott Boden to suspension following his red card, although was pleased to bring in new signings Alex Kiwomya and Tyler Denton on the eve of the match.
Perhaps surprisingly given Alan Dowsonâ€™s pre -match comments, Woking named an unchanged side from that which triumphed on their travels to Weymouth on Tuesday evening. The Cards did boast a notably attacking bench, with Dave Tarpey, Connor Hall, Max Kretzschmar and the returning Matt Jarvis named amongst the substitutes. The Cards were hoping to continue their impressive start to the season on a ground they won at on their only previous visit, in August 2019.
Whatever early game plan the Cards sought to adopt sadly went out of the window very early into proceedings. Woking will be kicking themselves at the nature of the opening goal of the game. After just three minutes, Chesterfield signalled their intent with the first of a series of long throws into the box from Jordan Cropper. Woking failed to deal with this at the first time of asking, with Tom Denton nodding home, catching Craig Ross by surprise at his near post.
The Woking keeper, normally so impressive, will have been disappointed not to do better.
The Cards response was impressive, as they looked to gain a foothold in the match. As with the previous fixtures this season, the midfield trio of Tommy Block and Charlie Cooper , with Kane Ferdinand allowed a bit more licence to attack, looked comfortable on the ball with some composed passing between themselves. Allied to this, Josh Casey and Nathan Collier looked to venture forward from full back, and provide service to Malachi Napa on the right and John Goddard on the left. Slavi Spasov, as with the previous two games, showed a youthful willingness to chase and keep the Chesterfield defenders honest.
Woking pressed relentlessly in the first 20 minutes of the game in particular, winning a host of corners that, as on Tuesday night, were difficult to defend against with excellent delivery from Casey and Cooper. They created a glorious chance after 13 minutes from open play. Goddard, looking bright and dangerous in this match after a fairly quiet performance at Weymouth, found himself in space, between the two centre halves, on the end of a long ball forward. Goddardâ€™s touch was excellent, however his left foot effort was well saved by Kyle Letheren.
Woking continued to press in the remainder of the half, with the hosts restricted to a couple of efforts from long range that did not unduly trouble Ross and a few of Cropperâ€™s long throws, which were dealt with better by the Woking backline as the match developed.
Napa and Goddard switched wings, on instruction from Dowse, and this move created an opportunity when Napa was fouled 35 yards from goal. In a similar vein to his effort on the opening day against Solihull, Cooper took the free kick, which cleared the wall only to be tipped round the post by Letheren. He made an even more impressive save five minutes from the break. Cooper put in a cross from the left, and Ferdinand had made a characteristic ghosting run into the box and flicked the ball brilliantly towards the goal, only to be denied by a superb save. This was to be the closest Woking would come to scoring all match.
Half-time: Chesterfield 1 Woking 0
Both sides emerged unchanged at half time and Woking looked to continue to press, with crosses into the box, particularly from Casey and Goddard from the left hand side, remaining the most likely route to a goal for the visitors. In the 54th minute Goddard drove a superb cross into the box which just evaded Spasov.
Woking made their first change just after the hour mark, with Tommy Block, who had been cautioned, replaced by Max Kretzschmar. Rather than a like-for-like change, Kretzschmar looked to get forward, leaving Cooper as the Cards holding midfield man.
The game started to even out during this period and became a bit more attritional, the Cards continuing to look to get the ball into the box from wide areas but Chesterfield grew in confidence and organisation as the game wore on. Sensing the need to inject something fresh into the performance, Woking made their second change, with the eagerly-awaited return to action of Matt Jarvis as he replaced the impressive John Goddard.
Goalmouth action; pic: Onion Bag
The former England international made an instant impact. Fine footwork on the left enabled the ball to be played back to captain Casey, whose cross into the box found the head of Kretzschmar, but his header went wide of the post. On 76 minutes, Kretzschmar showed his creative side, working his way into a dangerous position in the inside left channel, the midfielder flashed a ball across the face of goal forcing a good stop from Letheren, unfortunately no one was close enough to capitalise.
On 81 minutes Woking made their third and final change, with the attacking intent from the visitors clear as Collier made way for Connor Hall. The intention, confirmed by Dowson post-match, was to continue to press for an equaliser and get as many attacking players on the pitch as possible.
Unfortunately the move backfired, as the Cards pushed men forward, with really only Saul Shotton and Jack Cook assuming full defensive duties. On 83 minutes the Cards paid for this understandable gamble. Chesterfield looked to exploit the space on the Woking right in the area vacated by the substitution, and soon were rewarded when a cross from that area wasnâ€™t fully dealt with by Jack Cook, allowing Rawson to fire home from six yards out, to the delight of the Chesterfield players and officials in the stadium
Three minutes later it got worse for Woking, as the dejected Cards allowed Cropper too much space to cross from the opposite flank. Kiwomya ghosted between Cook and Shotton and, in fairness, opened his body up well to intelligently steer the ball past Ross.
Finally, to add insult to injury, the impressive Rawson completed the scoring with a fine right foot strike, after cutting in from the left flank.
Three minutes of injury time passed without any further damage being done.
Make no mistake about it, this was a heavy defeat that will bring the Cards down to earth after two excellent results to kick off this belated National League campaign. However, there were positives to take from this match. After the final whistle Dowson stated his team had played well for 80 minutes, and that home keeper Kyle Letheren was probably the best player on the pitch.
A yield of 6 points from the first three games, with two fixtures away from Surrey, is a return most fans would have been pleased with. Attention now turns to back to back home matches, starting with the visit of Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday night.
13 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 3 Josh Casey Â©, 4 Charlie Cooper, 6 Saul Shotton, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 12 Nathan Collier (9 Connor Hall 81â€™), 14 Slavi Spasov, 20 Malachi Napa, 21 Tommy Block (10 Max Kretzschmar 63â€™), 22 John Goddard (11 Matt Jarvis 72â€™).
7 Dave Tarpey, 30 Sam Cartwright
Tommy Block, Jack Cook, Kane Ferdinand
1 Kyle Letheren, 32 Jordan Cropper, 20 Jamie Sharman, 5 Will Evans Â©, 6 Laurence Maguire (10 Liam Mandeville 80â€™), 3 David Buchanan, 23 Jonathan Smith, 8 Curtis Weston, 13 Milan Butterfield (33 Tyler Denton 64â€™), 11 Alex Kiwomya, 24 Tom Denton (25 Luke Rawson 69â€™)
31 Dylan Wharton, 21 Jack McKay
Tom Denton 3â€™, Luke Rawson 84â€™, 90â€™, Alex Kiwomya 87â€™
Man of the Match: John Goddard
â€“ This was a hard game to analyse, and an even harder one to pick a Woking MOTM in a match where they played pretty well and lost 0-4. John Goddard was an encouraging bright spark in the team though, looking bright and creative before being replaced.