Cards make it hard for themselves
8:06pm, Sat 10th Oct 2009
Woking 2 Maidstone United 0
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
10 October 2009
Graham Baker must have been tearing his (remaining!) hair out this afternoon as his charges squandered chance after chance to kill this game off after the Cards had taken a 9th minute lead. The inevitable result was a somewhat nervy finale before Luke Medley, looking suspiciously offside, eventually sealed Wokingâ€™s passage to the 4th Qualifying Round with a goal in extra time.
Woking were missing Tony Sinclair again, so Joe McNerney continued to partner Tom Hutchinson in central defence, while Jamie Hand took up the central midfield role normally filled by Mark Ricketts.
Wilfried Domoraud, making his home debut after his return to the Club, seemed keen to remind Woking fans of his prowess. As early as the second minute he turned and hammered the ball over the bar. Woking kept up their early pressure and were rewarded in the 9th minute when, after a delightful move involving Gez Sole and Sam Sloma, Aswad Thomas put in an excellent cross to Domoraud, who turned once more and clubbed the ball into the net. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, a name on many lips this afternoon, couldnâ€™t have thumped it any harder!
With Hand pulling the strings in midfield, spraying the ball around, there was every reason (apart from fansâ€™ experience of quite a few games at Kingfield this season!) to think the Cards could quickly build on their early lead and put the game beyond the Stonesâ€™ reach.
Sole headed narrowly wide in the 12th minute from another terrific Thomas cross, but the Cardsâ€™ attacking momentum then began to falter as the visitors clawed their way back into the match. A sloppy clearance from Hutchinson presented Hernandez-Bradshaw with a shooting opportunity, which he wasted, and then Edge volleyed wide.
There was increasing frustration among the Woking faithful as attacking moves broke down through poor final balls, with Sole guilty twice in as many minutes of pulling the ball back to no-one and Craig Watkins passing up a chance to attack the Maidstone goal. Even the normally reliable Sloma forfeited a dangerous counter-attack with a pass straight to a defender.
Maidstone meanwhile continued to pose a threat, with a clever back heel opening the way for a shot which was deflected for a corner.
An audacious attempt at a bicycle kick by Domoraud raised hopes that the elusive second goal might at last materialise and, indeed, Woking came close three times as the minutes ticked down to half-time. Domoraud climbed well to connect with a Thomas cross but the header went straight to the Stonesâ€™ keeper, Jamie Turner, who always seemed to be in the right place. Sole then produced one of his classic free-kicks, which cannoned off the bar before, right on time, sweeping a loose ball towards the far corner, only to see Turner touch it round the post.
Half-time: Woking 1 Maidstone United 0
No doubt Graham Baker and/or Jimmy Dack reminded the side at half-time in no uncertain terms that a 1-0 lead is very fragile and that, unless they killed the opposition off, they would be in severe danger of letting them back into the match. In any event, the Cards came out from the break and subjected the Maidstone defence to intense pressure. With only a minute added, Sole had a glorious chance to please his Manager as Domoraud slipped the ball into his path, but he lifted the ball, left-footed, over Turner and then over the bar. A few more hairs were torn from Grahamâ€™s head.
Attacking moves came thick and fast, with Domoraud almost finishing off a searching Sloma cross at the far post and then forcing the keeper into another fine save after Sole had driven the ball hard and low into the box. From the resulting corner Turner safely gathered Hutchinsonâ€™s header.
Woking fansâ€™ worst fears were almost realised in the 62nd minute when a quick break down the Maidstone left flank saw Hernandez-Bradshawâ€™s terrific strike thunder against the Woking bar, followed shortly afterwards by a penalty shout.
With Nicky Nicolau on for Sloma, who appeared to be having treatment once he reached the dug-out, Woking endured a few minutes of anxious defending before Sole made a marvellous run down the Woking left, skipping over a tackle as he advanced into the area. Once again his delivery was misdirected but it came back to Hand, who was unlucky to see his shot blocked on the line. Luke Medley now joined in the action, replacing Sole, but it was Domoraud who once more hammered a shot in â€“ and Turner once more parried to safety. A few minutes later the French striker should have done better with a header from a Watkins cross, nodding the ball into the ground and wide.
Woking continued to make most of the running, with crosses coming in from Ricky Anane and Nicolau but the attacking threat was punctuated by some uncertain defending as Woking failed to clear their lines properly.
After Domoraud had nearly profited from a low cross from Medley, the game was held up for some considerable time by an injury to the referee. With no fourth official present, a call had to go out for someone to run the line. To great cheers, a somewhat rotund figure ran, sprightly enough, from a group of Maidstone fans to take over as linesman. His every decision was subsequently scrutinised by both sets of fans and applauded or jeered as appropriate and he was to play a controversial role at the very end of the game when he deemed Medley to be on side for Wokingâ€™s second goal.
The enforced interval did not really affect the pattern of play, with Woking still doing most of the attacking but failing to make their chances count. Almost inevitably, though, the home sideâ€™s nerves became a little shredded as Maidstone launched a final assault to save the game. A Thomas slip on the turf opened up a chance for Pinnock but he hadnâ€™t got sufficient room to test Worner, who was then able to grab the ball.
Woking contrived to make things more difficult for themselves by giving away possession, instead of holding onto the ball and one fiercely-struck effort ended up being blocked by Hutchinsonâ€™s chest, unwittingly.
Medley fired horribly wide after another Woking attack before going closer with another effort after Hand had played him in. There was still time for more jangling of Woking nerves as Nicolau mis-kicked and Worner failed to hold a cross before Arter curled a shot over the bar and then Medley ran onto a through ball, seemingly from an offside position, to slide the ball past Turner to make it 2-0.
The final goal might have been dubious but it came with less than a minute of extra time to play and there was no doubt that Woking were the better side on the day. But Graham Baker will know that his side will be punished in due course if they donâ€™t finish teams off when they get the chance.
Woking: Ross Worner, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Jamie Hand (Mark Ricketts, 85), Tom Hutchinson, Joe McNerney, Craig Watkins, Harry Arter, Wilfried Domoraud, Giuseppe Sole (Luke Medley, 68), Sam Sloma (Nicky Nicolau, 63)
Unused subs: Delano Sam-Yorke, Jerome Maledon, Matt Pegler, Daniel Sintim
Booked : Luke Medley
Sponsorâ€™s (Cardsweb FC) MOTM: Wilfried Domoraud (pictured)