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Great cup win for young Cards

Brian Caffarey - 5th November 2009

Great cup win for young Cards Woking 3 Dagenham and Redbridge 1
FA Youth Cup 1st Round Proper
4 November 2009

A great performance by Matt Howard’s young guns, coming back from a goal down at half-time, saw them deservedly overcome their League opponents to set up an exciting away tie at the Valley in the next round. If their first team colleagues, many of whom turned up to support their younger brethren, show the same spirit and commitment on Saturday at Swindon in their equivalent tie, no Cards fan will have any complaint.

The young Cards welcomed back Aaron Gough at centre back but were missing Matt Pegler in goal, Ali Turpie standing in. Anson Cousins played in a Harry Arter-role, supporting the highly-promising front duo of Ola Sogbanmu and Ollie Palmer.

Woking were quickly on the offensive on a greasy, slippery surface which made handling and judging of the bounce difficult for the two young keepers. Anson Cousins’s offensive role was quickly apparent as he teed up an early effort, while Ola Sogbanmu headed over. But the first half was to ebb and flow and the Daggers shocked their hosts by taking a 14th-minute lead with a wonderful solo effort from Jay Nash. Picking up the ball in central midfield, he slalomed past several challenges before unleashing a superb left-footed shot which cannoned off the inside base of the far post to nestle in the back of the net.

The Cards quickly re-grouped and took the game to their opponents. Anson Cousins was suddenly clear of the defence but was flagged offside. However, Dagenham demonstrated again that their front two posed a considerable threat as another Nash run was blocked. From about midway in the half the Cards seemed to get a better grip of the midfield and, from that point on in the game, the momentum lay with them, although there was always a risk that, as at Ashford Town in the last round, the Cards would find themselves with an even bigger uphill task.

Ola and Ollie both nearly got on the end of a great cross from out right from Chris Aldridge, while Ollie showed clever footwork to get past his marker on the byeline. The equaliser looked to be coming on the half-hour mark when Ola headed on his front partner’s flick but the ball went wide. Four minutes later a goal seemed certain as Rob Carr capitalised on a defensive slip, putting in a superb cross but Anson Cousins’s diving header was blocked by the Daggers’ keeper.

Dagenham bounced back briefly as the skilful Tony Martin twice went on mazy runs into the box, tricking his way past several defenders before finally being blocked. But the Cards finished the half well on top as they fought hard to retrieve a one-goal deficit which did not reflect the balance of play. Ola Sogbanmu shot powerfully but wide. Chris Aldridge skipped past a defender on the right flank to fire in another fine cross. Anson Cousins’s lunge at the far post couldn’t quite direct the ball into the net. His free-kick a minute later was fumbled at the far post by the keeper but Ollie Palmer, following up, could only drill the ball into the advertising hoardings. Callum Eagle ended the half with a header over the bar from a corner.

Half-time: Woking 0 Dagenham and Redbridge 1

Ollie Palmer, always working hard, quickly put Woking back on the front foot after the break, latching onto a nice Chris Aldridge flick, to get down the right and pull a dangerous ball back, only for the keeper to intercept. There was a scare at the other end, though, as Ali Turpie dropped a simple catch. Fortunately, Martin crashed the ball wide. Ali then comfortably held a header from a corner before, in the 54th minute, the young Cards finally got the equaliser they deserved.

The ball came to Anson Cousins in the right of the Daggers’ area. As Anson sought to round the keeper he was caught. The referee waited to see if he could complete the move but then blew as Anson’s stumble removed any potential advantage. It was Anson who lined up to take the penalty kick and made no mistake. The players’ (and fans’) delight at the goal was evident in a huge celebratory scrum – to be repeated twice more before the evening was out.

There was no doubt now where the momentum lay in the tie and Woking moved quickly to reap their rewards. With only five more minutes on the clock a searching cross from out left was met at the far post with a diving header, just inside the woodwork, from Ollie Palmer.

The Daggers were not finished, however, and almost levelled the tie as a cross went right across the face of the Woking goal. In the 63rd minute, though, the young Cards extended their lead as Ola Sogbanmu headed home a corner from close range.

That lead was nearly cut two minutes later when Ali Turpie was forced into a fine reaction save to block a strong header, with the ball then being hurriedly cleared.

Thereafter, though, the Cards rarely looked in danger of loosening their grip on the game and might well have made the score even more emphatic as the Daggers were forced to press forward and leave more gaps at the back. Another Martin run threatened but this time he ran into a cul-de-sac of his own making, while Aaron Gough, commanding in defence, executed a well-timed tackle to thwart another attack but another intervention inadvertently brought Ali Turpie into action as he was forced to grab the ball at the second attempt.

With eight minutes to go the Daggers’ cause was made even more difficult as a second yellow card – rather harsh, perhaps – reduced the visitors to ten players. Josh Watkins battled impressively to win the ball and put in a good effort. Woking finished strongly as Ola Sogbanmu robbed a defender to set up some sustained pressure on the Daggers’ goal, ending in a corner, while the final decisive action saw the Daggers’ keeper just manage to take the ball off Ola’s feet after he’d been slipped through by Rob Carr.

This spirited and skilful performance highlighted again the great promise in Matt Howard’s side, which augurs very well of course for the continuation of the flow of Academy players into the Cards’ first team squad.

Woking: Ali Turpie, Erih Gasasira (Jack Blatchford, 84), Josh Watkins, Callum Eagle, Aaron Gough, Tom Topham, Chris Aldridge, Anson Cousins, Ola Sogbanmu, Ollie Palmer (George Frith, 90), Rob Carr

Unused subs: Ben Head, Josh Frost-Niven, Chris Richards

Booked: Ollie Palmer, Chris Aldridge, Josh Watkins

Attendance: 208

My MOTM: Ollie Palmer (pictured)

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