Into The Play-Offs!
11:54am, Sun 25th Apr 2010
Woking 4 Weymouth 0
Blue Square South
Saturday 24th April 2010
Not since April 2003 have such wild scenes at Kingfield greeted a result from a game being played elsewhere. Back then it was all about survival in the Conference National. This time it was a precious place in the play-offs and Woking achieved that feat thanks to a comfortable win against Weymouth and a tense and tight victory by ten-man Newport away at Braintree.
It was in so many ways a strange and anxious afternoon at a sun drenched Kingfield. To cap it all, the Woking faithful poured out of the LGS and onto the pitch to join their heroes only to realise that the vital game at Braintree, some eight minutes behind, was not yet over and celebrations were just a little premature. But it mattered not. The League Champions held on to their narrow 2 – 1 lead and Braintree’s play-off aspirations were gone. Woking would finish in fifth place after all.
A bumper Kingfield crowd of over 2,000 greeted Woking and the already relegated Weymouth onto the pitch. Graham Baker had been forced to make one change from the side that had secured a narrow but priceless victory at St Albans the previous week. Harry Arter, suffering from a stomach bug, was replaced by Matthew Wright - the Palace loanee playing up front with Craig Faulconbridge. Gez Sole moved back to join Mark Ricketts in the centre of midfield.
And the noise from the KRE was very quickly even more raucous as the Cards made a dream start. With barely three minutes on the clock, 'man of the match' Nicky Nicolau swung in Woking’s first corner from the right. It was dropped by Neish, the young Weymouth keeper, and Craig Faulconbridge was on hand at the far post to nod the ball into the net.
On fourteen minutes the lead was doubled. After good work by Nicolau on the left, Wright pulled the ball back for Gez Sole to smash the ball home from ten yards. Everything was going Woking’s way as the news filtered through that Newport were also two-nil up at Braintree.
Woking continued to pour forward with very little threat coming from the visitors. Nicky Nicolau’s dangerous crosses from the left seemed the most likely source of further goals. On 29 minutes it was almost three. A long Aswad Thomas free-kick was nodded on by Tom Hutchinson, dominant as ever in the air, for the ball to fall at Faulconbridge’s feet. But the big striker prodded the ball just wide.
After half an hour a quick breakout of defence by Woking after a Weymouth free-kick was cleared found Ricketts in acres of space. Rather than go it alone he elected to pass to Sole alone on the left-hand side of the box. Sadly, Gez had strayed off side.
Woking seemed comfortable enough as the visitors' long balls forward were dealt with easily by Hutchinson and Sinclair. Two more good chances fell to Woking before the break. Ricky Anane and Moses Ademola combined well on the right and it seemed that Faulconbridge had to score as the ball was played in across the box. Inexplicably, he missed the target but it would not have counted as he had already been flagged for offside.
Finally, with time added on being played, Craig Faulconbridge again got on the end of a great ball in from the left. His header, directed across the goal from the far post, was bound for the back of the net but Frampton managed to head off the line.
HALF TIME – Woking 2 Weymouth 0
The second half was a scrappy affair for the most part with the crowd becoming ever more anxious and Woking seeming unable to build on their very obvious superiority.
Early on Tom Hutchinson’s acrobatic effort, after an Aswad Thomas free-kick had been half cleared, flew well over the bar. On 5 minutes Ricky Anane’s short free-kick to Moses Ademola saw the striker cut into the box from the right. His right-foot shot was deflected by a Weymouth defender only for Neish to make an excellent save as he pawed the ball away for a corner.
On 54 minutes a moment of controversy. Referee Busby decided to penalise Ross Worner for picking up a “back pass” on the edge of his box. The ball had been played through by a Weymouth player and the referee’s decision appeared incomprehensible. However the Cards' defensive wall stood firm and McGuinness’ shot was deflected away to safety. That was to prove the visitors’ one and only real opportunity in a game in which they managed not one corner or forced Ross Worner into a single, meaningful save.
On the hour it was almost three as Craig Faulconbridge’s quickly taken free-kick almost caught Neish out as his long-range shot just skimmed the woodwork. But as the half progressed it became ever more scrappy as a strangely quiet Kingfield held their breath as news came through of a Braintree penalty and the Newport sending-off.
Nicky Nicolau continued to provide some great crosses from the left – Faulconbridge heading wide and a corner dropped by Neish but with no red and white shirt on hand to capitalise on the mistake. But on 77 minutes it was finally three and, fittingly, it was the left-sided midfielder who was on hand to finish from close range after a diving Ademola had headed Anane’s ball across the six yard box. It was no more than Nicolau deserved – his season transformed in much the same way as his team’s.
With the game safe and nerves jangling with the hint of any news from Essex, it was finally left to Moses Ademola to tuck away the fourth goal from close range in time added on.
And so to the long wait as players huddled anxiously together in the middle of the pitch waiting for the final score from Braintree. Despite the false start it mattered not. Woking were in the play-offs and the celebrations could begin.
What had seemed so unlikely in March after a 3-0 reverse at Staines Town had been remarkably turned round in a blistering end of season run of victories – six in the last six and eight wins in the last nine games. The cruel loss at Newport was now forgiven and forgotten as Graham Baker informed Adrian Harms on BBC Surrey Radio that he would be sending Dean Holdsworth a bottle of champagne in thanks for his side's part in Woking achieving fifth spot! Not much time for the players to celebrate, however – the play-offs loom with Woking just three games away from a tantalising return to the Blue Square Premier at the first attempt.
COME ON, YOU CARDS!
WOKING LINE-UP: Ross Worner, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Tom Hutchinson, Tony Sinclair, Moses Ademola, Giuseppe Sole (Charlie Moone 77), Craig Faulconbridge (Delano Sam-Yorke 81), Matthew Wright (Jerome Maledon 65), Nicky Nicolau
UNUSED SUBS: Jon Boardman, Joe McNerney
WEYMOUTH LINE-UP: Neish, Tribe, Radcliffe, Mawer, Frampton, Nichols, McGuinness, Farrell (Do-Rosario 60), Foster (Harris 82), Evans (Richardson 58), Dixon
SCORERS: Woking – Faulconbridge 3, Sole 14, Nicolau 77, Ademola 90
BOOKED: Woking – Ademola 90
Weymouth – Mawer 9
MOTM: Nicky Nicolau (pictured)
REFEREE: J. Busby
ASSISTANT REFEREES: G. Viccars, E.Moore