The Cards see Wembley dream vanish

Brian Caffarey
8:38am, Wed 28th Jan 2015
Dover Athletic 1 Woking 0
FA Trophy 3rd Round Replay
27 January 2015

Garry Hill’s dream of taking Woking to Wembley in a Trophy Final came to a sad end at Crabble last night as his team produced a disappointing performance against a Dover side who looked more energetic, creative and determined for most of the match and who would have won by a bigger margin but for some fine saves from Jake Cole and some wasteful finishing. The Cards now need to re-focus quickly on the league if a promising season isn’t to end with a whimper.

Garry Hill started with the same side that had lined up on Saturday save for bringing in Keiran Murtagh for John Goddard, but there were also positional changes, with Joey Jones moving to right back and Adam Newton switching to the right of midfield.

The game started quietly, with little quality from either side, although such attacking moves as there were – in the shape of a couple of ‘sighters’ on goal from Keiran Murtagh and Josh Payne – originated from Woking, who looked comfortable at this stage. A promising break out of defence by Chris Arthur was wasted as he over-hit his attempted pass to Betsy and the ball ran out of play.

The Whites began to come into the game from about the 20th minute onwards and were, from then on, the more threatening side. A slick move in the 22nd minute saw James Clarke – one of Woking’s better players on the night – head clear a Stefan Payne shot on goal. Dover then missed a glorious chance to take the lead a few minutes later. Betsy was easily dispossessed in an advanced position, allowing the home side to make a fast break down their left. Cogan jinked through in the area but, with only Cole to beat, saw his shot blocked by the Woking keeper. The rebound fell invitingly to Stefan Payne but he was just wide with his side-footed attempt to plant the ball in the far corner.

Woking rallied with the odd foray forward but without testing Rafferty in Dover’s goal. Dover passed up another good opportunity to take the lead in the 39th minute when Stefan Payne’s very deliberate header was well saved by Cole just inside his post.

There was a brief respite for Woking as they broke clear from defence, with Murtagh making progress through the middle, leading to a corner and a blocked shot but it was Dover who again looked more likely to score in their next attack. Payne and Murphy combined well to bisect the Woking rearguard but the latter’s cross was poor, enabling Josh Payne to intervene and clear the ball away from danger.

There was just time for Arthur to motor forward purposefully and try a shot from distance but, unlike on Saturday, his effort was blocked, while Murphy’s header was ‘easy meat’ for Cole and Taiwo shot well wide.

Half-time: Dover Athletic 0 Woking 0

The Cards looked a little livelier in the first few minutes after the break as they forced two corners, with Arthur forcing a save at the keeper's near post and then ‘skying’ a rebound. But Dover quickly regained the initiative and, as they began to make progress down the flanks and deliver some decent crosses, it didn’t look as though it would be long before a goal came. Stefan Payne went very close as he stooped to guide a header, only to see it rebound off the post.

The breakthrough finally came in the 60th minute after Payne had been fouled not far outside the area. Deverdics stepped up to place a superb free-kick off the underside of the bar into the far corner, giving Cole no chance.

Garry Hill soon brought on Charles Banya for Murtagh and Gez Sole for Lafayette. The substitutions seemed to give the Cards a lift, with Banya’s quick feet enabling him to escape Dover’s defensive shackles. Briefly on top, Lafayette had a header cleared and Betsy missed a great chance from close in from a Newton cross, heading wide, while Sole had two efforts on goal: one a header and the other a left-footed shot which he dragged across the face of the goal.

Unlike at Kingfield, Dover made no attempt to sit back and simply defend their one-goal lead. In the 77th minute Wynter’s initial effort, and Murphy’s follow-up, were both blocked. Two minutes later Murphy was through on goal but Cole saved again, this time with his feet.

Woking tried to gain some attacking momentum in the closing stages but Rafferty had little to do but hold a few crosses and high balls into the box. Once again, it was Dover who came closest to scoring as the influential Murphy flashed a shot just wide of the near post. The referee added five minutes’ extra time but, in truth, the Cards never looked like they would grab an equaliser.

Garry Hill will need to use his all his managerial ‘nous’ to lift his side and to try to regain the momentum which has been lost since early December.

Woking: Jake Cole, Joey Jones, Joe McNerney, James Clarke, Chris Arthur, Adam Newton, Keiran Murtagh (Charles Banya 71), Josh Payne, Kevin Betsy, Scott Rendell, Ross Lafayette (Giuseppe Sole 72)

Unused subs: Mark Ricketts, John Goddard, Andy Little

Booked: Kevin Betsy, James Clarke

Dover Athletic: Andrew Rafferty, Connor Essam, Tyrone Sterling, Sean Raggett, Richard Orlu, Sean Francis (Tom Wynter 72), Barry Cogan (Chris Kinnear 90 +4), Nicky Deverdics, Solomon Taiwo (Ricky Modeste 87), Tom Murphy, Stefan Payne

Unused subs: Mitch Walker, Jake Reid

Booked: Solomon Taiwo, Ricky Modeste

My MOTM: Jake Cole (pictured)

Attendance: ?

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