Cards fail to make it 3 from 3 on the 3G

Albert Cole
12:00am, Sat 9th Sep 2017
Maidstone United 3 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
9th September 2017

Woking failed to win three successive league games throughout the whole of the 2016-17 season, and they fell short again in the early September sunshine at the Gallagher Stadium, in front of an excellent crowd of 2,527.

The Cards made one change from the side that triumphed 3-1 at Macclesfield seven days earlier, Jordan Wynter coming into the side in place of the injured skipper Richard Orlu and slotting straight into the Centre Back position alongside Josh Staunton. With vice-captain Joey Jones still not fit enough even for the bench, Chez Isaac took the armband.

The Stones started the brighter of the two teams, and within the first minute Zavon Hines tried his luck from the edge of the box, Nathan Baxter collecting at the second attempt with Delano Sam-Yorke lurking. Not more than a minute later, ex-Card Sam-Yorke fired over as Maidstone immediately took the game to the visitors. At the other end though, good interplay in midfield set up Jason Banton for a shot, but he fired just over. All this within the first five minutes!

Woking lived dangerously as Isaac dallied on the edge of the box and lost possession, but the defence held firm and eventually got the ball away. In the fourteenth minute, Inih Effiong won a corner down the Woking left, the ball was worked to Isaac who found Staunton who had a free header inside the box, but his effort was cleared off the line by another ex-Card in the shape of Joe Anderson. Less than a minute later, Banton weaved his way into the box and his low ball in was deflected towards his own goal by Prestedge, the ball rolling agonisingly against the base of the post before being cleared to safety.

The home side should have taken the lead in the 20th minute, Josh Hare picking out Joe Pigott with a fine cross from the right, but the striker, despite rising well to a free header, couldn’t keep his effort down. Up the other end, and Joe Ward was off target with a rising shot from the edge of the box. The hard-working Nathan Ralph then blocked Sam-Yorke’s cross out for a corner to the hosts.

A goal was coming from somewhere, and unfortunately it was the Stones that got it in the 34th minute. Zavon Hines, probably Maidstone’s outstanding player on the day, was given too much space in the box and he confidently fired his shot high into the roof of the net past Baxter’s despairing dive.

Woking tried to respond, Banton driving into the box and cutting in on his left foot, but his low shot was well stopped by Worgan in the home goal. Just before half-time, Effiong won a free kick right on the edge of the box, but Banton’s delivery from such a promising position was poor, his floated ball in evading everyone and harmlessly drifting out for a goal kick. There was still time for another ‘hearts in mouths’ moment for Cards fans; Kane Ferdinand playing a sloppy back pass to allow Johan ter Horst in on goal, but his effort was superbly tipped onto the post by Baxter.

Half-Time: Maidstone United 1 Woking 0

The early sunshine was replaced by dark clouds and even a few spots of rain as the teams emerged for the second half. Maidstone quickly looked to extend their lead as Pigott played in ter Horst, but he was flagged offside as Baxter saved.

Woking’s final ball had been their downfall in the first half, and it proved to be the case again in the 51st minute as Ward found Isaac who worked it out to Banton, but the hosts’ defence easily snuffed out any danger.

Woking’s first substitution came in the 57th minute, on loan signing Regan Charles-Cook replacing Charlie Carter. The substitute quickly did well to win a corner, but again it was to come to nothing. Bawling then replaced Banton, still feeling his way back after his long injury lay-off from the start of the season.

Just two minutes on from the second substitution, in the 67th minute, the hosts increased their lead, and there was an inevitability about the scorer. Stones sub Jai Reason fed Sam-Yorke on the edge of the area, and the former Card curled a lovely shot into the far corner, leaving Baxter no chance. Woking countered with their third and final substitution, on-loan Millwall striker Jamie Philpot coming on for Chez Isaac as Woking chased the game, the skipper’s armband passing to Nathan Ralph.

The game looked over in the 70th minute as Maidstone had the ball in the net for a third time, but the referee had spotted a high foot.

Two minutes later and Woking had a way back. Sub Philpot did superbly down the right and his ball in was well controlled by Joe Ward, who smashed it home to give the Cards hope.

Hope, though, lasted all of four minutes. Hero Ward turned villain with a poor pass to Matt Young, who also dithered and lost possession too easily. The exciting Hines squared the ball for Pigott who made no mistake into the far corner.

Matt Young, largely ineffective, capped off a poor afternoon by getting himself booked after a late challenge on Hines. A few minutes later and it could easily have been four as the Woking back line parted to let in Prestedge, but his low drive from 25 yards was well saved by Baxter. Hines then got away down the left and fed in Sam-Yorke, but his effort was well blocked. Maidstone continued to press in the closing stages; sub Jack Paxman firing just over and in injury time Sam-Yorke won a free kick on the edge of the Woking box, Reason curling his effort just over the bar.

At the death Ward got going down the left flank and pulled the ball back to Charles-Cook, but his strike was just the wrong side of the upright, before the referees’ whistle bought the curtain down on a disappointing and frustrating afternoon for the Cards.

Anthony Limbrick and Jason Goodliffe will be concerned about the number of goals being conceded – that’s 16 now in just 9 games, although Woking definitely missed the presence and organisation of skipper Richard Orlu this afternoon. It is to be hoped that he returns quickly. As for the players, in truth this was a disappointing performance and they never really got going. There was a lot of appealing and not playing to the whistle, as well as petulant and unnecessary arguments with the referee – and each other!

They need to regroup quickly, as attention now turns to Tuesday night and the visit of struggling Solihull Moors, in what looks like being – even at this early stage of the season – a very important game, before Sutton United make the short trip down the A3 next Saturday.

Maidstone: Lee Worgan ©, Josh Hare, Reece Prestedge, Alex Wynter, Magnus Okuonghae, Stuart Lewis, Delano Sam-Yorke, Joe Anderson, Johan ter Horst, (Jai Reason 59), Zavon Hines, (Jack Richards 85), Joe Pigott (Jack Paxman 81)

Unused Subs: Alex Finney, Seth Nana Twumasi

Goals: Hines 34, Sam-Yorke 67, Pigott 76

Yellow Card: Hines 53

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Nathan Ralph, Josh Staunton, Chez Isaac ©, (Jamie Philpot 69), Inih Effiong, Jason Banton, (Bobson Bawling 65), Charlie Carter, (Regan Charles-Cook 57), Jordan Wynter, Matt Young, Kane Ferdinand, Joe Ward

Unused Subs: Louis Ramsey, Sam Mason

Goal: Ward 72

Yellow Cards: Wynter 62, Young 77, Philpot 87

Referee: Alan Dale

Attendance: 2527

My MOTM: Nathan Ralph – a steady, composed performance from the young left-back, a stand-out performer in what was generally an underwhelming Cards performance.

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