After the Ravens depart, Cards are left with a towering challenge
12:00am, Sat 14th Apr 2018
Woking 0 Bromley 2
Vanarama National League
14th April 2018
With a strong hint that spring might have finally arrived, it was a warm, sunny afternoon for this National League encounter, and the Woking fans in the 2,000+ crowd must have been hoping that the brightness would be matched by something equivalent in the performance of the team.
Ideally, the occasion would commemorate 1,000 Woking games at Level 5 of English football though the celebration as such may have been muted by the preceding 11-match run without a win. The parlous position of the club in the National League table meant that many would be wondering whether the 1,003rd game at this level would be a matter of months or years away; sadly, another defeat and an extension of the run points increasingly to the latter. The hope that keeps one going has turned into the slow dawning that the word ‘Concession’ that appears on each page of one’s Season Ticket book may be a reference to watching Woking concede another home defeat.
The return of the usually reliable Nathan Ralph at left back was welcomed, with Louis Ramsey moving to his more natural position of right back, replacing Matt Young who dropped to the bench. Anthony Cook also came into starting line-up in place of Louie Theophanous who started in the depressing performance at Maidenhead and who was not in the squad today.
Bromley, in yellow and managed by the familiar figure of former Woking stalwart Neil Smith, included another ex-Card in midfielder Frankie Sutherland; other notable players in their team included very experienced defender Roger Johnson – over 450 League appearances for Birmingham City, Wolves and others – and FGR loanee striker Omar Bugiel.
The Ravens kicked off towards the KRE, and early exchanges were fairly even. Some good interplay between Isaac and Ferdinand put the Bromley defence under pressure. In the 7th minute, Bromley’s George Porter crumpled in a heap after a ball from Jordan Wynter struck him in the ‘midriff’. Shortly after that, it all kicked off between the two teams when Frankie Raymond floored Kane Ferdinand with an aggressive tackle near the left corner of Woking’s box, which earnt him a yellow card.
A wild shot by Sutherland sailed over the Woking bar and, at the other end, Charlie Carter spurned a great opportunity in the Bromley area by gently dribbling the ball into David Gregory’s hands. On 17 minutes, Nathan Baxter came out to the left hand corner of his box to thwart attempts by two Bromley players to shoot; from his clearance, Regan Charles-Cook broke down the left and passed to Grego-Cox who shot over the Bromley bar.
More Woking pressure led to innocuous attempts at scoring which either flew over the bar or rolled gently into the Bromley keeper’s hands. A cross from Anthony Cook in the 27th minute was headed wide of the goal by Josh Staunton; 3 minutes later, a great ball from Reece Grego-Cox in front of Moaners Corner was met by Charles-Cook’s head but cleared the goal.
Raymond was bought down just outside the Woking box but Sutherland’s free-kick was blocked and flew out for a throw-in; the Woking defence failed to deal with a long ball into the box and Jordan Higgs flew in to nod it into the back of the net and give Bromley a 1-0 lead.
A Woking ball in from the right-wing was lifted towards the top-left corner of Gregory’s goal but he saved it. After 39 minutes, Sutherland blasted the ball over Woking’s wall and to the left of the goal from a free-kick which arose from Chez Isaac bundling Bugiel over on the edge of the box. The first half ended with a Charles-Cook shot being blocked during one minute of time added on.
Half-time: Woking 0 Bromley 1
And so, as the well-worn cliché has it, began a second 45-minute period which was to have a significant bearing on Woking’s immediate future.
In early action, Higgs and Porter both finished on the floor in Woking’s box simultaneously in what appeared to be separate incidents.
In the 54th minute, Cook was bundled over by Dunne who received Bromley’s 3rd yellow card for his troubles. Following the resulting free-kick, which was headed out, Wanadio broke for Woking’s opponents but his ball was knocked out of play. Another free-kick by Cook, from a Sutherland foul on him, narrowly cleared the opposition’s bar and a cross from him was just wide of his brother Regan as he advanced in the Bromley area.
The visitors made their first substitution, with Luke Woolfenden coming on for Dunne.4 minutes later, a ball slotted through to Porter in the Woking box resulted in a blocked shot and a claim turned handball which was turned down; Omar Bugiel became the 3rd visiting player to go into the book, this time for dissent.
Then, in the 67th minute, a corner from the left-hand end of the LGS fell into the Woking goalmouth and, after an initial block, was stabbed home by veteran defender Johnson - a second goal for Bromley.
Brandon Hanlan replaced Bugiel, and shortly afterwards made an impressive run towards goal, only for his to be deflected out for a corner.
On 72 minutes, Sutherland joined the growing list of names that the referee was compiling for a block on Charles-Cook; an upset Neil Smith was spoken to by the 4th official.
Woking made a couple of substitutions in the space of a minute, with Fabio Saraiva coming on for Charles-Cook and Jonathan Edwards for Chez Isaac, while Porter made way for Luke Dennis in the Bromley team.
A Woking ball was played into a dangerous position on 83 minutes but there was no one there to meet it and put it away. Right at the death, after 4 minutes of time added on, Woking won a corner on the CLT side of the pitch; but the resulting kick dropped gently into Gregory’s hands.
Although it had been evenly matched up to the time of Bromley’s first goal, Woking had generally flattered to deceive and were outplayed after that. An all too familiar story; no sense of leadership on the pitch, no passion, no pattern, more often than not losing out in one-on-one balls and, to be honest, no sense that anyone would score even if they’d carried on playing until the middle of June.
There were some exceptions, with Kane Ferdinand generally looking composed and retaining good possession in midfield, and Grego-Cox working hard up front but probably feeling frustrated.
However, as it stands, Woking can only hope that Barrow don’t pick up another point in their remaining games and even then must worry that Torquay is no longer a ‘slumbering giant’.
Woking: Nathan Baxter, Nathan Ralph, Jordan Wynter, Josh Staunton, Louis Ramsey, Kane Ferdinand, Chez Isaac © (Jonathan Edwards 77’), Charlie Carter, Regan Charles-Cook (Fabio Saraiva 76’), Anthony Cook, Reece Grego-Cox
Subs not used: Sam Mason, Matt Young, Joey Jones
Bookings: Isaac 36’
Bromley: David Gregory, Jack Holland ©, Frankie Raymond, Jordan Higgs, Tyrone Sterling, Luke Wanadio, George Porter (Louis Dennis 81’), Roger Johnson, Frankie Sutherland, Alan Dunne (Luke Woolfenden 61’),Omar Bugiel (Brandon Hanlan 68’)
Goals: Higgs 32’, Johnson 67’
Bookings: Raymond 10’, Dunne 54’, Bugiel 65’, Sutherland 72’
Subs not used: Josh Rees, Dan Johnson
Referee: Adam Penwell
Sponsor’s MOTM: Nathan Baxter