Cards relegated after brave loss to Dover
12:00am, Sat 28th Apr 2018
Woking 1 Dover Athletic 2
Vanarama National League
28th April 2018
Charlie Carter’s first half goal was not enough to keep Woking in the National League as they lost 2-1 to play-off contenders Dover Athletic on the final day of the season.
Woking hit the bar and came close through Jones and Cook in the first half but were ultimately made to pay as Dover scored a late winner as The Cards searched for an winner. Despite Barrow’s loss at home to already relegated Chester, a strong defensive performance from Dover frustrated the home side.
Woking welcomed Dover on a vital final day in the National League season. The Cards knew anything but a win would mean they would be relegated to sixth tier of English football and also knew a win may not have been enough if Barrow were to match their result against already relegated Chester FC. It was a season that had started with much promise for the home side but eventually unravelled with three league wins achieved throughout the whole of 2018 seeing The Cards slip down the table.
Woking were nearly given the perfect start through top-scorer Charlie Carter in the 3rd minute. Carter was unmarked at the back post from an attacking corner but couldn’t guide the ball past Mitch Walker. Carter nearly forced the ball in again from a corner in the 5th minute as Woking enjoyed a positive start. Joey Jones cut inside from the right and drove a comfortable shot to Walker’s bottom right-hand post. Nathan Ralph was then booked for a strong challenge as the visitors tried to break in the 13th minute.
Mitchell Pinnock fired an ambitious free-kick over from 30 yards as the visitors tried to reply to the home side’s early pressure. An early Chester goal at Barrow upped the stakes as Woking sniffed a slim chance of staying up.
Woking were typically undone from a set-piece as has been a common theme all season. Giancarlo Gallifuoco headed home unmarked from Dover’s first corner of the game. Baxter was routed to his spot as Gallifuoco’s powerful header flew into the bottom right-hand corner in the 26th minute - a sucker-punch after a positive start for the home side. Carter bent a shot wide from the edge of the box as The Cards searched for the elusive equaliser.
Carter finally finished with his fourth chance of the game to rejuvenate the Cards’ hope. Reece Grego-Cox was played through to the byline by Louis Ramsey. Grego-Cox played a composed cutback past the onrushing Dover keeper to Carter of the edge of the six-yard box; he took his first touch, swivelled and fired into the roof of the net to send Kingfield into raptures with ten minutes of the first half remaining.
Josh Staunton nearly gave the Cards the lead but Walker tipped over straight after the equaliser as a flurry of glorious chances then fell for the home side just before half time. Firstly, Anthony Cook was unmarked in the box but Walker made himself big and tipped behind for a corner as Cook fired his shot. From the resulting corner, Carter nearly doubled his tally for the afternoon; his header agonisingly crashed off the bar and was eventually cleared from the Dover defence as a sense of belief rippled around Kingfield.
This brought an end to a pulsating first half where Woking certainly had the chances to be leading. A lapse in concentration from a corner allowed Dover to take the lead through Gallifuoco but Woking fought back bravely and were level at the break thanks to Carter’s equaliser.
Half-time: Woking 1 Dover 2
The second half started in less frantic manner as both sides understandably had a lot to lose at different ends of the table. A raking cross field ball from Jones found the onrushing Louis Ramsey in the box, Ramsey drilled a powerful cross which Walker was once again equal too on the hour. Staunton agonisingly headed wide from a free header at a corner as the Cards desperately searched for a second. It was worth noting that Barrow had also equalised in their game on the hour mark against Chester.
Jones and Isaac lashed wildly over from long range as Woking’s search became increasingly desperate past the halfway point in second half. Pinnock fired over from long range for the visitors with 20 minutes remaining as they also needed a win. Carter was found again in the box by Ramsey but his looping header was well held by Walker again. Yet again, it was Carter who came close, in the 75th minute, as he stabbed agonisingly wide. Anthony Cook then made way for his brother Regan Charles-Cook.
Staunton then made a fantastic block from Pinnock to head over the bar as the game became increasingly frantic. To make things even more agonising, Chester had found the lead again at Barrow; it was certainly going to be a frantic final ten minutes.
Theophanous was then introduced in the final stages as the game suddenly became all or nothing. Azeez narrowly headed over for the visitors with five minutes remaining. Baxter saved well as Dover looked to spring a counter attack in the final stages.
Dover eventually sealed The Cards fate through Marsh-Brown as the home side threw the kitchen sink at Dover in search of a winner. Marsh-Brown fired home unmarked from a cutback.
Agonisingly, results had gone in Woking’s favour but an experienced second half from Dover meant that Woking’s fate was sealed. A flurry of missed chances in the first half at 1-1 was probably the turning point in the game. It was a brave display from the home side but was ultimately not enough on the day. The Cards will be back in The National League South next season after six seasons in the top flight of non-league football. Despite the relegation, the home supporters in the Laithwaite Community Stadium gave a generally sympathetic send-off following the whistle.
They will rebuild and comeback stronger.
Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsey, Nathan Ralph, Jordan Wynter, Josh Staunton, Joey Jones (Louie Theophanous 83’), Chez Issac (Bobson Bawling 72’), Anthony Cook (Regan Charles-Cook 75’), Charlie Carter, Reece Grego-Cox
Unused Subs: Richard Orlu, Sam Mason
Bookings: Ralph 13’
Goals: Carter 38’
Dover: Mitch Walker, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Manny Parry (Liam Bellamy 45’), Connor Essam, Kevin Lokko, Femi Ilesanmi, Mitch Brundle ©, Nortei Nortey (Keanu Marsh-Brown 67’), Mitchell Pinnock, Anthony Jeffrey, Ryan Bird (Ade Azeez 45’)
Unused subs: Kadell Daniel, Josh Passley
Goals: Gallifuoco 26’, Marsh-Brown 90’
Referee: Peter Gibbons
Sponsors’ MotM: Joey Jones, who screened the back four comfortably and played some eye-catching cross-field balls.