Honours even for Cards in Surrey derby
12:00am, Sat 14th Jul 2018
Sutton United 0 Woking 0
14th July 2018
Woking held local rivals Sutton United to a creditable goalless draw in a match played in baking hot conditions on the 3G pitch at Gander Green Lane.
Chances were few and far between, although substitute Carl Stewart spurned a great opportunity to snatch it at the end.
But at least manager Alan Dowson had another chance to run the rule over his latest batch of trialists as the squad starts to take shape.
It’s hard to believe that only three seasons ago Woking were the top non-league club in Surrey and a division above rivals Sutton.
Now Woking find themselves trying to get out of the National South at the first attempt after relegation last term while Sutton will be looking to go one step further and get promoted to the Football League after making the National play-offs last season.
Having brought in Dowson in the summer, the Cards have made wholesale changes, bringing in players from Dowson’s former club Hampton & Richmond, Dartford and Billericay Town, while most of last year’s squad have departed.
This was the second game of a double header, the first of which saw Woking beat Spellthorne Sports 2-0, with Dowson racing over at half-time to watch the remainder of the Sutton match.
Previous pre-season games had yielded a 3-0 win over Fleet Town and a 3-1 loss to AFC Wimbledon in Gez Sole’s testimonial.
Starting with a 4-4-2 formation, Woking were boosted by the signing of Max Kretzschmar the evening before, returning for his second spell with the club after a stint with Hampton & Richmond.
Dowson also handed starts to ex-Sutton right back Dan Spence, former Kettering Town winger Samson Maagbe and ex-Hull City striker Greg Luer.
Former Watford midfielder Stewart, ex-Forfar and Brechin midfielder James Dale, Hartley Wintney midfielder Paul Hodges and former Reading and Hungerford front man Nic Bignall were also on the bench.
The biggest surprise, however, was the inclusion of Kane Ferdinand, a mainstay in Woking’s midfield last season, but who has yet to sign a contract.
The first chance came in the third minute when Sutton’s Tom Bolarinwa whipped in a dangerous cross from the right which former Card Harry Beautyman narrowly failed to connect with.
After a quiet opening quarter Dowson’s arrival just before the half-hour mark spurred Woking into action.
Moments later Kretzschmar played a defence splitting pass through to the sharp Luer who brought a superb one-handed save from Sutton keeper Jamie Butler that went behind for a corner.
Kretzschmar was at the heart of the action again four minutes later after making space for himself on the edge of the box but his shot sailed over.
With the first half drawing to a close Sutton’s Tommy Wright flashed a long range effort just wide but keeper Jake Hallett, borrowed from Sutton for the match, was never in any danger.
Half-time: Sutton United 0 Woking 0
Sutton rang the changes after the break, bringing on former Cards favourite Aswad Thomas, Dean Beckwith, Kenny Davis, Nicky Bailey and Craig Dundas, on his 500th appearance for the club.
Thomas made an immediate impact, swinging in a corner across the face of goal but the opportunity went begging.
Woking reacted by bringing on Hodges for Maagbe and Bignall for Kretzschmar in the 50th minute with Nick Wheeler switching to the right wing.
Thomas, though, was at it again moments later, this time with Beckwith connecting, but he could only head his chance wide.
Dowson completed his compliment of substitutes by bringing on Dale and Stewart for Ferdinand and Luer respectively in the 58th minute.
With the match entering the closing stages, Spence whipped in a smart cross from the right which was met by Bignall but he headed wide after being muscled out by Beckwith.
Jamie Collins then hung up a deep cross for Ross Lafayette, but the ex-Cards man was well marshalled by Ian Gayle and the chance passed.
In a dramatic finale, Bolarinwa was put through only to see his shot strike the foot of the post and the rebound by Dan Wishart was went comfortably over.
Woking had a golden opportunity to win it in the 85th minute when Collins was caught napping by Bignall.
Trying to round the keeper, Bignall was tackled and the ball fell to Stewart who blasted his chance wide with the goal at his mercy.
Not too disheartened by the late miss, Dowson declared himself happy the overall performance, having gone toe to toe with Sutton.
He also revealed that Luer has agreed a contract and he expects to bring in another striker next week.
He is also on the lookout for another midfielder.
There’s still a long way to go before the start of the season but this was a good test for Woking against a Sutton side with big aspirations for the forthcoming season.
Woking: 1 Jake Hallett, Dan Spence, 3 Josh Casey, 5 Jack Cook, 6 Nathan Collier (C), 7 Samson Maagbe (15 Paul Hodges 50’), 8 Kane Ferdinand (12 James Dale 58’), 9 Greg Luer (16 Carl Stewart 58’), 10 Max Kretzschmar (17 Nic Bignall 50’), 11 Nick Wheeler, 14 Ian Gayle
Unused subs: None
Sutton United: 1 Jamie Butler, 2 Dale Bennett (3 Aswad Thomas 45’), 5 Charlie Clough (4 Dean Beckwith 45’), 6 Jamie Collins (C), 7 Tom Bolarinwa, 9 Ross Lafayette, 11 Kieron Cadogan (16 Nicky Bailey 45’), 15 Craig Eastmond, 19 Harry Beautyman (8 Kenny Davis 45’), 20 Tommy Wright (14 Craig Dundas 45’), 21 Dan Wishart
Unused subs: Seb Brown
Referee: Paul Johnson
Man of the Match: Nathan Collier. Led from the front with a typically dogged display, breaking up play in the middle of the park and was the start of many of Woking’s best attacks