Farnborough 0 Woking 2
31st July 2018
Woking's final fixture of a busy pre-season saw them travel to Farnborough FC, the last opportunity for the Cards to test and tweak before it all starts again proper on Saturday at East Thurrock. Clear blue skies and sunshine lit up the Cherrywood Stadium, a welcomed cool breeze taking the sting out of the heat. On a night where Dowse opted to shuffle his pack, tactically and in terms of personnel, the Cards ran out 0-2 winners and for all Farnborough's persistence, particularly as the second half wore on, it was a fairly straightforward victory in the end.
Kiran Khinda-John was the only player named in the starting line up who started the game at home to Dover on Saturday. Opting for a 3-4-2-1 formation, Woking lined up with Sam Mason in goal, behind a back three of Khinda-John, Danny Choules and Jack Cook (captain). Declan Appau and Charlie Hester-Cook were the midfield anchors, with Reggie Young and Bradley Simms operating as wing-backs, Paul Hodges and Danny Taylor playing in behind Greg Luer who was up top.
The game got off to a bright start with each keeper tested in the opening couple of minutes. Woking had the first opportunity, a quick break from Hodges through midfield found Luer whose shot from 20 yards was well saved by James Stroud, tipping over well to his right side. The following attack from Farnborough then saw Michael Fernandes cut in from the right channel and from 25 yards force a save from Mason, who in spite of the shot being straight down him still had to tip over to prevent it sneaking between him and the underside of the bar.
It set the tone in terms of both sides going back and forth in what would be a fairly even opening half-hour period, without either keeper being properly tested again for a while. Young once again looked the brightest attacking spark for Woking, successfully getting down the Farnborough left and getting to the by-line a couple of times in the first quarter of an hour and unfortunate that his cutbacks could not be met by Luer in the middle. In the 16th minute Farnborough made the first substitution of the game, the starting Trialist going down after a knock in the left back position, replaced by Luke Warner-Eley. Both sides took advantage of the stoppage to have a water-break. Following this, the lively Michael Fernandes, who was Farnborough's best player on the night with rapid turn of pace and quick feet, got involved in instigating a few chances for the home side. Teeing up Connor Calcutt with a chested ball to the edge of the box the strike was struck sweetly and just averted the top right corner. Shortly after, Fernandes won a free kick from Dan Choules, having the subsequent set piece laid off for him to strike just over the bar.
Woking found a breakthrough in the 28th minute; a cross from Young, searching for a head, wound up wrong footing Stroud in the Farnborough goal and sailed into the far left corner. The goal may have had a slight hint of fortune but there was no doubt Young had earned his moment. The goal brought out a more aggressive, spirited display from the Card's for the remainder of the half, with Hester-Cook and Appau starting to really dominate in midfield, winning balls back, forcing errors from the hosts and distributing to the channels with pace and intent. Young fed Hodges from the left and he managed to dig out a shot forcing a good save to the goalkeepers left. Hodges then turned provider a minute later, putting a ball through for Hester-Cook, but the midfielder couldn't quite get his shot off. Taylor did well to nod back for Luer who again couldn't convert the assist, and Appau had a shot blocked from just outside the box following a tidy bit of skill and composure to get past the defender.
Within this 10 minute period before half time, an increasingly frustrated Farnborough responded by forgetting it was a friendly and picked up a couple of yellow cards. Kurtis Cumberbatch went in hard on Taylor next to the left touchline on 37 minutes, Taylor managing to continue after a shaky couple of minutes hobbling about, and Appau was caught high by George Jeacock right in front of the dug out on 41 minutes. It led to a scrappy final few minutes of the half, Woking's endeavour toward the end of the half protecting the 0-1 advantage.
Half Time: Farnborough 0 Woking 1
At half time both sides made changes; for Woking Ross Murdoch and Mike Atkinson replaced Hodges and Taylor, and for Farnborough Khieran Rule, Jack Barton and Jack Battie came on for Nathaniel Oseni, Luke Robertson and Kurtis Cumberbatch respectively.
Woking started the second half with the same intensity they managed to find as the first progressed and doubled their lead in the 47th minute. Jack Cook strode up field and lofted a ball to the left channel for Atkinson who put a ball across for Luer who was unable to get a good contact, the ball spilling out and sitting up nicely for Simms to then strike on the half volley from just inside the box. The keeper got a hand to it but was not able to prevent it going into the bottom right corner.
Bradley Simms strike hits the back of the Farnborough net (pic: David Holmes)
Whilst not as effective as his wing-back colleague Young, Simms had looked lively getting up and down the line and it was pleasing to see him get reward for that persistence. Woking continued to keep the pressure on for a little while after, Hester-Cook being the key man, grafting hard to win back balls in midfield and restart play, in the 54th minute his good work found Young on the left side, linking up well, ultimately feeding Murdoch to stab a toe poke attempt at goal which crawled just wide of the far right post.
On 56 minutes both sides made substitutions, for Farnborough Liam Ever-Marum and Manny Omrore replaced Calcutt and George Jeacock, Han Schran came on for Young who went off to warm applause, another good night's work for the man. On the hour a Trialist came on to replace Greg Luer, but instead of replacing the man up top he slotted into where Young had been on the left, Murdoch moving up as the furthest player forward.
In the 65th minute Barton, for the hosts, went in with another challenge (two-footed and late the clue’s in the name), this time taking down Hester-Cook. It could have easily been a red card but a yellow was shown. A Trialist then came on for Adam Pepera, before Hester-Cook, thankfully not because of the tackle, was then withdrawn to the biggest reception of the night, his hard-graft acknowledged by home and away supporters alike. Bartele Kazimierczak replaced him.
Be it the wave of substitutes for both sides, the cushion of a 0-2 lead, having raised the intensity either side of the break, the cards did drop off somewhat in the last 20 minutes, allowing Farnborough to drive forward but not really cause too much discomfort to the Woking defence who had been solid and showed composure again throughout the night. Fernandes was at the heart of most of Farnborough's attacking endeavour, getting well down the left side and forcing a couple of defensive errors, thankfully only leading to speculative shots from range, landing high and wide. The cards picked up their first caution of the night in the 75th minute, Choules, on the edge of the box, pulling the arm of Enver-Marum, whose resulting free-kick went wide. Woking did manage a couple more advances further forward through Simms, but the game petered out with a few more speculative efforts from the hosts, clearing the goal and stand on a couple of occasions.
Dowse can be pleased that he appears to have healthy competition for places. The defence, despite again being a different combination carried on the composure which has been consistent throughout pre-season. Whilst the opposition lacked a cutting edge, Cook and Khinda-John especially were right place, right time to perpetually head away and get blocks in. The wing backs, particularly Young, really impressed again, and the midfield duo of Hester-Cook and Appau give Dowse a real selection dilemma in the middle of the park. Up front, in terms of alternatives to Ofori-Acheampong, for all the good link up outside the box and hard work, it would have been good to have seen Luer grab a goal to boost his confidence, it just did not fall for him tonight. Ultimately though the score line did fall for Woking, and we head into the weekend following a satisfactory final week of pre-season.
1 James Stroud, 2 George Jeacock (15 Manny Omrore 58'), 3 CJ Fearn (C), 4 Nathaniel Oseni (16 Kieran Rhule 45'), 5 Adam Pepera (20 Trialist 65'), 6 Trialist (18 Luke Warner-Eley 16'), 7 Michael Fernandes, 8 Luke Robertson (12 Jack Barton 45'), 9 Jefferson Louis (19 Trialist 78'), 10 Connor Calcutt (14 Liam Enver-Marum 57'), 11 Kurtis Cumberbatch (Jack Battie 45')
Kurtis Cumberbatch 36', George Jeacock 42', Jack Barton 65'
1 Sam Mason, 2 Bradley Simms, 3 Reggie Young (17 Han Schran 56'), 4 Danny Choules, 5 Jack Cook (C), 6 Kiran Khinda-John, 7 Danny Taylor (12 Ross Murdoch 45'), 8 Declan Appau, 9 Greg Luer (16 Trialist 60'), 10 Charlie Hester-Cook (15 Bartele Kazimierczak 66'), 11 Paul Hodges (14 Mike Atkinson 45')
Adam Guest (GK)
Reggie Young 28', Bradley Simms 48'
Danny Choules 76'
Man Of The Match:
Charlie Hester-Cook, superb graft and commitment in the middle of the park, winning the midfield battles, quickly instigating play and getting forward on a number of occasions, a really strong box-to-box display.