East Thurrock United 0 Woking 1
Vanarama National League South
Saturday 4th August 2018
The new look Woking side started life in the Conference South on a radiant afternoon in Essex and there was a good following for Dowseâ€™s first game at the helm. The playing surface was understandably quite hard given the heat of late and Woking were missing a few. Ofori-Acheampong wasnâ€™t risked given a reported groin tweak and Jack Cook didnâ€™t make the bench, as was expected.
The â€˜Rocksâ€™ had a couple of their own absentees; Sam Higgins (star striker from last season) had to get married and their manager attended also, a perfectly reasonable arrangement for the first day of the season
The early exchanges saw Woking struggle to get a hold of the game and the Cards fans were quietened as East Thurrock dominated the ball. Their two imposing centre backs and their debutant Paul Konchesky were dealing with the somewhat isolated Hyde with relative ease. Hyde was energetic however and chased down a wayward back pass to the Rocks keeper which unsettled their defence somewhat. The first clear chance fell for Hyde in the 12th minute following a through ball from Saraiva. He was clear of the last man and his shot bobbled past the left post; he will have felt he should have done better.
A notable feature of the first half was long throws into the box from East Thurrockâ€™s Harry Lee; one of these followed a period of header ping pong between the sides and was almost bundled over the line but Schotterl managed to keep it out despite the home crowd's protestations that the ball had crept in.
Hyde was diligently chasing lofted balls up to him from the Woking defence and he was called up by the referee a few times for challenging for the ball which seemed harsh. The East Thurrock defence was well versed in the art of grappling and dealt with the aerial exchanges without consternation.
Around the 30 minute mark Woking were starting to get the ball on the floor and move it around with a little more fluency. Saraiva mistouched during one of these moves and put it a late challenge resulting in a booking. Space was starting to open up and East Thurrockâ€™s number 9 took a speculative lofted shot after winning the ball from a dalliance by Collier, which floated over the bar but was a bit of a scare for the Cards.
Towards the end of the half Woking were getting a lot of crosses in from the left from Casey and Wheeler but were unable to capitalise; it was a shame Ofori-Acheampong wasnâ€™t on the field as his aerial presence would have been very handy!
The last action of the half saw a counter attack from East Thurrock from a Woking corner; Tom Derry was through on the Woking goal and there was a robust coming together between him and Schotterl just outside the Woking box with Collier almost sandwiched between them. A foul was given against Derry but there was no malice on his part and the half time whistle was blown shortly after.
It was a frustrating first half for Woking who for the most part were mirroring East Thurrockâ€™s aerial tactics; Jolley and Ferdinand had struggled to get a hold of the ball and notwithstanding Hydeâ€™s vigorous running and harrying, he would have benefitted from some extra support. Neither keeper really had anything notable to contend with.
Half-time: East Thurrock United 0 Woking 0
Reggie Young came on for Saraiva and went on the left wing; this position was filled by Wheeler in the first half with Saraiva at number ten. Wheeler went onto the right and Kretzschmar moved into a central role. The heat was clearly having an effect as space was starting to open up and both teams started to show more endeavour. East Thurrockâ€™s right back got free in an advanced position on the right wing early on and had an unconvincing effort easily dealt with by Schotterl.
Reggie Young really showed his pedigree with a deft touch from a throw, through which he bamboozled his marker on the left wing and progressed the play, nothing came of it but was a sign of things to come from him. His willingness to take the ball and run at the defence looked to galvanise those around him and Wokingâ€™s play became livelier.
East Thurrock persisted with the long throw-ins but there was less of these to contend with in the second half as Woking looked to play on the floor more with less misplaced hopeful passes. Woking were winning more and more corners but struggling to make these count; a few were too close to the oppositionâ€™s keeper and the others dealt with by their enforcing centre halves.
Kane Ferdinand was having an increasing influence with his range of passing; Jolley, however, generally had an afternoon to forget and was subbed towards the end when Khinda-John came on. At the 60 minute mark East Thurrock substituted their centre forward with a like replacement and not long after Marlow had a hopeful long range attempt on the Woking goal which passed over the bar.
Paul Hodges came on for Wheeler and added to the spirited attacking play from Woking, giving a good ball from the right for Hyde whose shot was collected by the keeper. This period saw an instance of great combination play between Casey and Young, Young put a ball across which was gathered by Ferdinand at the edge of the box, his first effort was blocked by a defender, it came back to him and his second attempt was again thwarted by a last ditch block off the line by another defender.
Woking were really putting the pressure on, Young looking confident and assured and it felt a goal was due. The East Thurrock players were trying to kill the game at this point and looked to be settling for a draw. Kretzschmar put a dangerous free kick into the box from the right which was controlled by Kane- let on to Young on the left who pulled back to Kretzschmar in the box whose shot was again cleared off the line!
Heading up to the 90 minute mark, Kretzschmar zipped a well weighted ball through the defence for Young to run onto. He managed to round the keeper but his angle to goal was too acute; he played a ball back for Hyde who did not connect cleanly and the chance was gone.
Into stoppage time and Casey played a ball down the left wing for Young who brilliantly knocked it past their left back and burnt him for pace; he passed him and was heading into the box before being fouled by a nudge from the said left back and Woking were awarded a penalty. This was a somewhat soft penalty but it cannot be said that it was undeserved given the general run of play in the second half.
It took an age for this penalty to be taken as the East Thurrock players were protesting furiously and holding up the proceedings. Konchesky went as far to kick the ball off the spot and was subsequently booked; a player of his experience should know better than to resort to such unsavoury divertive actions. East Thurrockâ€™s captain, Burns, was also booked for dissent. Following all this Kretzschmar stepped up to confidently blast the ball into the roof of the net, just to left of centre of the keeper who dived the other way. Cue jubilant scenes with fans and players celebrating as one and the final whistle coming shortly after.
Max fires home the winner from the penalty spot (pic: David Holmes)
In the end it was a fair result as Woking dominated the second half and could have had a few extra goals if the finishing was more composed. The first half was not a good display from the Cards, as Dowse noted in his post-match interview and Woking will need to reproduce the second half display on a consistent basis to meet expectations this season. Attention now turns to St. Albans at home on Tuesday night and the Cards will be hoping for another victory to keep the good start going.
Berti Schotterl, Dan Spence, Josh Casey, Christian Jolley (Kiran Khinda-John 80â€™), Ian Gayle, Nathan Collier, Max Kretzschmar, Kane Ferdinand, Jake Hyde, Fabio Saraiva (Reggie Young 45â€™), Nick Wheeler (Paul Hodges 68â€™).
: Greg Luer, Sam Mason.
East Thurrock United:
Jack Giddens, Danny Harris, Tom Stephen, Paul Konchesky, Lee Burns, Ryan Scott, Ben Marlow, Harry Lee, Danilo Orsi-Dadamo (Gabe Kellum 76â€™), Tom Derry, Albert Levett (Jack Simmons 60â€™).
Lewis Knight, Sammy Knott
Konchesky 95â€™, Lee Burns 95â€™
Man of the Match: Reggie Young
, made a real difference as a half time substitute. His nifty touches and direct running throughout caused all sorts of problems for the opposition and won the penalty at the death which sealed victory.