Shuffled Cards trump Lions that failed to roar
12:00am, Tue 17th Sep 2019
Woking 2 Millwall U23s 0
18th September 2019
It was a cooler than of late, but pleasant, evening and dry playing conditions for this late arranged friendly against Millwall Under-23s, aimed at giving Woking fringe players and injury returnees an opportunity to press their cases for a place in the League squad, and to run the rule over a handful of trialists.
There was no one in the Cards starting line-up from that for the Ebbsfleet game. Sam Howes (pictured) was given the opportunity to impress in goal, Joe Felix â€“ currently on loan at Farnborough â€“ was in at right back and Jake Gray finally made his first appearance in a Woking shirt, in midfield. There were four trialists in the starting XI; this was a challenge for the reporter â€“ it was not quite the â€˜No Face, No Name, No Numberâ€™ of popular â€˜60s beat combo Trafficâ€™s song, but weâ€™ll refer to them as T1 (hair in a bob, yellow boots left back, and rumoured to have appeared in PSFs), T2 (white hair, centre forward), T3 (midfield) and T4 (started on right wing).
Returning to the Laithwaite Community Stadium for Millwall was one of last seasonâ€™s loanees from Oxford United, Harvey Bradbury â€“ of whom more anon.
Woking kicked off towards the KRE with T2 alone up front, Hodges and T4 on the wings, a midfield of Kretzschmar, Gray and T3, a back four of Felix, Parry, Collier and T1.
Early on, T2 was looking lively and combative in the box. In the first minute, he headed wide of the Lionsâ€™ goal from a Felix cross. On 8 minutes, following some attacking play from Millwall, T1 pushed an excellent ball through towards T2, but a defender intervened; the resulting corner was cleared
Gray was involved in a one-two just outside of the Lionsâ€™ area but sent his shot sailing over the bar. Shortly afterwards, T2 shot towards goal but Millwall keeper Joe Wright got his feet to it and it was cleared. An opportunity for Hodges to score was blocked and deflected out for a corner.
An excellent long ball from Felix found T2â€™s feet in the Millwall area in the 32nd minute, but was saved. 4 minutes later, a Felix cross was headed out for a corner - the first of a string in quick succession for Woking, which were variously headed out by a defender, headed over the KRE by T2 or cleared downfield.
Near the end of the half, an awkward backpass was cleared hastily by Howes for a throw-in on Wokingâ€™s right. He then saved well from a long distance shot, with the ball falling to the feet of a Millwall striker who blasted wide.
This was the final action of a quiet, evenly-balanced first half.
Half-time: Woking 0 Millwall U23s 0
There were no half time substitutions. For Woking, T4 moved from the right to left wing with Gray replacing him on the right.
On 52 minutes, a Millwall player executed a wild shot which cleared Wokingâ€™s bar by some distance.
Hodges then went on a run towards the Lionsâ€™ area only to be floored as is so often his destiny. Kretzschmarâ€™s free kick was blasted over the goal. Another Hodges surge forward ended with the ball being intercepted, resulting in a Woking throw-in.
In the 61st minute, trialist T4 went on a strong run with the ball into the opposition area and his shot diagonally from the left was only partially stopped by Wright before nestling in the back of the net. 1-0 to Woking.
Shortly after that - having been largely inconspicuous to that point - Bradbury moved towards the edge of the Woking area to meet a long ball but collided with Parry. A free kick for Woking resulted, but â€“ in one of his feistier moments â€“ Bradbury also managed to go into the refâ€™s book for dissent, an unusual occurrence for a friendly.
After another â€˜foul on Hodges/Kretzschmar free kick/bar clearedâ€™ combo, Millwall made the first substitution of the game on 71 minutes.
An incisive pass into the area by Felix met the feet of trialist T3 who touched it neatly to his left, and to Wrightâ€™s right, into the net. 2-0 with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Each side made a further substitution on 84 minutes, with trialist T2 being replaced by academy striker Sam Evans for Woking.
A Millwall shot was deflected over Wokingâ€™s bar; the resulting corner fell safely into Howesâ€™ hands. That was the final action of note in the game.
This was a useful exercise and â€“ particularly strong in the second half - the Cards deserved their win against a young Millwall side that is no doubt full of promising players but which failed to gell with an attack that was largely toothless on the night.
Howes had a much quieter time in goal than his counterpart but made a couple of impressive saves. Gray showed glimpses of the ability implied by his career record but probably needs more time working on his fitness before making the starting line-up in a League.
The four trialists generally acquitted themselves well with T1 and T3 particularly impressive; T2 as lively and got into some useful positions in the first half, but his ball control was lacking on a couple of occasions and he faded in the second half.
And Hodges â€“ evading opponents and full of running â€“ Kretzschmar and Felix had excellent games.
Woking: 1 Sam Howes, 19 Joe Felix, Trialist T1, 14 Manny Parry, 12 Nathan Collier, Trialist T3, Trialist T4, 10 Max Kretzschmar, Trialist T2 (Sam Evans 84â€™), 21 Jake Gray, 11 Paul Hodges
Unused subs: 15 Jack Skinner, 13 Craig Ross, Reef Pereis, Oliver Creed
Goals: Trialist T4 61â€™, Trialist T3 76â€™
Millwall 1 Joe Wright, 2 Dan Moss, 3 Bes Topalloj, 4 Billy Mitchell, 5 Harry Ransom Â©, 6 Rob Strachan, 7 Tyler Burey, 8 Reuben Duncan (Jayden David 84â€™), 9 Harvey Bradbury, 10 George Alexander, 11 Junior Tiensia (Sam Skeffington 71â€™)
Unused subs: 13 Leighton Fanshawe, 16 Alex Mitchell
Bookings: Bradbury 66â€™
Referee: Adrian Crouch
Attendance: 100 - 150
Man of the Match: Although Hodges and Kretzschmar both put in a good shift, my MotM is Joe Felix. Always lively and committed, he put in some searching crosses and incisive long balls into the box.