Bees sting late on

Liam O'Sullivan
12:00am, Sat 12th Oct 2019
Barnet 2 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
12th October 2019

Woking’s trip to a drizzly north London saw them undeservedly get 3 points snatched away from them inside the 7th minute of stoppage time. A tireless Woking performance deserved nothing but a win, however the late Barnet equaliser will make the result feel more like a defeat for everyone involved at the club.

This was the Cards’ first visit to The Hive in over 4 years due to Barnet’s spell in the Football League, but the visitors’ performance showed they had no fear going into the game. Alan Dowson was determined to overturn the side’s disappointing form, hence making 4 changes to the starting line-up following their away defeat to Yeovil Town on Tuesday night. Goal scorer of Woking’s sensational consolation goal in that game, Ibrahim Meite, led the front line. Collier and Kretzschmar also came into the starting 11, whilst new signing from Salford City Mark Shelton made his debut starting in central midfield alongside Kane Ferdinand.

It was a lively start from Barnet, who begun the match with plenty of energy. 4 minutes in, and the first threatening chance of the game arose, when Josh Walker linked up well with Simeon Akinola inside the 18-yard box, presenting a wonderful opportunity for Walker. The forward was looking to score for a 4th consecutive game, but his low driven shot was brilliantly stopped by Craig Ross.

The Bees were keeping the ball well in the opening 10 minutes, but on one occasion in the 8th, their passing football almost cost them, when Meite’s high pressing led to Sweeney being dispossessed at the back. The striker had a one on one scenario where he undoubtedly should’ve scored, but instead his outside of the left foot effort fractionally went wide of the post.

Despite this scare, the home side were bombarding the back four with dangerous crosses. Woking’s centre backs Parry and Gerring were resilient nevertheless, and prevented any ball to be met by a Barnet head. In the 14th minute, Woking won a free kick on the left of the penalty area. Dave Tarpey put in a menacing cross deep into the box, and Gerring proved his aerial threat at both ends of the pitch and powerfully beat the defenders to head it into the right of the net. It was the Woking centre half’s first goal of the season, and gave the Cards’ an important goal advantage.

Ben Gerring heads home; pic: David Holmes

The opener shifted the games momentum, and bred confidence into the Woking players as well as the away supporters, who were in full voice encouraging their team to double their lead. As the half went on, the visitors grew more and more into the game and were in full control, dictating the tempo and winning every second ball.

Barnet’s casual nature almost led to another Woking goal in the 35th minute, when skipper Callum Reynolds was caught out by the hard-working Kane Ferdinand. He was almost rewarded with a goal if it wasn’t for the brave goalkeeping of Scott Loach, who crucially got to the ball before the midfielder. 5 minutes later, Loza drove into the box terrifically from the left flank, teeing up Kretzschmar whose promising effort was blocked well. The subsequent corner taken by Tarpey almost found the back of the net directly, but instead hit the crossbar.

Woking’s efforts to double their tally was evident as the half time whistle approached, with each player showing faultless work ethic. Max Kretzschmar had another chance to score on the stroke of half time, where he showed an excellent bit of trickery on the edge of the box before placing a shot towards the bottom left corner, only to be denied by the strong hand of Loach.

Half-time: Barnet 0 Woking 1

The second half begun fairly evenly, with neither team creating any clear-cut opportunities. Josh Casey, who was putting his body on the line for Woking in this game, went down with a head injury just 5 minutes into the second half. Fortunately, the skipper got back onto his feet a couple of minutes later. Moments after play resumed, Kretzschmar found himself in a dangerous area down the left-hand side. He skipped past defenders as though they weren’t there, getting himself in a dangerous position inside the box. The Woking number 10 picked out debutant Mark Shelton on the edge of the box, and he fired his shot first time into the bottom left corner, beating the helpless Loach. This second of the game was a fair reflection of the visitors’ performance, and would’ve been a special moment for the 22-year-old loanee.

Woking continued to be the sharper team following the 2nd goal, but a moment of brilliance from Mauro Vilhete in the 57th minute gave Barnet a glimpse of hope. A mid-section height cross from Sweeney towards the edge of the box didn’t look threatening enough to beat the faultless Woking defence, but Vilhete brilliantly capitalised on the cross and acrobatically volleyed it into the top left corner. This moment of magic from the Barnet fan favourite was certainly against the run of play and didn’t justify the home side’s performance.

Almost reminiscent of how the game’s momentum changed in the first half, once Barnet scored their first, their tails were up and confidence grew within the players. Darren Currie looked to bring on fresh legs and push for an equaliser, bringing on forward-minded players Ephron Mason-Clark and Alfie Pavey. Dowse made a change of his own, taking off goal scorer Mark Shelton, and replacing him with Shaun Donnellan.

Currie’s introduction of Pavey almost paid off instantly, when Vilhete did remarkably well to put in a wonderful cross from the byline, which found the head of the striker inside the 6-yard box but was somehow missed by the number 9. The manager thought it had gone in only to be dumbfounded as to how his striker missed the target from such close range. Barnet were whiskers away from equalising once again in the 74th minute, when other substitute Mason-Clark did exceptionally well from around 25 yards out, where he cut inside onto his favoured right foot, and struck a stinging shot towards the bottom right, only for it to rattle the post.

As expected, the home side were piling on the pressure and giving Woking plenty of work to do at the back. Despite this, the Cards were limiting Barnet from creating any clear-cut opportunities, and were playing out with calmness and confidence. The work rate from each Woking player throughout the game was admirable and merited an away victory.

Controversially, 6 minutes were added on by fourth official Thomas Ratherham to the despair of the Woking coaches, players and supporters. The courage and resilience shown by the visitors was exceptional nonetheless, and each player continued to give 100% defensively. 7 minutes into stoppage time – past the 6 added on – a teasing cross from the left sideline found itself in a promising area inside the 18-yard box. The player introduced from the bench by Darren Currie, Mason-Clark, came up with the goods in the last chance of the game. He leapt above the exhausted Woking defence, and almost mistimed his header, but it ended up bouncing over Craig Ross almost in slow motion, to snatch a point at the death. This was a very cruel goal for Woking to concede, and the timing of the equaliser will certainly be questioned by the Cards.

This draw extends Woking’s run without a win to 9 games. In spite of this dreary reading, the determination and fight shown by Woking in this game should give the Cards plenty of confidence moving forward, as it was a reminder of the quality and spirit they possess.

Woking will look to repeat last season’s cup run next Saturday, as they travel to east London to face a struggling Ebbsfleet United in the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 3 Josh Casey ©, 4 Manny Parry, 5 Ben Gerring, 7 Dave Tarpey, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 10 Max Kretzschmar (2 Jack Cook 92’), 12 Nathan Collier, 18 Ibrahim Meite, 19 Mark Shelton (16 Shaun Donnellan 67’), 22 Jamar Loza (20 Toby Edser 81’)

Unused subs: 1 Sam Howes, 11 Paul Hodges

Goals: Gerring 14’, Shelton 53’

Bookings: Shelton 46’, Kretzschmar 76’, Edser 97’

Barnet 1 Scott Loach, 2 Cheye Alexander, 4 Callum Reynolds ©, 5 Ricardo Santos, 8 Charlee Adams (21 Medy Elito 78’), 14 Simeon Akinola (9 Alfie Pavey 66’), 16 Harry Taylor, 20 Mauro Vilhete, 22 Josh Walker, 23 David Tutonda (27 Ephron Mason-Clark 61’), 26 Dan Sweeney

Unused subs: 24 Aymen Azaze, 18 Wesley Fonguck

Goals: Vilhete 57’, Mason-Clark 97’

Bookings: Sweeney 27’

Referee: Joe Hull

Attendance: 1,651 (318 away)

My Man of the Match: Josh Casey – led by example today, battling hard from start to finish and hardly putting a foot wrong all game.

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