Cards fall at first hurdle as Reid scores again

Will Thompson
12:00am, Tue 22nd Oct 2019
Woking 0 Ebbsfleet United 1
FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round
22nd October 2019

Woking crashed out of the FA Cup after falling to a desperately disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Ebbsfleet United in their fourth qualifying round replay. After bringing the tie back to Kingfield with a 1-1 draw at Stonebridge Road on Saturday, a solitary first-half Alex Reid goal was enough to send ‘The Fleet’ through to a first-round tie with Notts County.

On a cool, dry autumn’s evening, The Cards lined up in what looked like a fluid 3-5-2 formation, with Craig Ross retaining his place in goal. Nathan Collier, Ben Gerring and Jack Cook lined up in the centre of defence, whilst Josh Casey and Max Kretzschmar filled the wing back positions. Kane Ferdinand and Shaun Donnellan took up the deeper central midfield roles, behind Toby Edser in a more advanced position. Dave Tarpey and Ibrahim Meite started up front. The Fleet included a number of familiar faces in their line-up, including former Cards Jack King and Frankie Sutherland.; Gozie Ugwu started on the bench.

After a slow start, Donnellan managed the game’s first shot, but it was comfortably gathered by Jordan Holmes in the Ebbsfleet goal. Four minutes later, tricky play from Casey on Woking’s left brought a foul from Sutherland, winning The Cards a free-kick in a dangerous position. Unfortunately, Tarpey was unable to produce one of his finer efforts and Holmes safely collected his attempt.

In the 16th minute, Tarpey won himself a free-kick in a very similar position. The first ball was headed away, however Donnellan volleyed the clearance back at Holmes’ goal which he tipped around the post for a corner. Unhappily for The Cards though, it came to nothing. Three minutes later, yet another Tarpey free-kick flew comfortably wide of the goal.

The home side were dominating proceedings at this point, without managing to create any clear-cut openings, and were made to pay for their lack of penetration in the 24th minute when The Fleet took the lead against the run of play. A corner was swung into the Woking six-yard box by Curtis Weston, where Alex Reid was waiting unmarked to glance a header past Ross and into the back of net.

The Cards almost got back on level terms immediately, as Meite burst into the box and turned his marker brilliantly; however his shot was well blocked. The final 20 minutes of the half were fairly uneventful, Woking having lost their early control of the game and Ebbsfleet perhaps beginning to look the more threatening side.

Indeed, the best moment of the remainder of the half did come from the away side, Fleet striker Josh Umerah collecting a throw-in and driving strongly past his marker, but fortunately for The Cards sending his fierce shot into the side netting. Right on the stroke of half-time, another Woking free-kick from a dangerous position was comfortably cleared, providing a very appropriate ending to a disappointing half for the Surrey side.

Half-time: Woking 0 Ebbsfleet United 1

Both managers sent out unchanged sides for the second half - Cards manager Alan Dowson was no doubt looking for more cutting edge from his players - but it was the Kent side that began the half well on top. In the 47th minute, Sutherland had a great chance to double Ebbsfleet’s lead, however his free header from a deep Marvel Ekpiteta cross was well saved by Ross in the Woking goal. The Cards were struggling to make any impact on the second half, and it was no surprise to see Dowson make his first change, replacing Meite with Jake Hyde in the 57th minute.

Four minutes later, Paul Hodges replaced Shaun Donnellan, and the changes seemed to temporarily lift The Cards, Edser sending Woking’s first effort of the half over the bar.

Unfortunately, The Fleet gradually began to get themselves back on top and in the 68th minute, Casey was forced to take a booking after cynically fouling a Fleet player as he was about to break into the box. The resulting free-kick was played across to former Card Jack King, whose goal-bound shot was deflected just wide and out for a corner.

Umerah was then booked in the 71st minute for persistent fouling, but from the resulting free-kick Ebbsfleet broke and Reid’s dangerous shot was deflected out brilliantly by the Woking defence for a corner. Ayo Obileye replaced Alex Lawless for the away side and Jamar Loza took over from Kretzschmar for The Cards soon after, but the flow of the game didn’t change and time ticked away with the game seemingly drifting towards an inevitable conclusion.

In the 84th minute, Jack Cook did find a way into the Ebbsfleet penalty area, but his cut-back evaded all his team-mates and Ebbsfleet were able to clear. Loza hammered a tough chance over the bar shortly after.

The Cards had one last chance to send the tie into extra time as the game moved into injury-time, with Hodges breaking from his own half and playing the ball forward to Hyde down the right wing. Unfortunately, his dangerous-looking cross was well cleared, and the full-time whistle blew shortly after to bring another very disappointing Woking performance to a close.

Dowson’s side actually made a decent start, dictating most of the play for the first 25 minutes but without looking particularly threatening. After Ebbsfleet took the lead from another poorly defended corner, The Cards struggled to create anything of note – particularly in the second half - to threaten a Fleet defence that has only kept one clean sheet all season. When combined with the fact his side don’t look particularly solid at the back, it’s clear there are growing problems for the Woking boss to solve.

The Tyreke Johnson injury was a massive blow and results have taken a nose-dive in his absence. However, Woking may not see him again at all this season, and having now failed to win in 11 games, it is no surprise that in his post-match interview Dowse confirmed that he will be looking to make changes to his squad

Woking: Craig Ross, Nathan Collier, Josh Casey, Jack Cook, Ben Gerring, Max Kretzschmar (Jamar Loza 76’), Kane Ferdinand, Sean Donnellan (Paul Hodges 61’), Toby Edser, Ibrahim Meite (Jake Hyde 57’), Dave Tarpey

Unused subs: Sam Howes, Manny Parry, Mark Shelton, Godfrey Poku

Bookings: Casey 68’

Ebbsfleet United Jordan Holmes, Jack King, Alex Lawless (Ayo Obileye 72’), Andre Blackman, Myles Weston, Josh Umerah, Alfie Egan, Frankie Sutherland, Tyler Cordner, Marvel Ekpiteta, Alex Reid (Gozie Ugwu 90’)

Unused subs: Lawrie Wilson, Harry Palmer, Jamie Grimes, Tomi Adeloye

Goals: Reid 24’

Bookings: Sutherland 8’, Lawless 29’, Umerah 71’, Ekpiteta 79’

Referee: Adrian Quelch

Attendance: 942

Man of the Match sponsored by HSL Building Services: Dave Tarpey. Worked hard but received little service.

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