Bugiel Brace Beats Below Par Cards

Alex Thrower
12:00am, Thu 26th Dec 2019
Woking 0 Sutton United 2
Vanarama National League
26th December 2019

First Half:

Two first-half strikes- including a goal of the season contender- from Omar Bugiel were enough to give Sutton United all three points against a woeful Woking side on Boxing Day.

After their away game against Ebbsfleet United was postponed, the Cards had had to wait eleven days to make up for their 3-1 loss at Kingstonian- an unprecedented break during the festive season. There were just two changes to the side who played in that FA Trophy defeat. Moussa Diarra overcame an injury to replace Nathan Collier in defence, and Shaun Donnellan was preferred to Max Kretzschmar in the midfield. Josh Casey and Craig Ross continued their record of starting every league game for Woking this season.

Despite the torrential rain swirling around the Laithwaite Community Stadium for much of the morning, the pitch looked in excellent condition, a testament to the hard work of Colin Galliford and his team. The rain didn’t ease off as the 2257 fans inside the ground took their positions for Woking’s final home game of the decade.

Those fans- 127 of whom made the journey from Sutton - had barely sat down when the away side took the lead through a dazzling Bugiel strike after just 45 seconds. A free kick inside the away side’s half- shooting towards the Kingfield Road end- was hit long by New Zealand international Nik Tzanev. The on-loan AFC Wimbledon keeper’s ball was met by Ben Gerring, but could only be headed as far as Omar Bugiel, the Lebanese striker meeting the ball perfectly on the volley, sending the ball, dipping and swerving into the top right corner from 25 yards out. Craig Ross - as stunned as the fans - could only watch as it passed, as Woking faced a first home defeat since 4-0 defeat by Notts County on the 29th October.

That goal, Bugiel’s fourth in five days following his hat-trick against Wrexham last time out, appeared to knock the stuffing out of Woking before they had even had the chance to get into the game. The Cards failed to get any significant hold on the half barring a Dave Tarpey cross-cum-shot that was clawed away well by an alert Tzanev. Just moments after the away side- unbeaten now in six National League games- worked the ball into the Woking area but captain Eastmond could only poke a shot wide of the target from close range.

With half of the first period passing without much threat by the Cards, it was Ferdinand - celebrating three years to the day since his Woking debut - who was unlucky not to level the scores. A Josh Casey corner, in-swinging from the right under the Leslie Gosden Stand, was kept alive through Diarra and Gerring, the latter dinking the ball back into the area, but the oncoming Ferdinand’s header deflected off a Sutton head and went over the bar.

Sutton’s counter from the subsequent corner saw Tommy Wright bearing down on the Woking goal wide from the left, but he perhaps had too much time to consider his options and Godfrey Poku was able to get back and block brilliantly from the 23 year old striker - having an excellent season for The U’s having missed most of the last campaign with a serious knee injury.

The resulting corner from Poku’s block was dealt with poorly by the Woking defence, cleared only as far as Will Randall whose low cross back into the area was deflected only as far as Bugiel, the prolific marksmen hitting a hard shot straight at Ross, but the ball found its way under the Woking keeper and into the back of the net. Having been able to find a slight foothold on the game, the Cards will have been disappointed to find themselves 2-0 down on the half-hour mark.

With all the noise now coming from the small band of travelling Sutton supporters, Woking again tried to find a route back into the contest. That route largely took the shape of Casey set pieces, with a corner on the 38th minute being punched over by Tzanev. The following corner, taken by Tarpey on the other side, swung dangerously into the Sutton area but the young keeper again tipped it over the bar confidently.

The disappointment and frustration caused by Sutton’s second goal and the inability to get back into the contest was evident. Dave Tarpey was perhaps fortunate not to go into referee Paul Howard’s book- officiating his eighth National League game of the season and an official known for being liberal with his cards- for an off-the-ball- altercation.

Perhaps the most entertaining action of the first half for the home fans was the fourth official going to signal two minutes of additional time and instead showing a total of zero minutes added. The enjoyment in this throughout the crowd demonstrated how poor Woking were on the field. The final piece of action in the first half saw a Casey free kick being hit tamely from the half-way line into the arms of Tzanev.

It was clear that if the Cards wished to continue to stake a serious claim to finishing in the play-off spots this season, a monumental shift in performance would be required in the second half.

Half-time: Woking 0 Sutton United 2

An attacking-minded substitution at the break from Woking saw Shaun Donnellan come off for Paul Hodges, with the Cards desperate to find a way back into the contest. Having scored 706 league goals this decade, Woking knew it would take at least another two to make this a respectable score line against a Sutton side eleven points worse off than them in the National League.

However, although the weather improved, the Cards’ performance did not. Ben Gerring picked up his sixth booking of the season, pulling down Bugiel as the Sutton forward tried to break and collect his second match ball in as many games. A series of free kicks for Woking around the half-way line came to nothing as the away side dug in and contained the Cards impressively.

Just after the hour mark Woking broke from a Sutton corner, but The U’s tracked back well and following a number of appeals for a penalty - the main for a handball - Casey was the second Woking man to go in Howard’s book, for dissent. He was followed soon after by Moussa Diarra, the Frenchman receiving a yellow for his part in a scuffle following a Woking attack that led to nothing.

In the 77th minute, Woking were presented with their best chance of the game. A free kick by Casey from just inside the Sutton half down the left flank looped its way into the area- the wind causing havoc with the long ball throughout the afternoon- before being headed back across the six-yard box by Hyde. Dave Tarpey, so often the most reliable of finishers, was unable to get the ball out from under his feet and instead of tapping into an open net, the ball came off his heel and away from danger.

It would have been not just a way of making a grandstand finish, but also Woking’s first shot on target in the game. Alas, that was the clearest opportunity the home side created in the game and Sutton were able to create several chances to turn the victory into a rout. First, substitute Dundas broke well but captain Eastmond’s shot from the edge of the area was saved well by the feet of Ross. Second, a good run down the right by Ajiboye saw the former Brighton man test the Woking keeper again, this time forcing Ross to tip a shot into the side netting.

With five minutes added at the end of the second half, much of the home crowd felt they’d seen enough and filed out of the Laithwaite Community Stadium. With a tough trip to Torquay just three days after this defeat, Woking have the perfect opportunity to respond, having fallen from 4th to 6th in the National League. Sutton’s unbeaten run continues as they move up to 16th but the Cards will have the chance for revenge almost instantly, with the return fixture at Gander Green Lane on New Year’s Day.

Woking (4-3-3) : 13. Craig Ross, 2. Jack Cook, 3. Josh Casey (C), 6. Moussa Diarra, 5. Ben Gerring, 16. Shaun Donnellan (11. Paul Hodges 45’), 8. Kane Ferdinand, 14. Godfrey Poku (10. Max Kretzschmar 74’), 22. Jamar Loza, 7. Dave Tarpey, 9. Jake Hyde

Unused subs: 1. Sam Howes, 12. Nathan Collier, 24. Jake Gray

Goals: None

Bookings: Gerring 52’ Casey 61’ Diarra 68’

Sutton United (4-4-2) 13. Nik Tzanev, 2. Louis John, 4. Jon Barden, 5. Ben Goodcliffe, 8. Kenny Davis, 9. Omar Bugiel, (14. Craig Dundas 79’) 15. Craig Eastmond (C), 18. Will Randall, 20. Tommy Wright (27. Aaron Jarvis 85’), 22. Ben Wyatt, 28. Kyel Reid (David Ajiboye 62’)

Unused subs: 10. Harry Beautyman, 24. Rob Milsom,

Bookings: Eastmond 57’ Barden 77’

Goals: Bugiel 1’, 29’

Referee: Paul Howard

Attendance: 2,257 (127 away)

Sponsors Player of the Match Dave Tarpey

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