No away Terrors for Woking as the season starts with a brace of wins
12:00am, Tue 6th Oct 2020
Weymouth 0 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
6th October 2020
Having made the first of this season’s longer away day journeys, Dowse named a squad largely unchanged from the weekend’s home victory against Solihull Moors, with John Goddard making his first start for the Cards this season, replacing Kretzschmar out on the wing. The same midfield which transformed the game against Solihull Moors - Ferdinand, Cooper and Block - remained in place for a game Woking went into expecting much of the possession.
Weymouth made three changes to their starting line-up, after playing out a rather dull 0-0 affair against Altrincham on the weekend. A Weymouth player to watch out for was Josh McQuoid, a former Aldershot player now captaining the Terras, whose starting eleven featured a mere five players originating from AFC Bournemouth’s academy. However, despite the odd glimpse of a chance for the home side, Woking’s travels started solidly, with a watertight defensive performance securing a first away win and clean sheet of the season, a goal from lone striker and new signing Slavi Spasov making the difference in a 0-1 win for the Cards.
The game started slowly, with the first chance falling for Weymouth, a dragged effort from Tom Whelan sparing Cardinal blushes inside the first three minutes. This must have spurred on the Woking midfield, who presumed almost uninterrupted possession of the ball for the following 20 minutes. From the very first Woking corner in the 15th minute, Josh Casey’s deliveries were sublime, his crosses causing no end of trouble for young Weymouth goalkeeper Jack Bycroft, who failed to confidently parry away a single cross throughout the entire game.
Indeed, it was a Woking corner which triggered the first incident of the game, with a back post header by Saul Shotton from a Casey cross (the latter a recurring theme) seeming to hit the hand of one of a multitude of Weymouth defenders littered across the line. The one joy of the lack of crowds is the clarity with which one can now hear the players’ frustration with the referee, and the Cards were in full voice calling for a penalty, waved away by ‘new to National League’ referee Daniel Lamport.
Within five minutes of the first penalty shout, another one swiftly arrived, with Charlie Cooper on the end of a clumsy nudge in the back on the penalty spot - again waved away by the referee, again vocally challenged by Woking players. Tempers were clearly flared, as just minutes after this, new-signing Malachi Napa was booked - not for a sturdy challenge on the halfway line, but his subsequent dissent. Events further fired up; John Goddard was able to break away on the counter, but Weymouth defender Brennan Camp (grandson of the late Bristol City player, Gerry Gow) promptly grounded him, gaining a yellow card in the process.
But it was on the stroke of half time that Woking’s constant high press reaped its rewards. After another dazzling skill, Malachi Napa won a free kick 40 yards out, next to the right-hand by-line. Up steps captain Josh Casey, curling a delightful in-swinger across goal to the back-post, piloted across to the bottom corner by a wonderful Slavi Spasov diving header; 0-1. Weymouth’s keeper again failed to dominate his box, though was notably let-down by a high defensive line. Dowse’s side entered the break buoyant, having dominated the run of play for the first 45 minutes, and finally gaining a goal for their efforts.
Half-time: Weymouth 0 Woking 1
With no changes for either side at the break, Woking continued to dominate possession, though struggled again to break down a perpetually compact Weymouth defence in the final third. The only sights of danger created by Woking in the first 10 minutes of the second half were Malachi Napa’s driving runs, who at one point cut past four Weymouth fielders to spread it wide to the eager Goddard out wide. From this point on, the Woking midfield trio of Charlie Cooper, Kane Ferdinand and Tommy Block simply oozed confidence, dictating play throughout the second half, and comfortably disassembling any promising Weymouth attacks.
Tempers again came to a head when Weymouth’s right back picked up the ball for a throw-in before the ball departed the pitch, initially not spotted by the referee, causing much upset for captain Casey, though soon corrected by his assistant. Peculiarly, no yellow card was given, despite yet more angst shown on the side line from the Woking coaching staff. Weymouth again caused trouble for themselves, a wild lunge on a breaking Slavi Spasov gifting Casey another cross and Weymouth midfielder Jordan Ngalo a yellow card. Ensuing this set piece threat, Weymouth made a double substitution, with Wakefield on for McCarthy, and Aldershot-loanee Alefe Santos replacing captain Josh McQuoid.
Finally, the game started to open up with 20 minutes remaining, but Weymouth’s first dangerous attack since the 4th minute was stamped out by a perfectly timed slide-tackle from Jack Cook, triggering another Weymouth substitution, this time the booked Ngalo off for Andy Robinson.
With 10 minutes remaining, the final events of the game occurred, again, more Woking chances, again, dictated by Josh Casey deliveries from set pieces. First, a floated ball across the 6-yard, Weymouth’s keeper hopelessly missing a punch clear, resulting in a goal mouth scramble with the ball bouncing around the goal line before finally being punted clear. Just moments later and again Weymouth fail to learn their lessons, a Casey corner whipped across from the left-hand-side being thumped onto the crossbar by a flying Charlie Cooper. For the final minutes, Weymouth could offer little challenge to a stalwart Woking back line, the only event being Dowson switching strikers by subbing on Connor Hall for the goal scorer Slavi Spasov.
Full time, and Woking have their first away win at the first time of asking. A dominant performance, though one surprisingly marked only by a single goal. All Cards fans should be pleased by an assured defensive performance, and a midfield which seemed to possess unerring confidence on the ball. Next up, another away fixture, this time at Chesterfield, and a chance to continue what has already been a superb start to the season.
Woking: Craig Ross, Josh Casey, Jack Cook, Saul Shotton, Nathan Collier, Charlie Cooper, Kane Ferdinand, Tommy Block, John Goddard, Slavi Spasov (Connor Hall 86’), Malachi Napa
Unused subs: Harvey White, Dave Tarpey, Max Kretzschmar, Tyler Reid
Goals: Spasov 45’
Bookings: Napa 39’
Weymouth Jack Bycroft, Brennan Camp, Jordan Ngalo (Andy Robinson 72’), Jake McCarthy (Josh Wakefield 59’), Ben Thomson, Josh McQuoid (Alefe Santos 59’), Josh Leslie-Smith, Calvin Brooks, Cody Cooke, Tom Whelan, Ollie Harfield
Unused subs: Gerard Benfield, Jack Hoey
Bookings: Camp 40’, Ngalo 58’, Brooks 85’
Referee: Daniel Lamport
Man of the Match: Josh Casey. Every single free-kick and corner taken by this man caused trouble for the Weymouth back line, he even bagged himself an assist for the Spasov goal. Defensively, he was vocally in charge of a defence which secured its first clean sheet of the season. Honourable mention goes to Malachi Napa, whose dribbling caused no end of danger, winning multiple free kicks, including the one leading to the Spasov goal.