Woking 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Tuesday, 13th October 2020
The Cards brushed off the 4-0 defeat to Chesterfield at the weekend as they returned to winning ways by putting in a superb performance at The Laithwaite Community Stadium, comfortably beating Dagenham & Redbridge 2-0 and moving up to sixth place in the National League.
Dowse made two changes to the starting side, with Dave Tarpey coming in for John Goddard and Ben Dempsey, who signed again earlier in the week on-loan from Charlton Athletic, coming into the team in place of Tommy Block, who was on the substitutes bench.
Woking were out of the traps fast, pressurising Dagenham & Redbridge in all areas of the pitch and looked sharp from the off, intent on putting the weekend defeat behind them.
The visitors, who had picked up three points from their opening three league games, were dealt a blow in the 4th minute, when their striker Paul McCallum picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Adrian Clifton.
The pressure nearly told and the Cards nearly took the lead in the 7th minute, when Josh Casey floated in a delightful cross from the right, finding Kane Ferdinand 10 yards out, but he headed straight into the arms of Elliott Justham.
More efforts on goal soon followed and Casey had a shot charged down and the keeper did well to clear, before the impressive Charlie Cooper had a low shot from the edge of the box deflected wide of the left-hand post for a corner.
The breakthrough was coming, as it was one-way traffic, and the lively Malachi Napa, then cut inside his marker and found Tarpey in space just inside the penalty box, but he sliced a rising shot wide of the right post.
Dagenham & Redbridge thought they had weathered the storm, but Woking continued to probe, and deservedly took the lead in the 20th minute through Jack Cook, who rose the highest and expertly glanced a header in from close range after Cooper had whipped in a tantalising free kick, from near to the left corner flag.
Jack Cook rises like a salmon to head home; pic: David Holmes
The goal kickstarted Dagenham & Redbridge into life as they had been anonymous in the first 20 minutes, and the Essex side, then had two opportunities to equalise in quick succession.
First, Sam Deering created some space, but his shot was well saved by Craig Ross and then a minute later, Clifton headed narrowly wide after a great ball into the area.
The away side’s woes continued though in the 29th minute, as Clifton went down clutching his right leg and the substitute, who had only been on the pitch for 25 minutes, had to be replaced up front by Darren McQueen.
Dagenham & Redbridge’s miserable half hour was compounded, as the energetic Cards made it 2-0 in 32nd minute, when Napa cut in from the left and let fly with a powerful right-foot shot from the edge of the box, which Justham let slip through his fingers and into the back of the net.
The Cards themselves were then forced into making a substitution in the 39th minute, as the dangerous Napa had to go off due to an injury and was replaced by Max Kretzschmar.
The two-goal lead at half time was the least that Woking deserved for their first half performance, as they had dictated their opponents and were on the front foot throughout the half.
Half-time: Woking 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
The visitors came out with more intent at the start of the second half, and had some pressure in the early exchanges, but it came to nothing as the Cards’ defence stood firm.
In the 53th minute, the game heated up after Dempsey’s late challenge on McQueen riled Dagenham and players from both sides came together, pushing and shoving each other. Dempsey was booked for the tackle before the melee was split up.
Cooper seemed determined to get on the scoresheet and continued to drive forward from the centre of midfield and nearly made it 3-0 in the 61st minute, when his fierce right foot shot was well saved lowdown, after the ball had fallen to him from a Tarpey right-wing cross.
Dagenham & Redbridge had failed to carve out any clear-cut chances in the game and the Cards’ well-marshalled defence had restricted them to speculative efforts on goal from distance.
Cooper’s one-man mission to make it 3-0 continued, and in the 67th minute, he smashed a powerful effort on goal that was blocked, and then in the 71st minute, he curled in a lovely free kick from the left side of the penalty box after Casey was brought down, that was well tipped over the bar for a corner.
Dowse then introduced Matt Jarvis in place of Tarpey in the 74th minute, as the Cards looked to see the game out and secure the three points.
His experience and ability were there to see, and he proved a calming influence, holding on to the ball a few times on the left flank, teasing his marker a few times, ticking the clock down.
Woking were very comfortable in the last 15 minutes, controlling the game, playing smartly and the visitors continued to create very little in attack and looked devoid of ideas.
Conor Hall then replaced Slavi Spasov, who had worked tirelessly up front, in the 83rd minute, as Woking made their final substitution of the game.
There was one final opportunity for Dagenham & Redbridge to pull a goal back and set up a close finish, but Brissett failed to pull the trigger in the box after drifting into the area, and the solid Nathan Collier, made a superb sliding challenge to snuff out the opportunity.
This proved to be last action of the game and it was a thoroughly deserved three points for the Cards, who were by far the better side, playing with energy, purpose and a collective spirit across the pitch.
The win moves Woking up to 6th place in the National League with nine points after four games and they will look to rise further up the table at the weekend, when they welcome 11th placed FC Halifax Town to Kingfield on Saturday.
It has been an impressive start to the season for the Cards who look sharp, well-drilled and committed, and a number of their new signings are having a big impact, which hopefully will continue through an intense period of games.
13 Craig Ross, 12 Nathan Collier, 6 Saul Shotton, 2 Jack Cook, 3 Josh Casey ©, 4 Charlie Cooper, 18 Ben Dempsey, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 20 Malachi Napa (10 Max Kretzschmar 39’), 7 Dave Tarpey (11 Matt Jarvis 74’), 14 Slavi Spasov (9 Connor Hall 83’)
21 Tommy Block, 30 Sam Cartwright
Cook 20’, Napa 32’
Spasov 45’, Dempsey 53’
Dagenham & Redbridge:
1 Elliott Justham, 3 Elliott Johnson, 5 Luke Croll, 6 Kenneth Clark ©, 7 Sam Deering, 8 Mitch Brundle, 9 Paul McCallum (21 Adrian Clifton 4’)(17 Darren McQueen 29’), 10 Angelo Balanta, 15 Andrew Eleftheriou, 18 Kai Brown (23 Jaden Brissett 68’), 24 Charlie Adams
13 Josh Strizovich, 20 William Wright
McQueen 53’, Brown 58’, Eleftheriou 66’, Balanta 73’,
Behind Closed Doors
Man of the Match:
Charlie Cooper – all-action central midfield performance, dangerous free kicks and he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.