No 'pulling up trees' for the Cards against The Wood

Peter Cocks
12:00am, Tue 27th Oct 2020
Boreham Wood 1 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
27th October 2020

On a brisk Tuesday night, Dowse’s cards made the comparatively short trip to Boreham Wood, to face a side in unpredictable form. Players to look out for were talismanic striker Tshimanga, whose strike last season spearheaded victory over the Cards. Boreham Wood skipper Mark Ricketts was also marked out, having been a fan favourite at the Laithwaite before his departure in 2016.

Having dramatically beaten Aldershot in their backyard on the weekend 1-2, Dowson made only two changes to the starting eleven, with Malachi Napa (injured early-on in the Aldershot fixture) and Charlie Cooper replaced in the starting line-up by Tommy Block and new signing Kyran Lofthouse. Matt Jarvis also appears to have made a smooth recovery from injury in recent weeks, starting his second game out on the left wing in just four days.

The game was a tight affair, free-flowing or end-to-end football non-existent, instead, play was dominated by Boreham Wood free kicks and long balls. Indeed, Woking were fortunate on many occasions not to have received yellows for their frustrations with this theme. In the end, only a scrappy goal born from goalmouth chaos could separate the two sides, with Boreham Wood taking all three points, extending Woking’s winless streak against The Wood in the league to nine meetings.

On to kick off, and Boreham Wood’s tactics were not secret for long, within minutes two long balls had unnerved the Woking back line, with striker Tshimanga’ pace already threatening. In the 5th minute, a clumsy Cook tackle on the edge of the box provided Boreham Wood with the first major chance of the game, with the subsequent free kick clipping the wall and sliding inches wide of the post. As the resulting corner was cleared, Tshimanga threatened again, his effort outside the box slipping past the far post.

Following a rather open period of play, another long ball to Tshimanga left him in on goal, seemingly clear of the Woking back line, before a wonderful last ditch challenge by a recovering Jack Cook prevented Boreham Wood taking the lead within twenty minutes. Woking’s first chance fell on the stroke of the half-hour, a delightful low ball across the edge of the six reaching Jarvis, who attempted to slot it goalward before an excellent sliding block by a Boreham Wood centre-back cleared the danger. It was just minutes later that a driving run by BW playmaker Sorba Thomas was cut short by a fairly poor tackle by Saul Shotton, who was lucky to escape a yellow card.

Having won the free kick, Thomas whipped in an enticing ball onto the penalty spot, the ensuing muddle was poorly dealt with by an otherwise effective Woking back line, before the ball presented itself to The Wood’s Gus Mafuta for a tap-in. Calls for offside by usual suspect Josh Casey blanked by the linesman. Casey, clearly fired up by the goal, soon fancied his left foot from range. One of Lofthouse’s mazy runs resulting in a free kick on the goal line, next to the side of the box. Jarvis rolled the ball across to Casey, whose whipped effort left the keeper embedded by his near post as Casey’s effort struck the bar at the far post. The key, underlying danger of the half also sourced from Jarvis, whose runs in behind down the left wing kept providing opportunity after opportunity in the box, none of which were met by a Woking player.

Half-time: Boreham Wood 1 Woking 0

With no changes made at half time, the game continued with the same patterns as its first half, the first chance falling to Boreham Wood target-man Matt Rhead, an optimistic effort from the edge of the box blazed safely over the bar. Within minutes, however, Tshimanga found himself in behind again from a long ball, this time a last ditch tackle from right back Tyler Reid saving Woking from trailing even further behind.

Again, within quick succession, Boreham Wood were presented another goal-scoring opportunity - a dubiously won free kick hoofed into the box, falling to unmarked goalscorer Gus Mafuta, who rather than invoking a dreadful sense of déjà vu, struck the ball a safe distance over the bar. The game soon heated up a notch, with a flying challenge by Ben Dempsey waved away by the referee, invoking a furious reaction from the home team’s dugout, the one redeeming feature of behind closed doors football being able to hear crisply the fruity language exchanged between the dugouts.

As the match entered its final 20 minutes, Dowson made a double substitution, bringing Ben Dempsey and debutant Kyran Lofthouse off in exchange for Max Kretzschmar and Charlie Cooper. Amusingly, at this point Woking finally won a free kick in a dangerous area, with centre back Jamal Fyfield nearly catching the ball after having mistimed a header, yellow card. After the resulting free kick Woking earned their first chance of the half, with Jarvis’ strike from the edge of the box blocked by the now redeemed Fyfield.

Woking nearly fell two behind when approaching the final 10 minutes, with yet another long ball forward finding Rhead, whose flick-on fed Tshimanga through on goal, after his own scuffle knocked Josh Casey on the ground. With the ball in the back of the net, Boreham Wood’s players and staff started celebrating, only for their jubilation to be curtailed by the linesman’s flag and the referee’s whistle. Said jubilation was replaced by confusion, on whether the goal was scratched off for a foul on Casey, or for an offside, a decision seemingly not clarified by the referee. Either would do for Woking. After several minutes of treatment for Casey, the home side made their first substitution of the night, replacing Tshimanga with former card Keiran Murtagh. For the final 10, the home team’s game management was frustratingly efficient, the ball frequently finding itself in the Woking corner, with any Woking counter suitably scythed before it gathered momentum.

A final chance fell to Woking, as fresh substitution Slavi Spasov (who replaced Tommy Block) broke forward with Josh Davison, before being cut down on the edge of the box by last man Fyfield, who managed to somehow avoid a second yellow, despite the best protestations of Josh Casey. Charlie Cooper elected to take, clipping the wall, which slid the ball just inches over the bar. The resulting corner was cleared, and so ended the game, the Wood achieving their first home win in the league this season, solidifying themselves as a bit of a bogey team for the Cards.

Solid defensively, Cards fans should see some positives in a game lacking in positive football from either side, and take hope in having what appears to be a fully fit Matt Jarvis back in form. Next up for Dowse’s Woking is an away journey to King’s Lynn for Halloween, a chance to move on from the dull terrors of Boreham Wood’s compact football, and stabilise inconsistent form away from home so far this season.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 3 Josh Casey, 6 Saul Shotton, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 11 Matt Jarvis, 16 Kyran Lofthouse (Max Kretzschmar 68’), 18 Ben Dempsey (Charlie Cooper 68’), 19 Tyler Reid, 21 Tommy Block (Slavi Spasov 82’), 25 Josh Davison

Unused subs: 7 Dave Tarpey, 12 Nathan Collier

Goals: None

Bookings: Jack Cook 47’

Opposing team 1 Nathan Ashmore, 5 Tom Champion, 12 Jamal Fyfield, 3 Femi Ilesanmi, 4 Mark Ricketts, 8 Gus Mafuta, 11 Corey Whitely, 14 Sorba Thomas, 19 Kane Smith, 15 Matt Rhead, 9 Kabongo Tshimanga (Keiran Murtagh 80’)

Unused subs: 6 David Stephens, 7 Piero Mingoia, 17 Ryan Huddart, 18 Shaquile Coulthurst

Goals: Gus Mafuta 32’

Bookings: Tshimanga 59’, Fyfield 71’

Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis

Attendance: N/A

Man of the Match: For Woking, Matt Jarvis, constantly threatening down the left hand side, slotting delightful balls into the box which were sadly rarely met.

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