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Wonderkid Wareham rescues vital point for the Cards

Owen Parsley - 26th January 2021

Wonderkid Wareham rescues vital point for the Cards Bromley 2 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
26th January 2021

Coming into the game on Tuesday night, Woking were in desperate need of goals, having not scored in the league since December 12th, and Jonté Smith was brought into the side for his first start in a Woking shirt in an attempt to provide just that. The one other change for the Cards was fan favourite Moussa Diarra making his debut start back in a Woking shirt, replacing the usually ever-present club captain Josh Casey, who missed his first game for over a year with a shoulder injury sustained in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Maidenhead. In Casey’s absence, versatile youngster Lofthouse stepped into the left-back role, with Cook pushed out to right-back.

On a cold, drizzly night in South-East London, this was one that took a while to get going, with Bromley taking the lead with possibly the only shot on target in the opening 45 minutes. Then whilst a second goal from the Ravens halfway through the second half seemed to secure all three points, a sharp double from Cards substitute Jayden Wareham snatched a point which, in truth, was no less than Woking deserved.

The opening to the game was pinball that would not have looked out of place in an arcade, but before long both teams settled into the conditions and traded spells of possession although with little to show for it. The first chance of the game fell to Max Kretzschmar in the 9th minute, after new signing Jonté Smith did well down the right flank to fizz a cut back cross to the edge of the box, but his shot was high and wide.

In the 14th minute, Bromley left-back Bush summoned his inner Rory Delap with a pair of long throws from the left hand side, the first of which was dealt with well by the Woking defence. The second however was allowed to bounce in the box, and was only scrambled away after a Bromley miscue eight yards out.

Minutes later, a fantastic driving run from Wakefield had Diarra and Gerring back-pedalling, but his final pass let him down as it skidded between the two centre backs and out for a goal kick. Despite not creating much themselves, Woking worked hard during the first half, undoubtedly winning the midfield battle.

Unfortunately in the 30th minute, after a slightly over-exuberant challenge from Kretzschmar just inside the Woking half, the resulting free kick floated in by Raymond caught the Woking defensive line out, leaving Roberts free to guide a header back across goal into the bottom right-hand corner, giving Craig Ross with no chance. Woking would, I’m sure, be disappointed to concede a goal from a set piece, given their own aerial prowess at the other end. 1-0.

As would be expected, the home team gained confidence having taken the lead, but Woking stood firm. In the 40th minute, Gerring picked up the game’s first yellow card, having seemingly been given an ultimatum by referee Elliott Swallow just minutes before. On the stroke of half-time, Woking had their best chance of the game so far, as Diarra’s header from Cooper’s out-swinging corner seemed bound for the top corner after bouncing up off the (astro) turf, but the Bromley keeper did just about enough to palm the ball over the crossbar.

One goal remained the difference at the break, but the much yearned for league goal would certainly be needed in the second half if the Cards were to take anything from this game.

Half-time: Bromley 1 Woking 0

Looking for a more progressive performance in the second half, Dowse brought on 17 year old academy talent Jayden Wareham, shifting from a 4-3-3 formation to a more traditional “little-and-large” combination spearheading a 4-4-2, as the Cards looked to pierce through the Bromley back line.

The second half began in similar fashion to the first, with both sides enjoying spells of dominance, but lacking the decisive final touch. As he had done on a number of occasions, Bermudan international Smith gained possession just outside the left-hand corner of the Ravens’ box and shaped up to shoot, but his effort was fired high into the modern Glyn Beverly Stand. Moments later, at the other end some strong hold up play from Williamson opened up space for the onrushing Wakefield, who prompted a smart save from Ross to prevent Bromley from doubling their lead.

The game began to open up a lot more, and some good combination play between Lofthouse and Wareham on the Woking left resulted in a dangerous cross from the latter, but Smith couldn’t turn in goalwards. Bromley made sure to continue to fire warnings at the Cards, and a heavy touch by Cook allowed a Bromley forward a chance from close range, which was safely diverted wide at the near post by Craig Ross.

In the 62nd minute, Wakefield once again found himself in between the lines, and his hopeful effort from 25 yards caught Ross out, and squirmed into the bottom left corner via the woodwork. It was struck very well, but the Woking goalkeeper holds high standards for himself and will certainly be disappointed he couldn’t get a stronger hand to it. 2-0.

With nothing to lose, Dowse made a double change in the 66th minute, bringing on Slavi Spasov and Malachi Napa to replace Smith and Kretzschmar. By this point, Bromley looked comfortable, and came very close to killing the game off for good in the 70th minute when a fabulous headed clearance off the line from Ben Gerring denied Roberts his second of the night.

However, in the 72nd minute, following a long throw into the box, the ball was floated back in, knocked down by Diarra, and poked home by Wareham, for his first senior goal for the club! Wareham showed fantastic awareness to react quickest as the ball dropped in the box – a sign of a true, instinctive striker. Woking were back in it. 2-1.

The goal massively uplifted Woking’s confidence, with a succession of chances following. The first of which was a free header from substitute Spasov, who could only direct his header straight at the keeper. Minutes later, a cross from the left-hand side was recycled back into the mix, and Napa’s close range header was only denied by a superb headed clearance off the line.

Despite this, Woking had to be careful, as Ravens’ forward Bridge twice got the better of the Cards’ defence, with a shot smothered safely by Ross, and then with 85 minutes on the clock, a drilled cross into goal scorer Wakefield was let down by a sliced effort wide of goal.

In the 86th minute, Goddard – who had been terrorising the Ravens’ right-back for the best part of half an hour – slipped a reverse pass into Spasov, whose shot was parried by the keeper, only to fall into the path of Wareham who smashed home his second of the night, a deserved equaliser for the Cards! A small scuffle in the goal suggested that Bromley felt hard done by to have conceded an equaliser so late on, but all credit must go to the Cards, Wareham and Dowse, for taking the decision to bring the teenager on. Woking were on level terms, 2-2.

The closing stages of the game were extremely frantic; neither side knew whether to settle for the point, or chase a late winner. There were no clear-cut openings, however special praise must go to both Gerring and Diarra, who on separate occasions late into the five additional minutes held their nerve to make heroic challenges one-on-one with the Bromley attackers.

The team will no doubt be delighted with the character and fight that they showed to claw their way back into a game that seemed to have eluded them, and it was fantastic to see Jayden Wareham score his first senior goals, and become Woking’s youngest ever National League goal scorer. Next up on Saturday, Woking face a visit from Stockport, who are sitting pretty in the playoff spots, five points above the Cards and unbeaten in as many games.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 4 Charlie Cooper, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Moussa Diarra, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 9 Jonté Smith (Slavi Spasov 66’), 10 Max Kretzschmar (Malachi Napa 66’), 16 Kyran Lofthouse, 18 Ben Dempsey (Jayden Wareham 45’), 22 John Goddard

Unused subs: 12 Nathan Collier, 21 Tommy Block

Goals: Wareham 72’, 86’

Bookings: Gerring 40’, Ferdinand 60’

Bromley 1 Mark Cousins, 5 Chris Bush, 8 Frankie Raymond, 9 Michael Cheek, 14 Kory Roberts, 15 Taylor Maloney, 17 Byron Webster, 18 Ben Williamson, 20 Jude Arthurs, 23 Charlie Wakefield (Holland, 90+4’), 24 Jack Bridge (Duffus, 87’)

Unused subs: 10 James Alabi, 12 Tom Purrington, 22 Liam Vincent

Goals: Roberts 30’, Wakefield 62’

Bookings: Wakefield 53’, Maloney 64’, Bush 81’

Referee: Elliott Swallow

Attendance: N/A

Man of the Match: Jayden Wareham – He came off the bench at half time, and provided two excellent poacher’s finishes to salvage a well-deserved point for the Cards.
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