Woking News & Mail

Woking slain by Dragons

Adam Leary
12:00am, Tue 16th Feb 2021
Wrexham 2 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
16th February 2021

Woking returned from North Wales empty handed after goals either side of half time condemned them to defeat. A Luke Young penalty for the hosts after 65 minutes doubled the hosts advantage following Dior Angus’ strike on the stroke of half time, leaving the Cards to rue a lack of cutting edge in the final third.

The Angus goal felt a cruel blow, coming at the end of an encouraging half where the visitors were organised, competitive, and sharp in their passing, taking the game to the hosts with much of the play inside the Wrexham half, highlighted by a number of corners which the Cards were unable to make anything from.

The goal itself was very well worked, Dan Jarvis making the most of a loose pass and feeding the rapid Reece Hall-Johnson down the right-hand side. His fine early cross evaded Ben Gerring and was met emphatically by the on-rushing Angus, who got in front of Jack Cook on the cover to fire past Craig Ross at his left-hand post. Ross had largely been a spectator to that point, such had been the performance of the visitors.

Coming into this behind-closed-doors match at the Racecourse Ground, the hosts had been boosted by the recently confirmed takeover of the club by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney and impressive recent form which has seen them lose just once since the turn of the year, taking them into the final play off place in 7th place at the start of the match, well placed for a promotion push.

Following postponements to their last two fixtures, Alan Dowson made one change from the side that progressed in the FA Trophy at Gander Green Lane 10 days ago, with Matt Jarvis coming into the starting line up in place of Malachi Napa, who scored the winner at Sutton last time out. Josh Casey’s continued absence meant that Craig Ross captained the visitors. Woking, looking for their first win in North Wales since 2016, kept the same back four that shut out Sutton, with Kyran Lofthouse continuing at left back.

Jayden Wareham led the line and demonstrated what a willing runner he is, with Jarvis, Kretzschmar and Dempsey seeking to provide support in attack where possible. Charlie Cooper and Kane Ferdinand provided the midfield base and Jack Cook and Lofthouse sought to get forward from the full back positions. Whilst it was undeniably difficult for Woking to create any notable clear-cut chances from open play in the first period, they posed a threat from set pieces on the occasions the delivery was right, although Dowson will no doubt be frustrated at a maddening inconsistency in this regard.

The best opportunities for the Cards in the first period were Cook meeting a Cooper near post corner with a neat flick that went just over the bar, and a decent Jarvis effort which was well blocked after a neat passing exchange involving Ferdinand and Lofthouse.

The visitors came close themselves late in the half when a Mark Carrington shot was deflected, forcing Ross to swiftly change direction and tip behind for a corner. However, it was Angus, signed after investment by Wrexham's new owners, who scored his first goal since his move from Barrow to give the hosts the lead just before the interval.

Half-time: Wrexham 1 Woking 0

Woking emerged unchanged at half time, as did the hosts, and it has to be assumed that the message from Dowson would have been to stay in in the game, continue to do the basics well and seek to push for an equaliser.

The opening exchanges of the second period were relatively uneventful, although the Cards spurned a glorious chance to level in the 49th minute, a moment, which even at the time felt it could have been a turning point in the match. Jarvis fed a ball from the left to Dempsey, who, on the stretch, couldn’t quite collect. The ball ran through to Kretzschmar, who went down in the box under a challenge from a Wrexham defender, but the ball broke to Dempsey who had continued his supporting run. The on-loan Charlton midfielder was unable to slot past the on-rushing keeper Christian Dibble, who saved well with his legs.

On 65 minutes Woking were punished for this profligacy in a severe way. The hosts opened the Cards up with some good forward movement and passing, Angus linking up with his strike partner Kwame Thomas, who found himself in a not dissimilar position to Dempsey shortly before. Thomas opted to take the ball around Craig Ross, who collided with the forward and the referee Paul Marsden pointed to the spot, earning the Woking keeper a yellow card. Luke Young made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Ross the wrong way to convert and double the lead.

Dowson responded with a triple substitution – Jonte Smith, Malachi Napa and Jamar Loza coming on for Wareham, Jarvis and Dempsey. The Cards notably tried to get higher up the pitch and get the three subs and Kretzschmar working closer together, acknowledging the need to chase the game.

The change in personnel and mindset did create some opportunities; Loza had a shot well blocked after good link up play with Napa, who himself had an effort deflected into the hands of Dibble. Cooper played a lovely through ball between the right back and centre back to Kretzschmar, whose left foot shot was well saved by the home keeper.

Perhaps the evidence that confirmed that it wasn’t to be for the Cards came six minutes from time when a Cooper corner (probably his most threatening of the match) was met well by the head of Moussa Diarra. The goal was disallowed by the referee who adjudged that Diarra had fouled Dibble in jumping for the ball. The keeper received treatment on the pitch for a couple of minutes after the incident.

The Cards kept plugging away and to their credit didn’t give up, the substitutions breathed some life into the side as an attacking unit, and Cooper forced Dibble into a late save from distance, but the hosts were ultimately able to see the game out – the three points moving Dean Keates’ side up to 6th in the table.

For Woking, a long journey back to Surrey affords plenty of time to ponder how to arrest an alarming run of recent form in the league, which has seen them slide down the table to 18th. All connected with the club will be hoping that a revival can start on Saturday, when the Cards travel to Barnet.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross ©, 2 Jack Cook, 4 Charlie Cooper, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Moussa Diarra, 8 Kane Ferdinand, 10 Max Kretzschmar, 11 Matt Jarvis (26 Jamar Loza 67’), 16 Kyran Lofthouse, 18 Ben Dempsey (20 Malachi Napa 67’), 23 Jayden Wareham (9 Jonte Smith 67’)

Unused subs: 12 Nathan Collier, 21 Tommy Block

Goals: n/a

Bookings: Ross, Diarra, Kretzschmar

Wrexham 21 Christian Dibble, 2 Reece Hall-Johnson, 3 Jamie Reckord, 8 Luke Young, 12 Dan Jarvis (7 Elliott Durrell 70’), 13 Mark Carrington, 20 Dior Angus, 22 Fiacre Kelleher, 26 Tyler French, 29 Jordan Davies, 39 Kwame Thomas

Unused subs: 9 Jordan Ponticelli, 10 Devonte Redmond, 14 Paul Rutherford, 15 James Horsfield

Goals: Angus 45’, Young (pen) 65’

Bookings: n/a

Referee: Paul Marsden

Attendance: n/a

Man of the Match: Max Kretzschmar – Of the Woking players that played the full 90 minutes, Kretzschmar was probably the player who stood out with his willing running and link up play with other forward players consistent throughout this match.

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