Cards complete comeback to slay Dragons on St George's Day

Nigel Beesley
10:06pm, Sun 24th Apr 2022
Woking 2 Wrexham 1
Vanarama National League
23rd April 2022

Woking made two changes from the 4-1 win at Dover on Easter Monday with Craig Ross returning in goal in place of Mark Smith and Inih Effiong replacing Nicke Kabamba, who dropped to the bench. A large crowd, bolstered by a healthy travelling support, observed a minute’s applause for long-time club servant Andy Turner before the late kick-off in front of the BT Sport cameras got underway.

The Cards produced arguably one of their best performances of the season to defeat second place Wrexham on an excellent surface, coming back from an unlucky first half own goal to equalise from the spot and then seal all three points four minutes from time. The Red Dragons were unbeaten in their previous 15 matches, but the way Woking nullified the visitor’s attack was particularly impressive, with Joe McNerney and Moussa Diarra both outstanding at the back.

The visitors kicked off but were forced into an early change with Liam McAlinden replacing Callum McFadzean on the left-hand side after only six minutes. A minute later Jack Roles had a shot from distance which was easily held by Dibble. Johnson then drove forward with pace and, as he entered the area, he appeared to be clipped by the outstretched boot of a defender; however the man in the middle was uninterested in awarding anything for the perceived transgression and play continued.

A series of free kicks then ensued followed by the first corner of the game to the home side after 15 minutes; this reached Longe-King who put his header wide of the post to the relief of the visitors. The visitors replied with a corner of their own, following a deflection from a free kick, but this too went wide to keep the game goalless. On 27 minutes Davies beat the offside trap but his effort was smothered by Craig Ross to deny them the opening goal.

The first booking was then handed out to McNerney for a push which seemed a tad harsh; the resultant free-kick was played out to Mullin who fed Jones but his fierce shot crashed off the underside or the bar and away to safety. Wrexham seemed aggrieved that things weren’t going their way (as tends to happen for sides at or near the top of the league) and were contesting every decision. As halftime approached Woking were seeing a little more of the ball with Johnson and Effiong both dispossessed when in good positions. A minute before the interval Wrexham took the lead when Liam McAlinden’s cross was inadvertently headed past his own goalkeeper by Tyreke Johnson. This sent the 650+ travelling supporters into raptures knowing that the leaders had earlier lost at Yeovil and a win would narrow the gap between themselves and Stockport.

Three added minutes produced little of note and the teams headed down the tunnel for a well-earned break in proceedings. The visitors would have been happy with their first-half performance, although somewhat fortunate to be a goal to the good. Woking on the other hand knew that they would have to up their game if they were to prevent Wrexham taking the points home on the team bus.

Half-time: Woking 0 Wrexham 1

The Cards emerged from the dressing room with renewed vigour and seemed determined to atone for their first half misfortune. Darren Sarrl had clearly told them to cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ to overcome the Red Dragon Army and repel them back to Wales. Jamar Loza made two runs down the left, the second of which forced a corner which was taken short into the box where it found McNerney, but his effort went wide.

Ten minutes into the second period the visitors had a chance to increase their lead with a free kick on the edge of the box. Davies took this and his curling effort was expertly tipped over the bar by Craig Ross to concede a corner; more importantly it kept the Cards in the hunt to get something from the game. On the hour there was another minute’s applause for Andy Turner with his name shining brightly on the electronic scoreboard. This, along with the introduction of Kabamba for Effiong, further boosted Woking’s determination to level the scores.

The Cards were handed the opportunity to equalise when Davies was penalised for handball in the area and the referee pointed to the spot after a few seconds deliberation. Penalty king Max Kretschmar stepped up and sent Dibble the wrong way finding the bottom left-hand corner for his thirteenth goal of the season whereupon the home crowd behind the goal surged forward in celebration.

Woking then enjoyed a period of good possession as they strived for a second goal. Hayden had his name taken for a late challenge as the game approached the final fifteen minutes. Wrexham counter-attacked with Mullin finally evading the home defence but he blazed high and wide into the Leslie Gosden Stand and the chance was gone. Johnson was then carded for a foul and immediately substituted with Nwabuokei taking his place; Wrexham then made a change with Jarvis coming on for Jones.

With ten minutes to play Woking had a great chance to take the lead when Kabamba found himself free in the area but his shot was saved by Dibble. Wrexham then forced another corner which was cleared by Captain Casey. The defining moment of the evening was the introduction of Jermaine Anderson for Kretzschmar with 85 minutes on the clock. His fresh legs allowed him to make a great run into the box to find Jamar Loza arriving in time to sweep the ball home to give Woking the lead. He removed his shirt which led to an inevitable booking, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Jamar Loza celebrates Woking’s winner
Jamar Loza celebrates Woking’s winner
David Holmes

The visitors were then forced to respond by making a final change with Ponticelli coming on for Cleworth and then pushing forward in search of an equaliser which left them vulnerable to the counterattack. Into the five additional minutes they fashioned a chance which was blocked by the Mighty Moussa and then Roles became the final name taken in the referee’s almost full notebook.
Brilliant play by Loza to set up Rohan Ince but his goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by a defender who seemed to appear from nowhere. It mattered not as the man in the middle blew the final whistle shortly afterwards to the delight of the home crowd who had been royally entertained.

A liberal smattering of yellow cards were handed out by Mr Whitton and, although the toothless Red Dragons evaded most of his attentions, they were left grounded and had to head back to North Wales with their tails between their legs disappointed at not being able to close the gap on the leaders. Next up for The Cards is a visit from King’s Lynn on Bank Holiday Monday followed by the last home game of the season against Eastleigh, both matches kicking off at 3pm.

Woking: 13 Craig Ross, 3 Josh Casey ©, 5 Joe McNerney, 6 Moussa Diarra, 7 Jamar Loza, 9 Inih Effiong (18 Nicke Kabamba 61’), 10 Max Kretzschmar (23 Jermaine Anderson, 85’), 11 Tyreke Johnson (8 Solomon Nwabuokei, 78’), 20 Jack Roles, 22 David Longe-King, 24 Rohan Ince

Unused subs: 4 Tom Champion, 14 George Oakley

Goals: Kretzschmar 61’(p), Loza 86’

Bookings: McNerney 35’, Johnson 78’, Loza 87’, Roles 90+4’

Wrexham 21 Christian Dibble, 2 Reece Hall-Johnson, 3 Callum McFadzean (11 Liam McAlinden 6’), 5 Aaron Hayden, 6 Ben Tozer, 7 Jordan Davies, 8 Luke Young ©, 10 Paul Mullin, 30 James Jones (12 Dan Jarvis 78’), 32 Max Cleworth (19 Jordan Ponticelli 87’), 35 Ollie Palmer

Unused subs: 23 Lee Camp, 15 Tyler French

Goal: Johnson 44’(og)

Bookings: McAlinden 63’, Hayden 73’

Referee: Robert Whitton

Attendance: 2697 (658 away)

Man of the Match: As chosen by the Match Sponsors, Laithwaite, Moussa Diarra was a giant at the back and was always on hand to clear any threat posed by the Wrexham attack

Thank you to our Match Sponsor Laithwaite and our Match Ball Sponsor Peacock Construction

You can check out Laithwaite here

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