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Brian Caffarey - 25th October 2008



25 OCTOBER 2008

The Cards have to travel down to Northfleet on Tuesday evening to resume battle for a place in the First Round Proper of the FA Cup. But they will be kicking themselves after throwing away a two goal lead, earned in the first nine minutes from strikes by Wilfried Domoraud and Liam Marum. Woking held firm until midway through the second half when two penalties in quick succession ? the first looking very debatable ? gained the Fleet the draw which, admittedly, they had more than deserved on the balance of play.

On a dull, blustery afternoon the Cards lined up with new loan signing, Carl Pentney, in goal and a familiar back four of Konan, Lorraine, Hutchinson and Miles. Bradley Quamina returned to fill the defensive midfield role, with Ledgister and El Kholti out on the flanks and Vernazza in the middle, whilst Marum operated up front with Domoraud.

Woking got off to a dream start as Domoraud put them in front in the 8th minute with a superbly-taken goal. Picking up a short through ball from Ledgister, he held off a defender on the right of the box before turning inside and then showed the presence of mind to delay his shot until he?d worked an angle past the keeper.

Woking fans could hardly believe their eyes when, a minute later, the lead was doubled. Liam Marum seized on a ball on the right, rode a tackle and then went round the keeper before finishing coolly.

The Fleet nearly pulled a goal back two minutes later but Pentney got down quickly to punch a free-kick clear. However, the Fleet soon began to dominate the midfield, adopting the familiar tactic of throwing in a profusion of high balls into the box. For the most part Lorraine, Hutchinson and Miles dealt with these fairly comfortably but Ebbsfleet usually seemed able to pick up the pieces and re-apply pressure.

Lorraine had to be alert to block a quickly-taken free-kick before he and Hutchinson threw their bodies in the way of another effort. The Fleet?s Luke Moore found himself in plenty of space on the Woking left but shot wide. Neil Barrett?s curling effort was then flipped over by Pentney for a corner.

Woking?s attacks had now become very sporadic, with neither Ledgister nor El Kholti making any real impact on the flanks and Marum becoming frustrated by a whistle-happy referee who blew for every minor infringement.

Ebbsfleet piled on the pressure as half-time approached and were virtually camped outside the Woking box, with Michael Gash just failing to reach a cross at the far post. In injury time Woking rallied as Liam Marum went down in the area but, predictably, although a penalty would have been very harsh, the referee felt it necessary to book him for ?diving?.

Half-time: Woking 2 Ebbsfleet United 0

The second half began scrappily, with the Woking defence initially appearing to come under less pressure than in the latter stages of the first half. Kezie Ibe fired well over before the Cards put together a couple of promising moves, which, however, fizzled out.

In the 65th minute Vernazza missed a wonderful chance to seal the tie for the Cards. El Kholti started a fine move down the Woking left, which ended with an excellent cross into the area. Vernazza had stolen into a good position, only a couple of yards out, but he didn?t connect properly with his header, with the ball bouncing off the turf and out for a goal-kick.

The Cards were immediately given cause to rue this miss as the referee awarded a penalty against Lorraine for what looked like the sort of innocuous blocking challenge that you see from defenders dozens of times in a game. Luke Moore sent Pentney the wrong way as the Fleet brought the tie back to 2-1.

Four minutes later the Fleet earned another penalty ? rightly, it seemed to me ? as Pentney brought down a Fleet striker who got to the ball just ahead of him. [Later: having now seen the video highlights, the decision looks much more dubious.)  Fortunately for Pentney, the referee awarded only a yellow card. Moore slotted home once more.

At this stage the odds were on the Fleet completing their revival with a third goal but, perhaps content to have pulled the tie out of the fire, they did not press home the psychological advantage they had gained. If anything, the Cards shaded the closing stages. Liam Marum, shortly before being substituted, broke clear down the right but blasted wide from a difficult angle. For the Fleet, Stone curled wide. The Cards seemed to be given a boost by the substitution of Spence for Marum, with the on-loan Reading player taking up Ledgister?s berth on the right, while the latter took on Marum?s mantle. Spence made several incisive runs but his crossing was inconsistent. Vernazza slipped a terrific through ball to Ledgister, with the Fleet keeper twice blocking his goal attempts. And then, in the five minutes added on, Domoraud executed a brilliant bicycle kick in a crowded area, only to see his goalbound shot unwittingly blocked by a Fleet defender.

So, the Cards missed a great opportunity to book their place in the First Round of the FA Cup, and have an even bigger mountain to climb at Stonebridge Road, scene of a recent 2-0 defeat in the league. Once again, the Woking defence looked very solid but too many players ahead of them, with the exception of the hard-working Quamina and the threatening Domoraud, looked ineffectual.

Woking : Carl Pentney, Patrice Konan, Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson, Colin Miles, Bradley Quamina, Joel Ledgister, Paolo Vernazza, Abdou El Kholti (Giuseppe Sole, 83), Liam Marum (Daniel Spence, 77), Wilfried Domoraud

Subs not used: Ross Worner, Danny Bunce, Matt Pattison, Delano Sam-Yorke, Charlie Moone

Booked: Abdou El Kholti, Liam Marum, Carl Pentney

Attendance: 1462

Sponsor?s MOTM: Paul Lorraine (pictured)