Wirtten By Declan McCarthy
Woking suffered a shock exit out of the Surrey Senior cup thanks to two mistakes from Aaron Howe who returned in between the post’s for the first time since September and it was also a goal from danger man Mark Bitmead who sealed the win for the Combined Counties team as they defeated Woking, after Ashford Town displayed a spirited performance under manager Ben Murray, whom before Saturdays (FA Vase) exit were on an impressive unbeaten run of 11 games heading into the game on a cold, wet, Tuesday evening at Kingfield.
Gary Hill made 6 changes to the team, leaving out Ross Worner, James Clarke, Josh Payne, Chris Arthur, Theo Lewis and Joe McNerney and so came in Dean Morgan, John Goddard, Jack Marriott, John Nutter, Mike Cestor and Howe who made his 1st start back since his injury against Aldershot. Striker, Scott Rendell starting at centre back was the most noticeable change in the team, as Gary Hill rightly rested centre backs Clarke and McNerney, who will most probably start on Sunday.
Ashford kicked off the first half and early signs showed that Woking were by far a stronger more physical team compared to the young, athletic Ashford Town side, who had an average squad age of 19!
Woking had a lot more possession in the game but it was Ashford who struck first on the 20 minute mark when a ball was lofted over the Woking defence and was struck beautifully By Mark Bitmead with his left foot, fizzing straight past Howe and there was nothing he could have done to keep that one out.
Gary Hill said to Radio Woking after the game “It was a disappointing result and a disappointing performance, all credit to Ashford, they kept alive and punished us on the mistakes we made.
With Woking putting the pressure on Ashford, the cards found themselves open on the counter attack and Ashford played this very well with Tom Brunton pulling the strings in the middle of the park, showing a great range of passing.
Under pressure from Ashford a pass back from Rendell to goalkeeper Howe went wrong as Howe miss kicked the ball straight into the path of Max Webb, who tapped-in from two yards.
“You can look at two ends of the field of play, we had enough chances, in the same token we were sloppy”, said Hill after the game. There was worse news around the corner as Dean Morgan went of injured, in what looked to be a groin injury as Theo Lewis entered the pitch.
At this stage of the game Ashford town defended bravely and it kept them 2-0 up going into the half time break.
Woking kicked off the second half as they started the first, putting the CCL team under huge pressure and creating chances as Ashford goalkeeper Tyler Tobin matched absolutely everything and put in a very impressive performance.
At this stage of the game it was very much all Woking but with Ashford, whom defended very well keeping 10 men behind the ball, Woking found it difficult to break them down and continued to leave themselves very vulnerable in defence just like in the first half.
Ashford Town did have their own chances, they broke though once again from a brilliant weighted pass from Brunton over the defence, into the path of Bitmead and was met by Howe as he saved the shot well.
There was a penalty to Woking after some brilliance from Giuseppe Sole who broke in between the Ashford defence and was taking down by Tobin, the ref rightly blew his whistle and pointed to the spot and with Rendell currently the top goal scorer in the Vanarama conference stepped up and had his penalty saved by Tobin.
From then on you knew it really wasn’t going to be Woking’s night, as to further the pain, substitute Kieron Wright charged down Howe’s poor clearance before keeping composed, delivering a cross for Webb who converted well sealing the cards fate. Ben Murray spoke to Radio Woking after the game, “Defensively we worked hard all evening and we rode our luck at times and the penalty was a great save, absolutely brilliant from my boys tonight and a great comeback from the defeat to last Saturday”.
Even after a disappointing defeat Woking head into Sundays game Vs Wrexham “excited” as Hill said “We will be okay by then, I will have a think and select a team that will hopefully go on, work hard and do us proud.
Full-Time: Woking 0-3 Ashford Town
WOKING: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Keiran Murtagh, Giuseppe Sole, Kevin Betsy, John Nutter, Jack Marriott, John Goddard, Dean Morgan (Theo Lewis 40), Scott Rendell
Unused subs: Jake Cole, Josh Payne, Chris Arthur
MOTM: Tyler Tobin
(All Photo’s from David Holmes)