Woking Under 18s match report
Among the million (slight exaggeration) catchphrases often uttered by renowned American professional wrestler Ric Flair is: "To be the man, you have to beat the man." In the world of the Isthmian Youth League, "the man" takes the form of Woking Football Club. If any team manages to finish above Woking in the league, there's a very good chance that that team wins the league. More often than not, that doesn't happen.
The game at South Park FC between top of the table Kingstonian and unbeaten Woking felt like a big game, and indeed lived up to that notion. With two games against Woking and indeed one each against other contenders South Park and Metropolitan Police, Kingstonian will quickly find out how good they actually are.
The first major chance came Kingstonian's way in the 19th minute when Pacey Bean intercepted an errant pass in defence and threaded the ball through to Deniz Ozer, who forced the Woking goalkeeper into a good stop. That prodded the Cards into decisive action as they took the lead four minutes later, when a pinpoint long diagonal ball from left wing to far post opened up the Kingstonian defence, allowing Alfie Connolly in to head into an empty net.
For most of the rest of the first half, it was Woking that had much more in the way of possession, but Kingstonian began to create a small number of clear chances, K's had a huge chance in the 38th minute when a cross from the right by Iker Noguera Leon somehow made its way to the far post where Lewis Gould headed back across goal, again somehow the ball evaded everyone in the six yard box and hit the post before being cleared.
However, K's were level in the 41st minute. Another cross from the right by Noguera Leon found Deniz Ozer on the edge of the penalty area, who had the time to take aim at the goal and curled a delightful shot around the despairing dive of the Woking keeper and into the top corner.
It got better for the home side in the 45th minute as the K's took the lead - again it was Noguera Leon who was the engineer of the move, dashing down the right with a speedy run and when he reached the end line he cut the ball back, it found Deniz Ozer once again and once again he produced a clinical strike.
Just as K's thought that they would go into half time with a hard-earned lead, Woking came straight back in the second minute of added time when a cross from the right looped agonisingly over Joshua Lohmeier and was tapped home by Ben Mitchell. That was the last touch of the first half, a tight game predictably level at the break but in a rather unorthodox manner.
K's flew out of the blocks in the second half and looked more likely to score in the first fifteen minutes, but they found the Woking defence to be resolute, organised and unbreakable. The game did turn into a tetchy, bad tempered affair, and there were moments when players from both teams weren't particularly bothered as to whether their kicks were at the ball or at each other, and Sam Widdowson could be profusely thanked for his invention in 1874 of shin pads as they were absolutely needed. When red mist mode kicked in for both teams, it was Woking that was still able to play the better football in the small periods in between visits to the pitch from both teams' physios.
However, the game turned in a four minute spell that saw K's wonder how they didn't score and Woking not wonder how they did score. In the 73rd minute, Iker Noguera Leon's curling shot was superbly saved by Woking's goalkeeper, but from the re-start Alex Andreou's shot from the edge of the area smacked the post, rebounded perfectly to Noguera Leon, who aimed his rebound header into the top centre of the goal at very close range, only for the Cards' keeper Marco Underwood to make an astonishingly good leaping save to tip the ball over the bar. Four minutes later after another shinpad splitting session, Woking took the lead when they won a free kick about 25 yards out which was curled perfectly into the near corner of the net by Ameron Subramainiam. Woking took a lead that they would not relinquish.
So yes, Kingstonian have a good Under 18s team, of that there is no doubt, and there is also no doubt that they are improving. However, Woking looked like they had the edge, be it with their physicality, with their experience, with their ability to get stuck in when the going didn't always go their way. K's are close and are capable of getting closer, but, for now at least, Woking are still "the man".
Next up for the K's is a Wednesday night match at Chertsey Town FC against Ashford Town (Middlesex) in the Combined Counties League West Division, kick-off at Alwyns Lane will be 7.45pm.