Woking U18s match report
Kingstonian are one game away from claiming their third Isthmian Youth League Central Division title and their first since 2012 after a stunning 2-1 victory over Woking at Knaphill's Redding Way ground.
Whilst not an actual title decider, this game would make the winning team white hot favourites to win the division whilst a draw would have massively favoured the Cards as they would be odds on to win the league on goal difference having one more game to play than the K's.
Woking, fresh off winning the Isthmian Youth League Cup on Monday after beating Metropolitan Police on penalties, started the game quicker than their visitors and produced a couple of shots that threatened Joshua Lohmeier's goal, but soon K's settled and the game became a bit of an arm-wrestle.
That's not to say that chances weren't being created, Kingstonian were having much success down the left with Freddie Bailey's dead ball passing prowess, creating opportunities for Alex Andreou and Rocco Ilhan that were just wide of the goal, whilst the Cards' Alfie Burton was a consistent danger down the other end. The closest to a K's goal came in the 27th minute when another Freddie Bailey free kick was headed goalwards by Andreou, the ball evaded the home keeper Owen Crawford but was cleared off the line by a defender.
The longer than the game went on, it seemed that Kingstonian became far more comfortable in possession and began to knock on the door more often. There was also a simmering undercurrent that neither team was exactly on the other's Christmas card list, tackles began to fly in, words were being had, winding opponents up was being had, both teams were chipping away at each other and it wouldn't take much for the smallest thing to produce a flashpoint. A referee that consistently failed to stamp down on both teams' behaviour exacerbated the situation.
As the second half continued, the drama began to intensify. The best early chance came in the 53rd minute when a mis-hit clearance allowed Iker Noguera Leon and Rocco Ilhan to combine quickly on the edge of the area with Iker's shot being well saved by Owen Crawford.
K's were now well on the front foot, but Woking were defending very well and it would take something special for the boys in bottle green to break the deadlock. That something special came in the 70th minute, a throw in down the left wing found Rocco Ilhan, he quickly played a short ball to Iker Noguera Leon. Accompanied by a Woking defender who had seen Iker's run from the beginning, the K's captain flew under severe pressure into the penalty area and crashed a wonderful shot past Crawford and into the net.
Woking now badly needed a goal to not only protect their unbeaten league record but to swing the title advantage back to their favour, and in the 76th minute had a fine chance on the counter attack, K's fell asleep temporarily at the back, a quick turn and shot went only just wide. This would be a very long last fifteen to twenty minutes...
The game began to open up now and K's created another chance in the 77th minute when Iker went on a stupidly long run down the left wing, was allowed to get as far as the penalty area and into shooting position but the excellent Woking keeper made another fine stop and kept his side in title contention. Woking went straight down the other end with Burton forcing Lohmeier into a fine save, it was becoming abundantly clear that whoever kept their discipline the better would get the result they needed, doing that was getting ever more difficult to do as desperation took hold.
Three minutes of normal time remaining, and Kingstonian doubled the lead. They won a free kick for a handball in a dangerous position just outside the area, and Freddie Bailey drove his cross to the edge of the six yard box, where Rocco Ilhan reacted quickest and guided the ball home before the Woking defence could react.
K's just had to keep their shape now, but the game descended into chaos. Firstly, K's completely lost their discipline at the back for the first time all game in the 90th minute when Woking won a free kick down the right which was swung in and headed home unmarked by Alfie Burton. The Cards were just one goal away again and were trying everything to get their equaliser in what the referee said was going to be six minutes of added time, whilst the K's were trying everything to disrupt anything and everything, tempers naturally frayed even more and there was at least two mass pushing events that raised the volume to eleven.
Freddie Bailey hit a free kick just over the bar in the fifth minute of added time, and then tension continued until the eighth minute and finally the final whistle went. That was the initial cue for wild celebrations for the Kingstonian team, followed almost immediately by someone lighting a massive piece of blue touch paper and both teams renewed hostilities with what can only be described as a mass brawl.
Two K's players, Beau Walters and Benjamin Boateng were sent off after the final whistle, one Woking player got the same treatment. I don't know who started it, I don't particularly care, but this shouldn't have happened. Ok, there was plenty riding on this game, but sometimes brain cells need to be switched on, and that goes for all three teams on display.
Going back to the actual football, this was a fine performance from the K's, apart from a big wobble when they lost concentration around the time of Woking's goal. As a result of this win, K's will now be those white hot favourites for the Central Division title, but the job is not even close to being done.
Kingstonian will host Chipstead at South Park FC on Monday 24th April, kick-off at 7.45pm. A win or a draw for the K's will clinch the championship, a defeat will most likely lose it back to the Cards. This has been some season, and it's not nearly done yet...