Report - Woking 3-2 Oxford City
The Cards edge a close game at Kingfield.
A much-improved performance from Oxford City was not enough as they were edged out 3-2 away at Woking on Saturday afternoon.
It was an action-packed game at Kingfield that saw two penalties, two red-cards, eight yellow cards, not forgetting the five goals, all of which ensured the 1,503 in attendance got their money’s worth from the match.
Mark Jones went for a slightly different approach heading into Saturday’s match, moving away from the 3-5-2 formation he opted for against Gloucester City on Tuesday, instead going for a 4-5-1 formation at Kingfield. This change in tactic only saw one change to the starting lineup. Eddie Jones missed out, midfielder Josh Ashby replacing him in the XI. Ashby lined up in a defensive role, Reece Fleet partnering him in the centre of the park, Zac McEachran, Rob Sinclair and Kabongo Tshimanga all lining up as attacking midfielders to support lone striker Matt Paterson. In defence, Craig King retained his position between the sticks, protected by a back four of Udoka Godwin-Malife, Joe Oastler, Luke Ruddick and Ben Jefford.
City started strongly against a Woking side that had won both their opening games, forcing a first save out of Berti Schotterl in the Cards goal inside 10 minutes. Some neat play in the Woking half saw Sinclair lay the ball off to Ashby 30 yards out, the midfielder first time shot forcing the ‘keeper to get down well to claim.
Just seven minutes later though, City were able to go one better. A ball from defence found its way to Ashby, the midfielder cleverly threading the ball through to Paterson one-on-one with Schotterl, the stopper initially getting a hand on the striker’s shot, however it wasn’t enough from stopping it hitting the net.
City continued to be on the front foot following Paterson’s goal, earning a couple of corners in the 21st minute. While the first was shepherded out for another, the second found the head of Oastler, who was unable to keep his header down and on target.
Ben Jefford was the first City name to go into referee Dean Skipper’s note book. The left-back was adjudged to have gone into a challenge late, preventing a break for the hosts.
Despite controlling large periods of the first-half, City were to be dealt a huge blow right on the stroke of the break. A powerfully struck cross hit the arm of Oastler, referee Skipper pointing to the spot after a moment of deliberation.
Max Kretzchmar stepped up and emphatically levelled up the scores, smashing straight down the middle after King had committed to the left.
This set the second half up to be a fascinating battle, both sides certainly looking to push to try and take maximum points and had both shown signs of being able to cause their opponent’s defences big problems.
The second period started with another City name jotted down into the referee’s notebook. Tshimanga was punished this time as pulled his man down just as Woking were looking to break.
Shortly after and the Hoops earned a free-kick of their own in a very dangerous position. Paterson stepped up and powerfully struck the set-piece at goal, however it was straight at Schotterl.
A couple of minutes later and Woking did get that elusive second goal. Reggie Young and Paul Hodges were able to combine well leaving Jack Hyde with the easiest of tap-ins to give his side the lead.
The lead only lasted three minutes however. City earned a corner and played it short to Godwin-Malife. The defender turned his marker, who stuck a foot out and felled the City player, leaving Dean Skipper with no choice other than to point to the spot. Paterson stepped up, confidently sending Schotterl the wrong way to level the scores once again.
Moments after winning the penalty, Godwin-Malife was the next player to be put into the referee’s notebook. The young defender stopped a quick breakaway as he brought his man down inside the Woking half.
He was involved again just a few minutes later, linking up well with Tshimanga down the right, a cross deflecting to the frontman who was denied by a superb challenge.
Mark Jones then moved to protect Tshimanga, who had earlier been booked, replacing him with Kyran Wiltshire in the 71st minute.
City did find themselves down the 10 men just five minutes later. Ben Jefford was penalised for a collision between himself and a Woking midfielder, the referee showing him a second yellow card and giving him his marching orders.
To rub salt further into the wounds, Woking then struck the decisive blow. Paul Hodges was on hand to get the ball across the line following a goalmouth scramble to put his side back ahead.
Despite a numerical disadvantage, the City boss still looked to attack to try and get another equaliser, Abraham Eze coming on for Rob Sinclair.
The task was made even harder as Luke Ruddick was sent off for two bookable offences in the space of a minute. On 88 minutes, he was penalised on the half way line first of all for a challenge that he seemed to win the ball in, before his second a minute later saw him bring down his man just outside the box.
With their two-man advantage, Woking were able to see off the five added minutes, seeing their perfect start to the season continue, consigning City to a second consecutive defeat, sitting just one place above the relegation zone.
City are next in action on Tuesday evening as they welcome Torquay United to Marsh Lane, 19:45 kick-off.
Oxford City: King, Godwin-Malife, Jefford (S/O 76), Ashby, Ruddick (S/O 89), Oastler, McEachran, Fleet, Paterson, Sinclair (Eze 83), Tshimanga (Wiltshire 71)
Unused: Jones, Fasanmade, Krasniqi