Woking v Slough
By Tom McLean
Woking put to the Slough-ter.
After promising results over the last two weeks, Woking had worked themselves into a position whereby they could jump above Slough and avoid bottom spot in their first season back in South Prem 2. The boys in blue were 4-3 winners in the last game of 2018 against the Middlesex club and with momentum rolling, they were expectant of more points.
The Goldsworth Park outfit started much stronger than their M4 counterparts. High pressing, quick passing and some strong defensive work meant much of the first 15 minutes were spent in the Slough half, with Jamie Hutchin having the best chance from a short corner routine that drifted just wide.
Slough began to gain a foothold in the game, however, with their free-flowing forward play and individual skill creating openings. The Boys in Blue made sure that ‘keeper Max Deeley remained reasonably quiet in the first 20 minutes though, with excellent double-teaming from the energetic midfield and a couple of brave last gasp blocks from stalwarts Tom Leggett and Andrew Barton.
Woking finally got the breakthrough that their early dominance had deserved when, from a short-corner, coach Mani Kochar cleverly played an underarm ball to youngster Ben Searle in space who did well to finish on his reverse for his first league goal for the 1st XI.
Slough looked to hit back instantly with only a few minutes to go in the first half, and with the last play of before the break, a drag flick squeezed under the unfortunate Deeley to level the scores.
The second half carried on in much the same vein as the first, with Slough having the lion’s share of possession but Woking carving out a number of clear-cut chances to regain the lead through their impressive counter-attacking.
Woking restored their lead when another break saw the ball become loose just outside the Slough D. Andrew Barton, who had gambled from centre back to join in the attack, picked up the ball and slotted an inch perfect ball to James Furness who coolly deflected home.
Slough pressed on for an equaliser, but Deeley and his defence were unmoved. Sweeper Robbie Faulkner was more than equal to the trickery of the Slough forwards, whilst Barton used his famed physicality to disrupt any rhythm that Slough were trying to build.
Eventually, though, a breakthrough came when a short corner was well dispatched low to Deeley’s left.
A third goal soon followed when a penalty stroke was controversially awarded despite Deeley and Barton’s pleas to the umpires that the initial drag flick from the short corner was dangerous in the lead up.
The stroke was scored, and the Surrey boys faced an uphill task to save their pride.
Chances came and went. Searle missed at the back post and Furness forced the Slough keeper into an incredible save late on, but the hosts couldn’t find the equaliser.
After the game, Man of the Match Andrew Barton said, “it’s another disappointing defeat where we’ve shown for long periods what we’re capable of as a group. To finish bottom of the league is gutting, but we’ll work hard and use next week’s game as a base for the future where I’ve no doubt we’ll be back to winning ways.”