Report - Woking 3 - 2 Wealdstone
Wealdstone were a stone’s throw away from the National League South play-off final but were the victims of a dramatic Woking comeback on Sunday afternoon at Kingfield.
First half goals from Wealdstone defenders Freddie Grant and Connor Stevens gave Stones fans belief before second half goals from Moussa Diarra, Max Kretzschmar and Jake Hyde knocked Wealdstone out of the promotion chase.
The semi-final began with a frantic start and the Stones broke the deadlock inside three minutes.
Grant was picked at the back-post by Danny Green’s corner from the right and the full-back fiercely headed the ball past Woking ‘keeper Craig Ross, sending over 600 away supporters into excitement.
Woking needed a positive response after the Stones’ fast start, Kretzschmar attempted to provide the equaliser but his first-time shot from distance was saved by stand-in Bracknell goalkeeper Mark Scott after 16 minutes.
Wealdstone were in dreamland four minutes later when another corner from Green, this time from the left, was volleyed home by Stevens inside the penalty area to double the Stones’ lead.
The Cards got their first decent opportunity of the game when Coventry loanee Reise Allassani forced a great save from Scott just after the half-hour mark.
It began to go silent inside the Laithwaite Stadium as the game lacked chances for either side while Woking maintained the majority of possession towards the end of the first half.
The first half came to a close with Bobby Wilkinson’s men holding a two-goal cushion on the hosts and looking comfortable and at ease with the occasion.
It was a mountain to climb for Woking to turnaround a two-goal deficit, Kretzschmar provided an opportunity for the Cards when the winger’s corner from the right found Jack Cook who disappointedly headed over the bar.
Everything positive for Woking in the second half was courtesy of Kretzschmar, just after the hour-mark his corner from the left found Ben Gerring who slammed his header onto the bar.
Gerring’s header was the Cards’ biggest chance of the game and as time ran out, Kingfield fell flat as the home supporters believed their chance of a comeback had been squandered.
The Cards lacked creativity for 15 minutes after Gerring’s near-miss and looked down-and-out until the game sprung into life when Kretzschmar’s corner from the left found Diarra and headed past Scott to half Wealdstone’s lead.
This situation was not ideal for the Stones who had played a hard-fought 90 minutes at Bath only four days earlier while Woking had earned a week off when they finished in second place.
Tired legs began to show while Alan Dowson’s Cards gained all the momentum and confidence, Woking equalised in the 86th minute when a quick free-kick found itself to Kretzschmar who made no mistake inside the penalty area to convert a fine finish.
The Wealdstone warriors were on the back-foot as the scores were level heading towards stoppage time, with the potential of extra-time looming.
Stones full-back Rhys Tyler had an audacious volley from distance a minute before additional time which flew on-target but did not trouble Ross who caught the ball comfortably.
As Wealdstone fought to salvage their energy, the heartbreak of a third Woking goal struck the Stones two minutes into injury time when Hyde was headed through on-goal and lofted the ball agonisingly over Scott which caused Kingfield to erupt in joy.
Bobby Wilkinson’s Stones gave everything and left nothing on the pitch but unfortunately, Woking’s class showed late-on in the tie and had undone a fantastic Wealdstone performance in the space of 15 minutes.
Everyone at the Wealdstone FC media team would like to thank everyone who has read and followed our work during 2018/19 and we will see you in the new season!
Wealdstone: Scott, Tyler, Grant, Stevens, Okimo, Poku, Monakana, Smith (Mensah, 34), Pratt (Brown, 85), Green, Sheppard. Subs not used: Wilson, Wheeler, Clark.
Report by Dec O'Reilly
Dan Finill's photos HERE
Post-Match Interview with Bobby Wilkinson is available HERE