Fleet slide to a single-goal defeat at Woking despite Raphael Nade’s disallowed goal…
WOKING 1-0 EBBSFLEET UNITED
The Fleet succumbed at the Kingfield Stadium despite dominating proceedings against a Woking side who won the game with one of a scarce number of opportunities. Making one change from Saturday’s victory over Stafford, Raphael Nade returned up front in place of the suspended Chukki Eribenne and the Fleet set about their opponents almost immediately, Nade playing in George Purcell who got behind the Woking defence but sent his shot across goal.
Purcell looked lively in the opening encounters, forcing a succession of corners against a Woking side depleted in defence by the loss of skipper Tom Hutchison and ex-AFC Wimbledon man Paul Lorraine. But the best the Fleet could muster in the opening quarter of an hour was a Michael Bostwick drive from 25 yards that failed to trouble goalkeeper Nick Gindre. On 19 minutes, Fleet had their best chance when Nade and Bostwick combined well on the edge of the area and Stacy Long ran on to a pass but drove it over the bar from 10 yards.
Seconds later and Woking took the lead against the run of play. Captain Danny Bunce advanced down the left and looped a high cross to the far side of the Fleet penalty area where an unmarked Matt Pattison drilled it first time past Lance Cronin. The Fleet should perhaps have equalised three minutes later when James Smith headed a free-kick off-target when well-placed and Nade’s follow-up hit Joe Gassom’s arm.
Woking had another effort on 38 minutes when Giuseppe Sole shrugged off Smith in the area and played in Adam Green who hit a shot into the side netting as Cronin got across to pressure him. Three minutes later and play had again reverted to the other end where a Bostwick cross bobbled its way across the six-yard box eluding three Woking defenders but the advancing Nade couldn’t quite connect either.
The second half was a more disappointing affair, though the Fleet still had the upper hand for the most part. Despite their pressure, the Fleet rarely troubled Gindre in the Woking goal and indeed almost gave away a second on the hour mark when the impressive Pattison robbed Peter Hawkins on the edge of the box, accelerated into the area and his cross for Kevin James would have created problems but for Smith’s timely intervention.
The Fleet had to be content with half-chances, Long’s cross-cum-shot on 62 minutes plucked from the air by Gindre, and the keeper repeating the trick after a well-placed Paul McCarthy met a Nade flick-on. Nade almost went one better when Luke Moore hit a perfect cross from the right edge of the penalty area and the former Woking striker ran beyond the defence to head into the back of the net but the assistant referee had flagged for a borderline offside decision.
Liam Daish went 4-3-3, pushing Moore forward and also sacrificed Sacha Opinel for John Akinde late in the game, but it was Woking who nearly grabbed the game’s second goal on 85 minutes when substitute Liam Marum was one-on-one with Cronin. He paused to pick his spot but hit his shot against the post from 15 yards, Cronin adjudged to have got his fingertips to it. There was only time for Purcell to pick up a harsh booking after a spat with Goma Lambu and Woking held out despite five minutes of injury time. The Fleet will be kicking themselves at letting at least a point slip in a game in which they were on top but lacked real creativity in the final third.
TEAM: Cronin, Hawkins, Opinel (Coleman 83), Smith, McCarthy, Bostwick (Barrett 72), McPhee, Long, Moore (Akinde 90), Nade Purcell. Subs not used: French, Starkey.