Woking couldn’t cause an upset against League One side Oxford United, as the U’s progressed to the FA Cup Second Round in monsoon conditions. Goals from in-form Billy Bodin and the rapidly emerging Tyler Goodrham saw Oxford safely through to the next round where they’ll face fellow league rival side Exeter City.
A massive attendance of 4,000 odd people showed up on a torrentially rainy Wednesday night, which played into both the game’s atmosphere and style on the pitch. Darren Sarll decided to make just the single change from Saturday’s hard-fought win at Boreham Wood, with Oxford academy graduate Kyran Lofthouse replacing top goal scorer Reece Grego-Cox, who dropped to the bench.
Once the game had got underway, The Cards were very nearly ahead when the ball smashed against the bar with Ed McGinty stranded, after the ball came off a United player from 25 yards out. It would have been a comical yet extraordinary own goal.
The pitch was starting to absorb more and more water, which meant that the bounce was unpredictable at times. James Daly and Lofthouse were struggling to get down the sides as a result of this, meaning that the game was mostly fought in the midfield area. On the half-hour mark, Padraig Amond managed to get into the area and force a save from McGinty, low to his left.
The EFL side, however, took the lead when Steve Seddon's cross caused some trouble and Matty Taylor knocked the ball back across goal where Bodin bundled in at the back post! Harsh on Craig Ross who put his body on the line but just couldn’t get across in time.
Just four minutes later though, the non-league side was level when Rohan Ince’s first-time strike, curled into the bottom right-hand corner to send the supporters into jubilant scenes. It was a stunning goal from a player who wears his heart on his sleeve week in week out and thoroughly deserved that goal.
The heavy rain continued into the second half, but it didn’t stop the visitors as young academy graduate Goodrham was played in by Brannagan and he finished into the far corner. On reflection, it could have been prevented but higher quality finishing on the day was what separated the two strong sides.
Oxford found themselves through on goal again, but this time Dan Moss slid across the penalty area to produce a stunning block and somehow tip the ball over the bar, to keep the score margin to just one goal.
Woking then had two absolutely fantastic chances to take the game to a replay. The first came when substitute Grego-Cox was found open in the box but his header was saved by McGinty from close range. If he had directed the ball to either corner, then it would have surely been a goal. The next chance came when a breathtakingly acrobatic effort from Jimm Kellermann smashed off the crossbar. If it was a few inches lower then it most certainly would have been up for the goal of the tournament, let alone the individual round.
Another substitute Jake Vokins was also next up to try his luck, but he couldn’t keep the ball down from his shot outside the box.
The players showed a lot of character, outstanding intensity and more importantly, intent. That felt like a proper league game which is a true testament to the Woking players. They fought really hard and it’s a shame they couldn’t get a replay. They will now put full focus on the playoff push as well as the Isuzu FA Trophy.
Whilst the outcome is disappointing, to go toe to toe with a League One side sat 40 places ahead in the pyramid is extraordinary and hopefully, performances like these will continue through to April and May next year. The FA Cup journey may be over for another season, but there is still plenty of optimism around the club and you can bet every pound that Sarll’s team will be back to winning ways very soon.
There’s no better place to start than this Saturday’s game against Altrincham, which is the second of four consecutive home games in a row.
Woking Starting XI: Ross, Moss, Cuthbert, McNerney, Casey (75), Ince, Anderson (90+1), Kellermann, Lofthouse (62), Daly (75), Amond (62)
Subs: Wady, Bilongo (90+1), Roles (75), Vokins (75), Browne (62), Grego-Cox (62)
Oxford United Starting XI: McGinty, Anderson (84), Moore, Findlay, Seddon, Bate (63), McGuane (80), Goodrham, Brannagan, Bodin (62), Taylor (62)
Subs: Eastwood, Mousinho (84), Henry (63), O’Donkor (62), Brown, Gorrin (80), Golding, Browne (62)
Man of the Match: Scott Cuthbert