Woking Park, Woking
FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Attendance: 60 (estimate)
Match Rating: 3
Whilst being FA Vase day meant that I would certainly watch a match in that competition today, there were not really any stand-out fixtures for me, so I decided to tick off another ground in the Combined Counties League, with a rare opportunity for me to watch a team from the Hellenic League.
Woking Park is about a 15 minute walk south of Woking train station and is located very close to Woking's Kingsmead Stadium – one can see the floodlights and hear the crowd roar from Westfield's ground. Although the large building that partly serves as Westfield's home is tall and imposing, one would have to be able to recognise it to know it is the home ground of the football club, as there is absolutely no club signage pointing spectators to the ground, save for a small, easy to miss sign placed on the wall. It would also be absolutely no problem to watch matches here without paying, with easily accessible see through fencing around much of the pitch. Inside though, facilities are extremely impressive and easy on the eye, proving once again that modern facilities at football grounds need not to be dull and uninteresting. The large building one sees from the outside stretches along most of one length, and is a multi-purpose recreational facility with one section used by the football club. On the ground floor there is covered seating built in, whilst on the upper tier, there is the clubhouse and tea bar, with a balcony area with some pub style seats and tables scattered around which makes for an excellent place to watch the action from. Close to the building but the other side of the corner flag is a small all-seater stand, with an overgrown grass bank behind hard standing behind the rest of the byline. There is just hard standing behind the other goal, whilst spectators are not allowed along the remaining length, which is lined with another overgrown bank and trees. The 34 page programme was very good, printed on good quality paper and with plenty to read, and information about Carterton's league position and season's results was particularly appreciated.
Westfield have had a rather average start to their season, with the symmetry of having won three, drawn three and lost three of their nine league games and were in 13th place in the Combined Counties League Premier Division. They play a step above today’s visitors, who ply their trade in the Hellenic League Division One West, but are top of the table, with 13 points from 6 games. Carterton beat Chinnor 6-0 in the previous round of this competition - Westfield had a bye.
After earlier misty conditions parted sufficiently to allow warm sunshine to shine through, the match started evenly, with both teams having chances before the visitors took the lead on 23 minutes when the ball was driven low diagonally through a crowded box by Jack Heap to find the far bottom corner. They doubled their lead three minutes later with a lovely controlled clipped finish over the keeper and into the net by Chris Gilkes. Things were looking bleak for Westfield, as their play deteriorated and the visitors controlled proceedings and thoroughly deserved their two goal lead at half time.
The second half continued in much the same vein as Carterton had the better chances to score, most notably on 50 minutes with a vicious fizzing cross shot beating the keeper but hit the crossbar. On 60 minutes, Westfield saw a free kick palmed onto the post by the keeper and the loose ball couldn’t quite be forced home. This did seem to inspire the home side to take the game to the visitors more though as they dominated the rest of the match and did most of the attacking. Sadly for them, they couldn’t find a way through until the match entered added on time, when Ben Placito headed the ball over the keeper and into the net. They didn’t really threaten to force extra time in the four added on minutes though, and so it was Step 7 outfit Carterton who progressed to the First Round Proper.