National League: Woking 3 Wealdstone 2
PUBLISHED: 10:28 06 May 2019
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 defenders Freddie Grant and Connor Stevens gave Stones fans belief, before second-half replies from Moussa Diarra, Max Kretzschmar and Jake Hyde sent Woking through.
The semi-final began with a frantic start as Stones broke the deadlock inside three minutes as 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 raptures.
Woking needed a positive response after the Stones' fast start and 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 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.
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It was a mountain to climb for Woking to overturn a two-goal deficit, butt Kretzschmar provided an opportunity for the Cards when the winger's corner from the right found Jack Cook who headed over.
Everything positive for Woking in the second half was courtesy of Kretzschmar and 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 he headed past Scott to halve 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 as Alan Dowson's Cards gained all the momentum and confidence, equalising in the 86th minute when a quick free-kick found Kretzschmar who made no mistake inside the penalty area to convert a fine finish.
Wealdstone's warriors were on the back foot as the tie headed towards stoppage time, with the potential of extra-time looming.
Stones full-back Rhys Tyler tried an audacious volley from distance which did not trouble Ross, but as Wealdstone fought to salvage their energy, they suffered the heartbreak of a third Woking goal two minutes into injury time when Hyde was sent through on goal and lofted the ball agonisingly over Scott which caused Kingfield to erupt in joy.
Bobby Wilkinson's side gave everything and left nothing on the pitch, but Woking's class showed late on to undo a fantastic Wealdstone performance in the space of 15 minutes.