Chelmsford City 2 Woking 3
Blue Square Bet South
28th April 2012
Woking brought their season to a successful conclusion at a wet, windy and cold Melbourne Stadium. Still trying to play their brand of passing football, quick on the break and dangerous at set pieces, a Cards side unsurprisingly brimming with confidence, secured a final three points despite the best efforts of the home side particularly in an open first half.
Garry Hill’s champions were applauded onto the pitch by the Clarets with Andy Little making a first league start since 1st January against Farnborough. Adam Doyle returned to the side after suspension at left back with Dale Binns introduced on the left side of midfield in place of Moses Ademola. Gez Sole played up front supported by Keiran Murtagh pushing forward from midfield. Tom Davis started in midfield with Paris Cowan-Hall moved to the bench.
Both sides attempted to play passing football from the start but it was never easy. The greasy surface, much rutted in places due to the hardwork of the Chelmsford staff to get the game on following torrential rain earlier in the week, made it difficult to control the ball and players were constantly losing their footing. Not helped by some fussy refereeing, the game still managed to produce plenty of chances – the Cards had not come to “make up the numbers” particularly in ‘the Gaffers’ back yard!
Woking’s most potent attacking threat came down the right-hand flank with Betsy, Newton and Murtagh regularly combining to find space and create opportunities. The Cards' first goal came after ten minutes from their second corner on the right taken by Dale Binns. It was a well-executed and simple goal. Binns’ cross was met at the far post by Jack King, who powered his header past Searle and into the far corner. The Champions were up and running.
Almost immediately Chelmsford had an opportunity to equalise but Akurang’s finish was weak. However, with sixteen minutes on the clock the Clarets had their equaliser. This time Akurang did manage to finish from close range after the ball had been played across the Woking area from the left wing.
Chelmsford were now looking very threatening going forward and within minutes of their equaliser had the ball in the net again. Fortunately for the Champions, it was ruled out for offside. Then at the other end in an increasingly open game and despite the dreadful conditions Woking had an excellent chance to go ahead. Kevin Betsy beat his man on the left flank and played in Murtagh with a great cross field ball. One-on-one with the keeper Murtagh slipped on the greasy surface when a goal looked certain.
Woking then had cause to ride their luck! A great strike on the 28th minute saw Chelmsford hit the post with Little beaten and ten minutes later a moment of real controversy. Referee Blackledge waved away raucous appeals for a Chelmsford penalty after the ball, played in from a corner on the right, bounced up on the muddy surface and appeared to strike Adam Newton’s hand.
But the Clarets got their second goal shortly after and took the lead. A misplaced pass from Jack King enabled Slabber to break away and he finished impecabbly, firing past Andy Little and into the far corner of the net.
Almost at the break and this time it was record-breaker Gez Sole who managed to grab a second goal for the Cards and send the teams in on equal terms. For once it was a close-range header after the ball had been knocked back across goal from a corner. Gez has now scored in eleven consecutive league games and has extended his record even further – a remarkable achievement.
Half-time: Chelmsford City 2 Woking 2
Woking were now playing with a strong wind at their backs and managed to control most of the second half as Chelmsford flagged – no doubt not helped by the news of Basingstoke’s march towards the play-offs.
The winner came on the hour mark and after Woking had put together the best move of the match. Again the initial threat came down the right-hand side with Newton, Murtagh and co combining well to retain possession with some superb close control and a delightful back heel. The ball was eventually played into the box only for it to be half cleared to Murtagh prowling on the edge of the box. He finished superbly from ten yards slotting his shot through a crowded penalty area and into the net.
As both managers made the inevitable substitutions so the game began to wind down – the Championship already secured and the play-off places finalised. There was still time for Clark to clatter Dale Binns and the inconsistent Mr Blackledge to simply wave play on, much to the consternation of the Woking bench.
Paris Cowan-Hall, on as a late substitute, set up Jack King for a thunderous drive that clipped the top of the Chelmsford cross bar. At the other end the Clarets hit the post for a second time from a corner and with minutes remaining a sweet curling shot from Cowan-Hall was deflected wide.
Woking were able to see out the remaining four minutes of time added on with no alarms and bring this historic season to a satisfying conclusion. Nine points clear at the top of the table and a record that showed they had remained in first postion without interuption since 20th September 2011. True champions to the season’s end!!
Woking: Andy Little, Adam Newton, Adam Doyle, Keiran Murtagh, Alan Inns, Joe McNerney, Jack King, Tom Davis, Dale Binns (Moses Ademola 81), Giuseppe Sole (Paris Cowan-Hall 72) Kevin Betsy
Unused subs: Elvis Hammond, Derek Duncan, Aaron Howe
Chelmsford City: Stuart Searle, Justin Miller, Aiden Palmer, Adam Tann, Kenny Clark, Dave Rainford, Warren Whitely, Jamie Slabber, Cliff Akurang (Kezie Ibe 76), Max Cornhill, Ishmael Walsh (Alex Osborn 69)
Unused subs: Seny Diedhiou, Craig Parker, Conor Gough
Cautions: Max Cornhill
MOTM: Keiran Murtagh – an excellent goal and constantly creative on an afternoon when playing good football was never easy