Woking 1 Crawley Town 0
17th July 2012
The Cards put on an extremely encouraging display, as a goal from triallist Kieron St Aimie allowed them to overcome League One side Crawley Town.
In their first match at Kingfield since lifting the Blue Square South Trophy in April, the hosts recovered from a first minute penalty miss to pounce on a mistake by Reds’ defender Kyle McFadzean. Having also missed the penalty, St Aimie gratefully latched on to McFadzean’s under-hit back-pass, rounding keeper Paul Jones and rolling the ball home.
A heroic defensive performance ensued from then on, with Mike Cestor particularly impressing as he looked to increase his chances of earning a contract for next season.
For those Woking fans who failed to make the trip to Windsor on Saturday, it was their first chance to gain a glimpse of their team’s three new signings (Brett Johnson, Jack Parkinson and Loick Pires), and numerous triallists.
Amongst those potential new players were St Aimie, a familiar foe to the Cards from his days at Maidenhead, and Lee Sawyer, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with Woking the season before last.
Players retained from Saturday’s disappointing defeat for a second chance included Cestor (pictured), familiar of course from his appearances for the home side last term, wingers Greg Mills and Jesse Waller-Lassen, keeper Mark Scott and full back Rene Steer.
Woking began the game in a 4-5-1 formation, which included Scott in goal, a back four of Adam Newton, Parkinson, Johnson and Cestor, a midfield of Jay Davies, Mark Ricketts, Kevin Betsy, Mills and Sawyer, with St Aimie the lone striker.
The visitors, meanwhile, lined up with a mix of first team players, youngsters and triallists, but names such as Matt Sadler, Gary Alexander and Billy Clarke showed their intent to come away with a positive result.
The game kicked off at a surprisingly fast pace, and within thirty seconds the Cards found themselves with a penalty: Betsy playing a neat pass into St Aimie, who in attempting to turn was brought down by McFadzean.
In almost apologetic fashion, perhaps aware that the penalty award had been a soft one, St Aimie struck a horribly weak penalty to Jones's left, resulting in a fairly simple save.
However, the Cards' potential new striker quickly atoned for his error, intercepting McFadzean’s attempted back-pass and confidently rounding the Crawley number one, slotting the ball calmly into an empty net.
The visitors came close to striking back immediately, Nick Adams denied an equaliser only by Johnson’s last ditch goal-line clearance. Clarke also came close with a free-kick.
While Garry Hill’s side were certainly without the majority of possession, their hard work off the ball enabled them to sustain their lead in relative comfort. They were even able to fashion the odd chance, Betsy’s threaded pass almost setting Mills through on goal, while St Aimie also looked dangerous from set pieces.
Half-time: Woking 1 Crawley Town 0
Crawley made eight changes at the break, introducing the likes of Hope Akpan and John Akinde, and went close soon after, as Josh Simpson saw his effort deflected narrowly wide.
Amongst a string of substitutions, that included the Cards introducing Steer, Waller-Lassen, Pires, Joe McNerney, Giuseppe Sole, Josh Griffiths and George Frith, the Reds again came close to forcing an equaliser: Akpan forcing Scott into a decent save while Sadler saw his effort fly just over. At the other end both Johnson, prior to going off, and Pires forced smart stops from Crawley’s substitute keeper Niall Burdon.
All in all, a strong display by the Cards against a good team, and a vast improvement on the efforts offered in their opening season encounter.
Parkinson, who enjoyed just under an hour in his regulation centre back position, looked to have the makings of a strong defensive partnership developing with Johnson, while Newton and Cestor completed a strong back four. Scott appears to have the makings of a good goalkeeper, and could provide decent cover for Aaron Howe.
Of the other triallists, Mills and Sawyer put in strong performances in midfield, and would certainly fill gaps in the current Woking squad – although interest in the ex-Southend United playmaker is rumoured to be high. St Aimie had a quiet evening, after the initial drama of his penalty miss and goal, but would again represent a decent addition.
The Cards' next game is on Saturday, when they take on a QPR XI at Kingfield. It will be interesting to see where Hill and Thompson proceed from here, especially in terms of those players they choose to add to their already exciting set of players.
Woking: Mark Scott*, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor*, Mark Ricketts (Joe McNerney 52), Brett Johnson (Rene Steer* 66), Jack Parkinson (George Frith 78), Greg Mills* (Jesse Waller-Lassen* 58), Lee Sawyer* (Josh Griffiths 78), Kieron St Aimie* (Loick Pires 58), Jay Davies (Giuseppe Sole 71), Kevin Betsy
Unused Subs: Aaron Howe
Goal(s): St Aimie 7
Crawley Town: Paul Jones (Niall Burdon 46), David Hunt (Mark Connolly 46), Kyle McFadzean (Jonte Smith 84), Charlie Wassmer (Louis John 46), Mat Sadler (Scott Neilson 75), Dannie Bulman (Josh Simpson 46), Shaun Cooper (Wickham 75), Billy Clarke (Hope Akpan 46), Nicky Adams (Scott Davies 46), Morgan Ferrier (Dan Evans 46), Gary Alexander (John Akinde 46)
MOTM: Mike Cestor – Extremely efficient throughout, dealt well with the change from left back to centre back mid-way through the second-half, and kept out the string of big name strikers the visitors employed.