Woking 2 Cambridge United 1
9 October 2012
A hard-fought, high quality game saw the Cards just edge home after surviving some heavy pressure from the U’s. Bradley Bubb’s header in the 19th minute, from a clever cross by ‘man of the match’ Kevin Betsy, gave Woking a first-half lead, to which Betsy himself added in the 59th minute with a superbly-worked goal. But Cambridge almost immediately pulled a goal back through Robbie Willmott’s header from a corner and the Cards had to defend stoutly to hang onto three valuable points.
Sam Beasant made his home debut in goal in the absence of the suspended Aaron Howe. With Adam Newton injured, Mark Ricketts moved to right back, with Mike Cestor on the left and Joe McNerney and Brett Johnson at centre back. New loan signing Billy Knott, a real livewire until forced off injured in the second half, made his debut in central midfield alongside Jack Parkinson and Lee Sawyer, with Betsy and Gavin McCallum on the flanks and Bradley Bubb up front.
The Cards started brightly, with the ball being moved sweetly by Betsy, Sawyer and Knott in midfield. Parkinson got in a rasping shot in the 5th minute which the Cambridge keeper, Jonathan Hedge, parried away for a corner. But the U’s too showed that they were also intent on a passing game, making good progress on several occasions down Woking’s right flank.
Knott pulled an effort wide and McCallum volleyed over after some clever juggling by Bubb in the box before, at the other end, the ball flashed across the face of the Woking goal. Knott showed his ambition with another strike and McCallum put in a teasing cross as the Cards edged the attacking moves.
In the 19th minute Woking’s momentum brought the first goal. A fine long ball from McNerney reached Betsy near the byeline in front of the Leslie Gosden Stand. His clever chipped cross took out the keeper, whilst Bubb jumped high to nod the ball home inside the far post.
Cambridge sought to respond quickly as Tom Elliott, who always presented a threat, saw his shot deflected for a corner, whilst Beasant held a low shot cleanly – as he did all evening.
The Cards had a glorious chance to grab another goal in the 27th minute as a clever dummy left Bubb with just the keeper to beat from a couple of yards out but he mis-kicked horribly and the chance was gone. You wondered at the time how costly that miss might prove to be against a Cambridge side who looked bright going forward and with a good goalscoring record.
There was a nervy moment for home fans a few minutes later when Beasant came out for the ball, only for Elliott to hook it over him but the reliable Johnson had covered his keeper and was able to avert the danger.
Betsy set up Knott for a chance which the Sunderland loanee scooped over the bar before Cestor was booked for a poor tackle as he tried to prevent a Cambridge break down the Woking left.
As half-time approached both sides continued to look threatening on the attack, with Woking nearly benefitting from a couple of quick counter-attacks – one of which failed as McCallum couldn’t control a long clearance – whilst Beasant had to show a safe pair of hands again to hold a low shot, although he could only watch as a strike from Elliott flew narrowly wide.
Half-time: Woking 1 Cambridge United 0
Woking again started the half strongly, with Betsy and Knott combining well as they surged towards the Cambridge area, whilst McCallum made a superb run down the right, outpacing two defenders and swinging in a fine cross. The Cards midfielders were having to work hard, though, to try to close down Cambridge and it was disappointing to see Sawyer booked again for a rash (but not malicious) tackle. The better side of his game was seen in a wonderful ‘take’ and run a few moments later, which Knott then emulated as he surged through the Cambridge defence, only to see his fierce shot parried away for a corner.
In the 59th minute Knott cleverly played in Betsy in the area. Coolness personified, Betsy side-stepped a defender and passed the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
Any thoughts that the second goal might make the evening slightly more comfortable for Garry Hill’s side were soon dispelled as the visitors grabbed a goal back three minutes later. A corner was swung in and the impressive Robbie Willmott got in at the near post to deflect it past Beasant.
From here on in the Cards found themselves under mounting pressure as Cambridge fought tooth and nail for an equaliser, racking up a good many corners in the process as the Woking defence cleared their lines a little desperately at times. The Woking cause wasn’t helped by the loss of Knott in the 65th minute with what looked like a fairly serious injury: he was helped off after several minutes during which it looked as though a stretcher might be needed. Dean Sinclair replaced him but Knott’s pace and energy were undoubtedly missed as the U’s pressed forward.
Luke Berry went close for Cambridge, whilst another effort was cleared by a combination of Beasant and a post, and several more corners resulted in shots and headers over the bar or wide of the target. Garry Hill had thrown on Brett Williams for Bradley Bubb in an attempt to gain more possession up front but the tide remained very much in Cambridge’s favour. But all credit to this Woking side, who worked tirelessly to conserve the three points and managed to see out the 90 minutes and the six minutes of added time which resulted from Knott’s injury.
Garry Hill will no doubt have been pleased and a little relieved to have gained three points against a very capable Cambridge side in what was another excellent advert for BSP football.
Woking: Sam Beasant, Mark Ricketts, Mike Cestor, Brett Johnson, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Lee Sawyer, Billy Knott (Dean Sinclair 69), Kevin Betsy, Gavin McCallum (Adam Doyle 88), Bradley Bubb (Brett Williams 76)
Unused subs: Loick Pires, Andy Little
Booked: Mike Cestor, Lee Sawyer, Joe McNerney
Cambridge United: Jonathan Hedge, Josh Coulson, Tom Shaw (Ricky Wellard 58), Michael Gash, Tom Elliott (Andy Pugh 60), Rory McAuley, Rossi Jarvis (Adriano Moke 53), Luke Berry, Jonathan Thorpe, Robbie Willmott, Daniel Andrew
Unused subs: Michael Wylde, Craig Ross
Sponsor’s MOTM: Kevin Betsy (pictured)
Attendance: 1420 (199 away fans)