Solihull Moors 2 Woking 2
Vanarama National League
09 August 2016
After first day defeat at home to new look Lincoln City, the Cards had every incentive tonight to seek points on the board, despite knowing their opponents would wish to make a strong impression on their home debut in the National League. Ismail Yakubu retained his place in the centre of defence, having come on as second half substitute at the weekend, allowing Joey Jones to continue as midfield partner for Kieran Murtagh instead in a 4-4-2, with Fabio Saraiva on the bench.
A flashing shot just wide within seconds of kick off as the Cards defence failed to clear a high ball and a Jamey Osborne shot well over set the tone in the first quarter. It could have been much worse as Omari Sterling-James, who sparkled throughout the first half, bent a superb right footer against the far post. Liam Daly got up for a free header, as he would do several times, but sent his header over the bar from a corner.
Still on level terms the Cards grew into the game. Gozie Ugwu showed close control and Dennon Lewis, wide right, extended his opposing full back but the final ball through or around the midlanders rearguard was missing.
Back at the other end Jamey Osborne’s audacious 45-yard lob was spotted by a retreating Michael Poke who held on to the attempt. Daly was free again at another corner for Moors but could not find his own men, when heading back across goal. Shortly after Nathan Ralph bent a free kick from the left for Cards without contact from his forwards and it ran away for a goal kick. Woking were working the wings and Jake Caprice and Ben Gordon looked to get forward as well.
Pushing up, Murtagh and Jones were getting a grip on the action. Yakubu was nearly caught napping inside his own half, holding onto his man and getting a yellow card. Kieran Murtagh weaved his way past three challenges and fed Ralph but again he crossed too high.
The dangerous Sterling-James weaved inside and opened up all angles but Poke held the shot low to his right. For Cards at last a chance inside the area from a Lewis run but Ugwu’s effort was smothered by a timely challenge. On the half hour Lewis flew down the right exchanging a one-two and delivered a superb deep cross for fellow winger Ralph to arrive and head back across keeper Lewis for the goal of the night.
The Moors so nearly conceded another when again a right wing cross was nodded down past keeper Lewis again only for a defender to clear off the line. A break out of defence by the Cards was thwarted by a Joey Jones misplaced pass inside to an opponent and when that counter attack fed Stefan Moore inside the area on the left only Yakubu’s Bobby Moore-like stab tackle thwarted the threat. Connor Franklin’s long throws were unsettling Cards, a warning sign, but the visitors led at half time.
Half Time: Solihull Moors 0 Woking 1
The Cards began the second half brightly and Yakubu’s chip fed Ugwu’s run wide to the corner flag and cross to the near post cut out by the keeper. A Jones header from a corner couldn’t find its target. Better was to come but it happened out of the blue. Zak Ansah worked his way out to the touchline on the left and delivered a deep cross that flew over Lewis into the top far corner of his net for 2-0.
The Moors were stunned. Ugwu was running free now on the right. Another break from wide right for the Cards put in Jake Caprice only to force a corner; from it, Ugwu shot against a defender on the goal line after a header down. Jones headed over from another right wing corner.
The Moors’ manager Marcus Bignot had seen enough and made all three changes for the home side at once. On came Knights for captain Beswick, White for Brown and Asante for Moore. Still Woking went for it Lewis speeding onto Murtagh’s chip, but his run was cut off in the area at the expense of a corner.
The tide was turning back to the home side again and Charlie Penny for Ansah and Fabio Saraiva for Lewis did not seem to counter the Moors’ increasing advantage. Asante shot over. Then he ran at the Cards again and his effort was saved. Pressure on the visitors now and a deep cross from the left was kept in on the far side and turned back in. Harry White spun inside the area and shot home, beyond Poke’s right hand, to reduce the deficit.
On the counter Ugwu went down in the area but any penalty shouts were waved away by the referee and Moors immediately drove deep into the Woking half. The dangerous left wing cross being hammered away by Yakubu. He seemed to take a knock and left the action, replaced by Saraiva in midfield, with Jones dropping back into central defence.
There was little respite from swift counterattacks for the Cards now. Again White swivelled and crossed a ball that was not properly cleared. Another dangerous run from Asante and his cross landing on the penalty spot was hammered clear.
One of a series of long throws from left back Connor Franklin, who had begun his aerial bombardment in the first half, caused chaos in the Cards’ box. White yet again got his shot in and a lucky rebound allowed Jordan Fagbola to equalise from very close range.
A long Woking clearance nearly embarrassed keeper Lewis as the ball bounced back off his body with Penny closing in. The added 5 minutes (there were few if any delays for injuries in the second half) saw another long throw precariously defended, a booking for Caprice and finally a wasted free kick by Solihull, bent beyond their forwards, left to right.
Apart from other side of half time when they looked in control, this was an average performance by the Cards, although the two games in 4 days may have been a factor again. Yet they could and should have won it given, a two goal advantage. Much will depend whether they can cement the defensive unit. Yakubu limping off was a real worry. Delano Sam-Yorke was still missing from attack.
With Southport away on Saturday, rock bottom after two games, this really is another away game the Cards must look towards and get something from it.
Woking: Michael Poke, Jake Caprice, Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu (Charlie Carter 79), Ben Gordon, Dennon Lewis (Fabio Saraiva 70), Keiran Murtagh, Joey Jones, Nathan Ralph, Zak Ansah (Charlie Penny 69), Gozie Ugwu
Unused substitutes: Brandon Hall, Chike Kandi
Scorer: Nathan Ralph 31, Zak Ansah 49
Booked: Ishmael Yakubu, Fabio Saraiva, Jake Caprice
Solihull Moors: Danny Lewis, Jordan Fagbola, Liam Daly, Jordan Gough, Connor Franklin, Shepherd Murombedzi, Jamey Osborne, Ryan Beswick (Darryl Knights 60), Omari Sterling-James, Andy Brown (Harry White 60), Stefan Moore (Akwasi Asante 60)
Unused substitutes: Nathan Vaughan, Bobby Moseley
Scorers: Harry White 73, Jordan Fagbola 80
My MOTM: Ugwu buzzed and Lewis ran but - for his steadying influence and control in the tackle and pass till he went off - I would give it Ismail Yakubu.