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Brian Caffarey - 18th February 2009


17 February 2009

This was a game which both sides were desperate to win in their fight against relegation but it was the Whites, on the night, who looked the more determined and better equipped to survive. After a fairly even twenty minutes or so, in which the Cards had the better chances, the game began to be dominated by the home side, with Woking only able to mount the occasional counter-attack. In the end Woking were undone shortly after half-time when El Kholti brought down the pacy Ademeno just outside the box. Abdou was sent off and ex-Card Charlie Griffin (inevitably) steered the free-kick round the wall to earn three priceless points for the Whites, lifting them above the Cards in the table.

As if Phil Gilchrist hadn?t got enough troubles on his plate with a host of injured players, Oliver Bozanic ? by far the Cards? most effective player on Saturday ? was taken ill and had to miss the game. It was no surprise to hear that Colin Miles had failed a fitness test but it was a relief to see Paul Lorraine back in central defence, where he lined up with Michael Kamara, Patrice Konan and El Kholti. The midfield comprised Liam Marum, Bradley Quamina, Matt Pattison and Joel Ledgister, with Wilfried Domoraud and Rob Elvins up front.

As has often been the case, the Cards started brightly but didn?t take their early chances. In the 2nd minute Ledgister put in a testing cross but no one attacked it. Three minutes later he was on the receiving end of a fine cross from Marum, rising well and heading narrowly over. On eight minutes Domoraud got in a fierce effort which bounced off James Bittner in the Whites? goal, but the referee blew for a foul against the visitors in the ensuing scramble.

That period was really the high point of Woking?s attacking endeavours on the night in terms of chances created. In the meantime the Whites, who certainly looked up for a relegation fight, had mounted several attacks of their own, with the reliable Simon Eastwood having to deal with a couple of awkward back passes. Woking continued to fashion a few attacks but with decreasing impact. A Marum free-kick bounced off the wall for a corner, but his kick was too deep. Another good move, started by a fine ?take? by Domoraud, was similarly wasted by a Ledgister cross behind the goal.

From about the 25th minute onwards the tide was definitely with the Whites as they gained a firm hold on the midfield areas and started to apply serious pressure to the Woking defence, which found it hard at times to clear its lines. On the half-hour mark Charlie Griffin went close as his left-foot strike from the left of the area drifted narrowly past the far post. A minute later a goal seemed certain but El Kholti made an excellent block. A free-kick was then headed wide. A weak-ish punch by Eastwood saw the ball returned high over the bar. Chances continued to fall the Whites? way and Griffin and Matt Tubbs ought to have done better as they broke forward, Tubbs hitting the side-netting.

Just before half-time the Cards managed their first attack of note for some time but, typically on the night, Pattison?s pass to Domoraud was over-hit and the chance evaporated.

Half-time: Salisbury City 0 Woking 0

The Cards? recent tendency to start slowly after the break proved their undoing with only three more minutes on the clock. Having been wasteful with possession in midfield, the Cards? defence was suddenly pierced as Ademeno raced through the middle. El Kholti tripped him just outside the area, bringing an inevitable red card. Worse was to follow as Griffin steered the free-kick round the wall and into the corner, with Eastwood stranded.

Not surprisingly, the effect of all this was to give a huge boost to the Whites, who began to move the ball around with increasing confidence and freedom, whilst the Cards thereafter were barely in the game as an attacking force.

Salisbury had a chance to extend their lead a few minutes later when Todd?s free header bounced off Eastwood, and shortly afterwards Kamara?s saving tackle prevented another direct run on goal. Midway through the half the Cards had a brief attacking flurry but Domoraud mis-kicked horribly and Pattison?s corner went straight into Bittner?s arms.

Salisbury spurned other chances to wrap the game up. Darrell Clarke turned neatly on the edge of the box and chipped narrowly wide. Griffin missed a much better opportunity, lifting the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

It was not until the 80th minute that Woking managed another shot on goal, but Vernazza?s hurried effort went out for a throw-in. Bittner merely had to contend with a couple of weak headers and an easy save as Elvins tried a quick turn and shot.

As full-time approached, Tubbs nearly benefited from a poor back pass from Kamara. Fortunately, Eastwood resisted the temptation to bring him down and this chance too was also spurned. After four minutes of injury time the referee drew a close to what had become a decidedly uneven contest.

Woking may rue the effect of injuries and illness but there can be no complaints about the result on the night. The Cards were simply not good enough, especially in midfield, and were under the cosh well before the fateful red card and free-kick.

Woking: Simon Eastwood, Michael Kamara, Paul Lorraine, Patrice Konan, Abdou El Kholti, Liam Marum (Paolo Vernazza, 57), Bradley Quamina (Charlie Moone, 73), Matt Pattison, Joel Ledgister, Rob Elvins, Wilfried Domoraud

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Phil Gilchrist, Dan Sintin

Sent off: Abdou El Kholti

Booked: Joel Ledgister, Paolo Vernazza, Paul Lorraine

Attendance: 923

My MOTM: Michael Kamara (pictured)

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