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Positive Signs In Spite Of Defeat

Alan Worth - 22nd July 2009

Positive Signs In Spite Of Defeat WOKING 1 v FULHAM XI 4

Tuesday 21st July 2009

Scorers:

Woking - Hutchinson (42 min)

Fulham – Harris (33 min); Bouazza (45 min); Harris (51 min); Penkett (83 min)

Attendance (Not announced)

A first pre-season friendly at Kingfield gave Cards fans a second opportunity to check out the form of our current squad – new signings, trialists and Academy players. A Fulham XI provided the opposition and featured a squad made up of reserve and youth team members. Fulham also had a fixture on the same night at Bournemouth. Given Graham Baker’s pledge to use his contacts with Fulham to bail him out if the going gets tough next season, then this game also gave supporters a chance to consider who might make a useful loan signing later in the year.

Woking started with Worner in goal, a back three of Sinclair, Hutchinson and Thomas, a midfield made up of trialist Ricky Anane, Ricketts, Arter and Barrett, with a front two of Sole and potential loan signing Peter Vincenti (pictured). Cards fans may remember the cracking goal he scored against us for Stevenage at Kingfield last season. Vincenti led the line well in the first half, was quick, worked hard and laid the ball off neatly with head and feet.

Once the game had settled Woking, playing towards the Leslie Gosden Stand, dominated possession early on, with Ricketts and Arter controlling things well from midfield. The Cards’ first corner came in the 6th minute after a Vincenti cross had been diverted by the returning Joe Anderson playing at the back for the opposition. Hutchinson’s resulting header from the corner was strong but deflected by a defender and easily saved.

Woking were already looking the more likely to score, with Vincenti having a shot blocked and then Arter skilfully lobbing the Fulham keeper. He should perhaps have scored, holding his head in hands in frustration. He released Barrett on the left in the 9th minute. The winger cut inside but his shot flew just past the left-hand post. A minute later it was the turn of loan signing Luke Medley to turn quickly on the right and feed Vincenti but his resulting shot was easily saved.

In the 16th minute Fulham finally had their first shot from Hoesen but it was off target. Woking’s back three appeared to be dealing comfortably with the Fulham forward line.

Woking continued to press and were now playing good, controlled football – Barrett shot wide, Medley’s pass put Sole through on goal but the Fulham keeper just managed to get to the ball first and then, after Ricketts had won the ball well in midfield, it was moved on to Thomas and finally Sole, whose shot was parried well by Etheridge. Vincenti followed up but his left-foot shot was blasted well wide. Again, another good chance for the Cards to open their account for the new season had gone begging.

It was against the run of play that Fulham opened the scoring. On the 33rd minute Bouazza crossed from the left, Thomas appeared to slip and miss his kick, allowing the ball to carry on across the goalmouth to the waiting Harris, who had the simple task of slotting the ball past the helpless Worner from six yards.

Nine minutes later Woking deservedly equalised. From an Arter corner on the left Hutchinson rose at the far post to head home – a trademark goal from the big central defender.

But Fulham immediately recaptured the lead with a soft goal on the stroke of half-time. Hutchinson was adjudged to have held a Fulham forward. From the resulting free-kick taken just outside the box, Bouazza curled the ball around the left hand side of the Cards’ four man wall. Worner slipped in trying to make a save but was well out of position as the ball found its way just inside the left-hand post.

Almost immediately Woking had an opportunity to cancel out this second Fulham goal. A free-kick in much the same position at the other end was taken by Sole. His shot was whipped over the wall but flew just over the bar.

Though going in behind at half-time it had been a good first half from the Cards with some impressive performances from Vincenti, Ricketts, Arter, Medley, Barrett and Hutchinson. To be honest, the whole team had played well, looked composed, cohesive and had created rather more chances than the Premiership club.

HALF-TIME WOKING 1 FULHAM XI 2

As is normal in these pre-season games, the second half saw multiple substitutions on both sides and as a result was often disjointed and lacked, as far as Woking were concerned, the control they had enjoyed for most of the first half.

Graham Baker made a couple of changes to the Woking side from the start, with Boardman on for Hutchinson and Donovan Simmonds replacing Medley. Almost immediately, Simmonds got on the end of a ball in from the right by Anane after he had been picked out by a good cross field ball from Ricketts. Unfortunately, the header flew over the bar.

This seemed to signal something of a resurgence from Fulham, who gradually began to dominate. Their speed and quick passing soon exposed the Cards’ defence, with Boardman in particular looking slow when required to turn. Michael Uwezu, Fulham’s speedy centre forward, was through on goal in the 51st minute after beating Boardman for pace. His shot was well parried by Worner but Harris was on hand to put away the rebound to make the score 3 - 1. Fulham continued to push forward and were looking very dangerous, with Boardman now struggling to match the pace of Uwezu.

Woking were now creating less up front but Sole volleyed over in the 57th minute from a Barrett cross. As he did so he appeared to hurt a knee and was immediately subbed. Baker now brought on Moone for Sole, Gier for Anane, trialist Obersteller for Thomas and Sintim for Sinclair.

In the 64th minute Arter’s crunching tackle in midfield resulted in the dubious award of a first yellow card from referee Lewis. He was immediately replaced by McNerney. Hussey came on for Ricketts and a minute later Jake Reid was on for the fading Vincenti.

Regular changes continued and this appeared to unsettle Woking further as Fulham’s pace continued to open up the Cards’ defence. On 67 minutes Sintim was beaten for pace with Boardman out of position. The increasingly menacing Bouazza flashed his shot past Worner’s right-hand post. He again had a free-kick just outside the left hand side of the box but this time was unable to repeat his success in the first half. Worner flew to his left to tip the fierce shot around the post. On 71 minutes Delano Sam-Yorke replaced Barrett.

On 73 minutes McNerney, who had had little time to get into the game, picked up an injury that left him limping back to the changing rooms. Gavin Miller was the replacement and moved into central defence with Boardman now operating in an unaccustomed midfield role. With Matt Pegler, an Academy goalkeeper replacing Worner, all eleven first half players had been changed and Woking’s play had lost its cohesion and was resorting rather more to the long ball.

It was no real surprise that a stronger second half performance from Fulham resulted in a fourth and final goal. Penkett raced on to a good through ball in the 83rd minute to finish comfortably.

After such a promising first half for the Cards, the second proved disappointing but overall this was a step up from Saturday and there were enough positive signs to suggest that Graham Baker is gradually putting together a squad that will at least hold its own in the Blue Square South.


Woking

Worner (Pegler 75 min); Anane (Gier 57 min); Thomas (Obersteller 57 min); Ricketts (Hussey 64 min); Hutchinson (Boardman 45 min); Sinclair (Sintim 57 min); Medley (Simmonds 45 min); Arter (McNerney 64min, Miller 73 min) ; Vincenti (Reid 65 min); Sole (Moone 57 min); Barrett (Sam-Yorke 71 min)

Fulham

Etheridge; Marsh-Brown; Anderson; Leijer; Watts; Moscatiello; Harris; Smith; Uwezu; Hoesen; Bouzza

Subs – Thomas; Stevens-Mackay; Trotter; Penkett; Bettinelli; Jones.

With thanks to Nick Shaw for the photo.
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