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Whites victorious as favourites clash

Glen Harrington - 15th August 2010

Whites victorious as favourites clash Woking 0 Dover Athletic 1
Blue Square Bet South
14th August 2010

Graham Baker’s Cards kicked off their second Blue Square South campaign by welcoming Dover Athletic in a repeat of last term’s Play-Off Semi-Final. Both sides showed off numerous changes in personnel, including the new Whites’ manager, Martin Hayes.

The Woking line-up starred five new players starting with Dave Gilroy, who partnered Craig Faulconbridge up front in a 4-4-2 formation. Elsewhere holding man Francis Quarm and left-footer Sam Hurrell both slotted into the midfield, with Alan Inns given the task of filling Tom Hutchinson’s sizeable shoes at the back. The final addition saw former loan star and pre-season favourite Lenny Pidgeley replace Ross Worner, now at Charlton Athletic, as goalkeeper.

The Cards started brightly and quickly came close to breaking the deadlock. First, Inns’ header was neatly stopped by Dover keeper Ross Flitney before neat work from Hurrell, playing in Gilroy, resulted in a skewed shot wide.

As Dover’s counter-attacking tactics began to cause problems of their own the Cards began to look nervy and fell back to a long ball game. Even with the best efforts of Faulconbridge the front men struggled to get involved and the home fans became increasingly frustrated as the visitors gained the ascendancy.

With the game becoming scrappy and disjointed, the opening goal seemed unlikely to be provided from anything other than a set piece. Eighteen minutes in, and Jon Wallis almost provided just that – the Dover midfielder seeing his bullet-like free-kick slam against the crossbar.

The escape was short-lived. Less than a minute later a rash challenge from Alan Inns halted a surging run from Elliot Charles, referee Adam Fielding pointing to the spot. Set-piece specialist Wallis stepped up, Pidgeley doing his best to put the Dover man off his stride. This was just what he did – the side-footed penalty smartly stopped by Lenny down to his left.

This was only to spark the start of a busy afternoon for the Cards stopper. Five minutes later and Pidgeley produced an even finer save, sprawling down to the right-hand post to push clear yet another Wallis free-kick. Meanwhile Charles and fellow front-man Adam Birchall looked increasingly dangerous, with only the final finish letting the visitors down.

As the Whites pushed further forward in search of a seemingly inevitable goal it was the Cards who should have taken the lead. A scrambled clearance out of defence enabled Moses Ademola to break free and he skipped round the final defender with still 40 yards to goal. With both Gilroy and Faulconbridge screaming, unmarked, for the square ball, Moses took on the keeper himself – the attempted chip smothered by Flitney, leaving Ademola’s team-mates perhaps understandably frustrated after the winger’s initial good work.

Five minutes before the break and another Dover onslaught saw Joe Tabiri denied by the legs of Pidgeley and a goalmouth scramble resulted in towering defender Ollie Schulz heading against the bar. All in all, the Cards were perhaps grateful to go in goalless.

Half-time: Woking 0 Dover Athletic 0

Eight minutes into the second-half and the hero quickly turned villain. As Pidgeley attempted to usher the ball from play, Adam Birchall succeeded in snatching it off his toes. Birchall and Pidgeley went shoulder to shoulder across the six-yard box but the striker’s superior pace allowed him another touch before both fell to the floor appealing for foul play. Unluckily for Lenny, the ball landed at the feet of Charles, who had no problem in tucking into an empty net.

The remainder of the second period was far less eventful than the first. With play not helped by the tide of rain, Graham Baker introduced Toby Little and Andy Forbes in quick succession in place of Sam Hurrell and Dave Gilroy. Despite the changes it was once again Lenny Pidgeley to the rescue as his diving block denied Jon Wallis.

Only in the final ten minutes, with Inns taking on the emergency extra striker role, did the Cards really threaten. It was Inns himself who produced the best effort – a swivel and volley producing a spectacular save from Flitney.

Old Sogbanmu was also thrown on in the closing stages but the Woking charge simply came too late as the visitors repelled all attacks. In the end a disappointing result that perhaps doesn’t tell the full story. On the one hand, Pidgeley’s error of judgment allowed the Dover striking pair to take advantage and score what proved to be the winning goal. However, without Lenny’s man-of-the-match display the Whites could easily have gone home with a much bigger goal-difference. There are also positives to take with the knowledge that this will be one of the strongest rivals the Cards will face this season and that a new-look team may also take time to blend and adjust.

All concerned will be hoping for a quick response as battle is re-joined on Monday night at Chelmsford, another of the league’s title contenders and another Play-Off Semi-Finalist from last season.

Come on, you Cards!

Woking: Lenny Pidgeley, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Alan Inns, Joe McNerney, Moses Ademola, Francis Quarm, Craig Faulconbridge (Ola Sogbanmu 89), Dave Gilroy (Andy Forbes 63), Sam Hurrell (Toby Little 54).

Unused subs: Charlie Turnbull, Matt Pegler.

Bookings: Thomas 28, Anane 80.

Dover Athletic: Ross Flitney, Matt Fish, Tom Wynter, Jon Wallis, Ollie Schulz, Rob Gillman, Luke l’Anson, Joe Tabiri, Elliot Charles (Shaun Welford 83), Adam Birchall, Kane Rice (Dean Hill 90).

Unused subs: Harry Baker, Sam Cutler, Lee Hook.

Goals: Charles 53.

Bookings: None.

MOTM: Lenny Pidgeley – An unfortunate error cannot take away from his fine all-round performance consisting of several excellent stops. (Lenny is shown receiving his award from match sponsor, Peter Jordan.)

Attendance: 1458


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