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Out-of-sorts Cards well beaten

Brian Caffarey - 17th August 2010

Out-of-sorts Cards well beaten Chelmsford City 3 Woking 0
16 August 2010

Writing a match report for the official site when things go well is a relatively easy, pleasant task. Writing one when it’s hard to think of anything positive to say is much more problematic. The scoreline at the Melbourne Stadium last night suggests that the Cards were well beaten, but it doesn’t fully convey just how poor the performance was. Had Chelmsford, 3-0 up after 21 minutes, really pushed hard, they could easily have doubled their advantage.

Graham Baker switched to a 4-5-1 formation, bringing in Jerome Maledon in place of Francis Quarm in midfield, with Toby Little and Sam Hurrell on the flanks, and with just Craig Faulconbridge up front. Accordingly, Dave Gilroy dropped to the bench. The Clarets’ line-up included Takumi Aki, who had impressed in trials for Woking, and who proceeded to torment Ricky Anane, who was booked for his first attempt to tackle him.

The home side, confident after a good win at Basingstoke at the weekend and bolstered by the belief that this season’s squad will deliver a stronger promotion challenge than last year, started well, with Nunn connecting with a fine volley from distance, which Lenny Pidgeley fielded comfortably. Moses Ademola, perhaps intermittently Woking’s best player on the night, got a decent cross in from the right, well taken by Chelmsford’s keeper, James Pullen.

In the 9th minute Pidgeley, for the second game running, pressed the suicide button. Alan Inns’s header deflected a cross towards the corner. The keeper, reasonably enough, chased it down but instead of booting it far into the stand merely succeeded in passing it along the touchline to Nunn. Pidgeley seemed not to appreciate the danger initially and by the time he tried to rush back to cover his goal, Nunn’s long-range effort was snaking its way to the back of the Woking net. 1-0 to the Clarets.

A free-kick which went straight through the Woking defence didn’t inspire confidence but worse was to follow in the 15th minute. Aki out-jumped Anane to flick the ball over Inns and into the path of the impressive Chelmsford front man, Higgins, who strode on to thrash the ball past Pidgeley. 2-0.

And it got worse still. In the 21st minute the Cards’ defence failed to head clear a corner swung towards the far post. The ball was headed onto the bar and the Clarets’ skipper, Rainford, was on the spot to nod it back into the net. 3-0.

There was little prospect of the Cards recovering from this deficit but there was little sign, in truth, that they had the ability to do so anyway. The midfield stuttered, with Hurrell and Little barely in evidence, and Maledon and Mark Ricketts rarely getting ‘clean’ ball, while up front Faulconbridge did not look likely to get much change out of a solid home central rearguard.

An out-of-sorts Woking managed to repel further Chelmsford attacks, with Cook firing narrowly wide from a free-kick. Just before half-time the Woking attack flickered into life. Ademola, now popping up through the middle, battled well to create a shooting chance but dragged it well wide, and then Anane made a good run into the box, passing to Faulconbridge, who should have done better than chip his shot wide.

Half-time: Chelmsford City 3 Woking 0

An unchanged Woking side started the second half more brightly, with Ademola’s enterprising run unlucky not to win him a corner, and Faulconbridge seeing a strike blocked. But the side’s frustration soon showed up as Inns and Aswad Thomas were booked. A scramble in the Woking box threatened to increase the home side’s lead but the danger was narrowly averted. At the other end, Faulconbridge flicked on to Little, whose volley was deflected for a corner.

That was Little’s last contribution, with Graham Baker bringing on Daryn Hennessy in his place. But it proved to be an ill-timed substitution as, a couple of minutes later, Thomas (apparently also involved in an ‘off the ball’ incident) made his second rash challenge, diving in to earn a straight red. Hurrell then switched to left back.

Down to ten men, the Cards’ minimal chances of staging a recovery were completely extinguished, and the mystery is how the home side failed to add to the scoreline. The lively Cook went close and, in the 70th minute, Pidgeley had to punch clear twice as the home side eased forward, enjoying the ability to pass the ball around comfortably and to bring on substitutes without any fear of sacrificing the game.

Andy Forbes came on for Faulconbridge with some 20 minutes to go but the focus was on Aki as he unleashed a superb volley, just missing the far post. Wry amusement ensued as the matchday announcer informed Woking fans that the Supporters’ Club coach would be leaving the ground very promptly once the game had finished. One suspects that most Woking-ites would have been happy to have left well before the end!

Another decent run by Ademola was spoiled by a poor final shot, and Forbes lost his footing as he tried to attack the home penalty area. Pidgeley then had to make a superb save to keep out Lock’s terrific strike from distance, with the Woking goal somehow surviving as the ball bounced around the box from the resulting corner.

As the game drew to a close, Woking fashioned probably their best attacking move of the night down the right, with Ricketts’s shot being blocked, but Inns side-footed well over from the subsequent corner.

An injury-time clearance off the Woking line maintained the 3-0 scoreline before the referee drew a hugely disappointing evening to a close.

The Cards have now lost both of their opening games, scoring no goals and conceding four. Both Dover Athletic and Chelmsford City look well placed to mount serious promotion challenges again but Woking fans have yet to see any evidence that their side can repeat last season’s challenge. The next few games look easier on paper. The hope must be that some confidence and ‘bite’ can be restored with some improved performances against weaker sides.

Woking: Lenny Pidgeley, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Jerome Maledon, Alan Inns, Joe McNerney, Moses Ademola (Dave Gilroy), Mark Ricketts, Craig Faulconbridge (Andy Forbes, 71), Sam Hurrell, Toby Little (Daryn Hennessy, 61)

Unused subs: Matt Pegler, Francis Quarm

Sent off: Aswad Thomas

Booked: Ricky Anane, Joe McNerney, Alan Inns, Aswad Thomas

Attendance: 948

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