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Cards create host of chances

Brian Caffarey - 5th September 2010

Cards create host of chances St Albans City 0 Woking 1
4 September 2010

Graham Baker sprang a surprise at Clarence Park yesterday afternoon. After appearing to imply that we could expect something akin to the defensive approach adopted at Boreham Wood on Bank Holiday Monday – and in the process deterring quite a few fans from making the trip! – the Cards lined up in an attacking formation, with a rejuvenated Moses Ademola partnering Dave Gilroy up front and with Ricky Anane enjoying the freedom of the right flank in a four-man midfield. Against an admittedly limited St Albans side, the Cards attacked virtually at will, creating a host of chances. The Saints should have been dead and buried long before the end but visiting fans had to bite their nails during the last ten minutes or so before the referee’s whistle made the three points safe.

The Cards attacked right from the kick-off, completely dominating the first half, with Lenny Pidgeley little more than an interested spectator. In the first minute Ademola and Gilroy combined superbly, with the former laying off Chris Bush’s long throw into the former Newport County striker’s path for a crisp shot which flew only inches wide.

Chances and half-chances followed in such profusion that it was hard to keep count – with the only worry the familiar one of whether Graham Baker’s side could make the scoreline reflect their dominance. Francis Quarm, busily partnering Jerome Maledon in central midfield, fired over the bar with a long-range effort but should have done better in the 7th minute than do the same at the end of a lovely move involving Gilroy and Anane.

The Cards continued to pour forward, with Toby Little winning a surprising number of headers on the edge of the penalty box and Bush always eager to get in on the act too. The side had a solid defensive platform to build on, with Adam Doyle in commanding form, as he and Joe McNerney snuffed out the rare home forays forward, with assistance from full backs Bush and Ricketts.

Ademola failed to connect properly with one of several Gilroy nod-downs, while McNerney’s inviting pull-back from the left flank went begging. More strikes on the Saints’ goal followed as an Ademola turn and shot was blocked by the familiar figure of keeper Paul Bastock, who showed safe hands too in catching Little’s free-kick.

After a superb Doyle defensive block the Cards raced forward to create a great goalscoring opportunity on the half-hour mark. Ademola curled a fine effort, which Bastock managed to push into Anane’s path, with the experienced keeper then blocking the latter’s follow-up.

Four minutes later the breakthrough came at last. It looked as though Ricketts’ low cross from the right was too deep but Anane did brilliantly to reach it and direct his shot, from a narrow angle, just inside the near post, where it seemed that a mix of a sprawling keeper and defender may have helped it into the net.

Almost immediately afterwards Gilroy nearly made it two. His excellent volley, after he had burst through the Saints’ back line, just didn’t dip enough to creep under the bar. The impressive Bush then showed his athleticism, starting a break out of defence before receiving a return pass from Gilroy and driving the ball wide of the far post.

The one-way traffic continued as Maledon made an enterprising run into the box, spoiled only by a weak finish. Ademola was then foiled by Bastock once more, with Anane (flagged offside anyway) putting the rebound over the bar.

At the other end, Pidgeley had to catch a free-kick – the only ‘save’ he’d had to make before the half-time whistle.

Half-time: St Albans City 0 Woking 1

In the opening few minutes of the second half Woking carried on where they had left off, with Anane scampering down the wing and Ademola sweeping a left-footed effort over the bar after Gilroy’s excellent control had made space for a telling cross.

Gradually, though, the Saints began to see a bit more of the ball and were able to fashion their first genuine attacking moves of the match. Pidgeley was a little fortunate, in the 53rd minute, that a shot was struck straight at him after his punch from a free-kick had fallen short.

It was still the case, though, that most of the attacking play came from the visitors. A clever Gilroy flick allowed his strike partner to challenge in the box. Two minutes later the same pair combined as Gilroy nodded the ball into Ademola’s path but Bastock had anticipated well, rushing out to frustrate yet another Woking attack.

More signs of life from the Saints led to an excellent block from Ricketts before Effiong shot over the bar. The Cards responded with further attempts to grab the crucial second goal, with the best chance falling to Little in the 69th minute. Anane’s dinked cross to Little at the far post should have been buried but the latter’s header went down into the ground and up and over the bar.

St Albans countered with their most dangerous attack to date as Pidgeley had to dive to his left to hold a firm shot. Yet again, though, the Cards spurned a chance to make the game safe. Gilroy, uncharacteristically, ended a fine move with a weak shot, whilst Quarm’s charge through the middle produced only an intercepted pass when a shot on goal seemed called for.

More chances went begging as Maledon wasted a break out of defence in the 75th minute and couldn’t finish another attack five mintues later. Anane too seemed to lack the confidence to shoot on the edge of the area, with Bush taking charge and skimming the far post.

As the minutes ticked down, the home side launched more attacks, seeking out the head of giant defender Ben Martin, who had been thrown forward. Fortunately, none of the attacks really threatened to produce a scoreline which would have been a complete travesty of the afternoon’s proceedings.

At the other end the two substitutes Gomez Dali and Sam Hurrell combined, with the latter volleying wide of the far post. And, with the aid of a few clearing hoofs out of defence, the Cards finally made it safely through the three minutes of injury time to collect three thoroughly-deserved points.

This was a much more encouraging display than those we’ve seen of late, with the side looking better balanced and much more fluent as a result of the changes made. Everyone contributed to a fine all-round team performance, lacking only the clinical finishing that would have produced a scoreline to properly reflect the side’s superiority on the day.

Woking: Lenny Pidgeley, Mark Ricketts, Chris Bush, Jerome Maledon, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Ricky Anane (Alan Inns 89), Francis Quarm, Dave Gilroy (Gomez Dali 82), Moses Ademola, Toby Little (Sam Hurrell 73)

Unused subs: Matt Pegler, Craig Faulconbridge

Booked: Gomez Dali

My MOTM: Adam Doyle (pictured)

Attendance: [ ]
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