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Cards slip to fifth defeat

Brian Caffarey - 3rd October 2010

Cards slip to fifth defeat Woking 0 Braintree Town 1
2 October 2010

The Cards had new keeper, Andy Little (pictured), to thank for keeping the scoreline respectable in this encounter against high-flying Braintree Town. Little saved a penalty in the first half and made several other fine stops in what was otherwise a lacklustre display from the home side.

Graham Baker threw the two new boys from Brentford into his starting eleven, with on-loan Ryan Blake at left-back, confining Aswad Thomas to the bench, and work-experience Kyle Vassell on the right flank. The latter saw little of the ball in the first half and was replaced at half-time by Moses Ademola. Up front, Graham went for the partnership of Craig Faulconbridge and Andy Forbes, while Mark Ricketts and Francis Quarm filled the central midfield berths. In the absence of Ricky Anane, Joe McNerney started at right back, with Alan Inns and Adam Doyle in central defence.

Braintree gained the ascendancy right from the kick-off and always looked in control. The Cards found it hard to make any headway against a well-organised and committed Iron defence in which the huge Bailey-Dennis brushed aside the Woking forwards with apparent disdain at times. Indeed, it wasn’t until just before half-time that the Cards managed a shot on goal, when Toby Little’s free-kick soared over the Kingfield Road stand and then Faulconbridge’s snap, hooked shot went well wide.

There were early warning signs for the home side as several Braintree crosses were scrambled away, with the Iron’s corner count quickly mounting, but the Woking defence succeeded in repelling the visitors at this stage, with Adam Doyle often sweeping up. On the quarter hour mark, in the Cards’ first real attack of the game, a Forbes header led to a cross from Little, which was easily taken by the Braintree keeper.

The visitors went closer when Bryant’s cross resulted in a couple of defensive mis-kicks before the ball was somehow scrambled away. At the other end, Forbes showed again his ability in the air as he flicked on a cross but there was no one around to take advantage of this rare attack.

Braintree continued to have more of the play, with several free-kicks and corners putting pressure on the home defence, but without landing the killer blow. The latter looked to have arrived in the 37th minute, though, when, after Inns had given away a free-kick out on the Woking right, the resulting cross produced a penalty as a Braintree forward crashed to the ground. Much to the relief of the home fans, Andy Little guessed correctly and made an excellent save to his left from Jamie Guy, with a defender then just about managing to hack the ball clear.

This let-off seemed to galvanise the home side somewhat as they produced their best move of the game to date, with Toby Little making good ground down the left and putting in a dangerous cross, followed by Woking’s only two shots of the half.

Half-time: Woking 0 Braintree Town 0

It was no great surprise to see two Woking substitutes standing on the touchline as the teams prepared for the second half. In addition to Ademola replacing Vassell, Jerome Maledon emerged to take over from Toby Little – no doubt with the aim of strengthening a central midfield which had often looked as though it was struggling in the first half.

The Cards nearly found themselves a goal down in the first minute of the second phase as Bryant burst through several weak challenges to create a one-on-one chance with the Woking keeper but he met his match in Andy Little, who spread himself superbly to foil the Braintree forward.

Having benefited from another fortunate escape, the Cards briefly came to life as Maledon’s prompting produced a bit of real pressure but, ironically, it served as their undoing. A very quick break out of defence saw Guy get the wrong side of Blake and neither the keeper’s nor defender’s lunges could prevent a clinical finish inside the near post.

Ademola, certainly seeing more of the ball than Vassell had done in the first half, looked as though his quick feet might produce an opening or two but, when he did get clear a few minutes later, his cross was disappointingly behind the goal.

Braintree meanwhile looked perfectly capable of adding to a scoreline which, they probably felt, didn’t adequately reflect their dominance. Inns had to head off the line from a flicked header from a corner and, as Woking were forced to push forward more, there always seemed to be the threat of a quick break.

In the 63rd minute, though, it was the home side who broke forward quickly, with Ademola’s cross being expertly nodded down by Forbes to Faulconbridge. Unfortunately, the big Woking striker was unable to connect properly and the ball spun away harmlessly.

More sustained Braintree pressure followed, including a very slick move in which Raison shot narrowly wide, before Woking fashioned another attack. Blake’s cross was worked out to Ricketts on the left of the Braintree box, with the midfielder’s shot being deflected for a corner.

Little was called to make a fine save again after another quick Braintree attack before Graham Baker made his final throw of the dice, bringing on Dave Gilroy for Forbes in the 75th minute. Ademola and Gilroy combined well in a clever move but the latter could not get a shot away. Blake tried to wriggle down the byeline but was ‘muscled’ out and McNerney made an enterprising run from the back but, even with Inns thrown forward frequently, it was hard to see where a goal would come from against a very solid Braintree defence.

The added five minutes of injury time just brought more woe for the home side as Doyle picked up a second booking – which looked harsh, especially at that stage of the game and which presumably led to Graham Baker’s remonstrations with the referee at the end of the game and no doubt contributed too to the post-match yellow card for Faulconbridge. But it was all to no avail since Braintree, with the aid of the usual time-wasting substitutions, had comfortably held onto their 1-0 lead to complete another miserable afternoon for the Cards.

Following this, fifth, defeat of the season, Woking find themselves in 12th place in the table after ten games, seven points adrift of the play-off places: a target which is beginning to look decidedly ambitious unless the management team can fashion a marked improvement on recent displays.

Woking: Andy Little, Joe McNerney, Ryan Blake, Mark Ricketts, Alan Inns, Adam Doyle, Kyle Vassell (Moses Ademola, 46), Francis Quarm, Craig Faulconbridge, Andy Forbes (Dave Gilroy, 75), Toby Little (Jerome Maledon, 46)

Unused subs: Sam Hurrell, Aswad Thomas

Booked: Francis Quarm, Craig Faulconbridge

Sent off: Adam Doyle (two bookings)

MOTM: Andy Little

Attendance: 1056
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