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Brian Caffarey - 30th July 2008


30 July 2008

This game seemed to mark the end ? with one notable exception ? of
experimentation and the beginning of a concerted run-in to the opening match
against Altrincham a week on Saturday. There was much more shape and cohesion
to the Woking side and, overall, it was an encouraging performance against a
committed Oxford City side.

On a
balmy summer?s evening, in an attractive setting, the Cards welcomed back Tom
Hutchinson, Matt Pattison and Gez Sole from injury, which helped to provide a
more familiar look to the side. The one bit of experimentation ? pretty
successful ? was a starting place for trialist Paolo Vernazza. We last saw
Paolo playing for Weymouth when he scored an excellent free-kick at Kingfield,
with Jefferson Louis also on the scoresheet. His role at Oxford was to sit in
front of the back four, but in a ?playmaking? role rather than in the defensive
role performed by Bradley Quamina. He always looked comfortable on the ball and
provided a useful outlet for his colleagues. Whether, with Gez and Matt in
front of him in central midfield, there would be enough defensive cover at BSP
level is something Kim will need to ponder.

With Delano Sam-Yorke on one flank and Joel Ledgister (pictured) on the other,
the Cards tried to get the ball out to their wide men. Joel found himself in
one or two good positions, once from a fine cross-field ball from Matt
Pattison, but his final ball was inconsistent. The Cards took the lead in the
28th minute when an excellent move down the left wing, started by Danny Bunce
and Manny Williams, saw Delano Sam-Yorke slip the ball inside to Joel, in
plenty of space in the middle. His first shot was blocked by a defender but his
second was high inside the near post.

A minute
later, however, City equalised. The ball fell in front of a rather static
Woking central defence. Liam Malone, a feisty presence in City?s midfield,
lashed the ball past Ross Worner.

The Cards? lead was nearly restored a few minutes later when Gez slipped a pass
through to Manny Williams. He attempted to round the keeper but was just
foiled. Delano too went close before Gez?s instinctive header, as the ball was
fired into the box, went over the bar.

Half-time: Oxford City 1 Woking 1

The Cards
stepped up the pressure after half-time, assisted perhaps by a couple of Oxford
substitutions and the arrival, ten minutes into the half, of Liam Marum, whose
pace helped to create more openings.

Vernazza, on a rare foray forward, showed his class as he took the ball down on
the edge of the box, side-stepped a tackle and slid a ball through to Manny,
but the latter had strayed offside.

Gez hit a trademark free-kick, which the keeper tipped over the bar, but the
Cards? defence was at sea when a City free-kick led to a free header at the far
post, which, fortunately, was directed down and over.

With Goma now on for Delano on the left flank, Woking got a second goal in the
66th minute. Gez slid a ball through to Manny Williams, who finished decisively,
high to the keeper?s left.

third came in the 81st minute from the unlikely source of Goma?s head. Manny
Williams threw over a deep cross from the right, which Goma, lurking at the far
post, directed back into the top far corner of the City goal.

A flicked effort from Tom Hutchinson, venturing forward, was the final piece of
action before the referee called a halt to a pleasant evening.

This was
a generally encouraging performance by the Cards. The downsides were a tendency
to give the ball away a little too easily and some erratic crossing, but the
introduction of Vernazza certainly brought something different to the Cards?
side, helping to ensure better retention of the ball from the back and useful
prompting from midfield.

Woking: Ross Worner, Patrice Mondon-Konan
(Matt Gray, 80), Paul Lorraine (Matt Ruby, 74), Tom Hutchinson, Danny Bunce,
Paolo Vernazza, Giuseppe Sole, Matt Pattison
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