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Cards deserve their draw

Alan Worth - 6th November 2010

Cards deserve their draw Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Woking 0
FA Cup 1st Round
6th November 2010

Woking wrote another chapter in their illustrious cup history with a disciplined and tenacious performance against the League One leaders at the Withdean Stadium. Roared on by their magnificent travelling support, the Cards fully deserved the draw and might even have pinched a result with a little more composure in front of goal.

Graham Baker got his tactics absolutely right for what, on paper, could not have been a more difficult draw. But with five across midfield, Elvis Hammond up front and a back four that hardly put a foot wrong all afternoon the hosts struggled to make an impression despite all their possession and territorial advantage. Jerome Federico, on loan from Wycombe, made a promising debut, largely playing out wide. His confidence on the ball and pace when in possession caused some problems for the Brighton defence, particularly in the first half. And it was good to see three ex- Academy players introduced towards the end of the second period when fresh legs were required. Ola Sogbanmu and debutants, Charlie Turnbull and Josh Watkins, all played their part in achieving a famous draw.

The game started quietly apart from the Woking support and on an excellent playing surface, slick with the afternoon rain. An early Brighton corner was cleared to Federico and the young debutant immediately showed his pace as he scorched his way through the hosts’ midfield. And it was Federico again who produced the first real effort on goal after ten minutes with a twenty-five yard effort that was well over the bar.

Woking’s first corner came two minutes later. Federico again was quick down the right-hand flank, beating his man and seeing his dangerous cross deflected away. A minute later and Moses Ademola was creating problems down the opposite flank but a pass inside to Elvis Hammond might have been the better option, as his shot from distance was wide of the far post. And as Woking continued to create pressure an Aswad Thomas clearance almost picked out Hammond but Brezovan was quickly out of his area to clear from the advancing Woking front man.

Brighton now began to create a few of their own chances. A cross from the left saw Murray head over. Sparrow’s dangerous ball inside to Murray required a quick intervention from Joe McNerney before Bridcutt’s powerful long-range effort was deflected over the bar for a Brighton corner.

On 29 minutes Woking had their best chance of the half. Ademola’s pace took him clear of the Brighton midfield and, with the unmarked Hammond screaming for the ball, the wide man chose to go alone. His final touch was poor and Brezovan was able to clear the danger.

Brighton finished the half in the ascendancy. Dicker’s close-range effort after a cross from the right was just past the post. Adam Doyle was called on to make a saving tackle after Barnes was through and the Seagulls' forward had a second chance two minutes later, turning to volley wide when he might have expected to do better.

Woking had more than held their own in an even first half as they made for the dressing rooms with the game goalless.

Half-time: Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Woking 0

As might have been expected, the second period saw the hosts laying siege to the Woking goal for long periods. But thanks to the Cards’ organised and stubborn defending the League One side rarely looked like breaking the deadlock for all their passing football and possession.

Two minutes after the re-start Murray had a chance, heading over from six yards, and five minutes later he again headed over after getting onto the end of Bridcutt’s cross.

On 64 minutes Brighton were very close to grabbing the lead. With Woking struggling to clear their box and the ball rebounding off legs, substitute Hart stabbed a close-range effort inches wide of the post.

Although under the cosh, the Cards still looked to catch their hosts on the break and after good work from Sogbanmu and Ademola, Thomas crashed his shot wide of the left-hand post.

Immediately Brighton had a further good chance. This time Calderon was through on goal but his shot was straight at Little, who parried the ball away. With 75 minutes gone it was the turn of 'man of the match' McNerney (pictured) to relieve the defence and race the length of the field only for his final shot to be deflected away for a corner.

With the Seagull fans becoming increasingly restless at their side’s inability to capitalise on all their possession, Battipiedi had an opportunity on the left-hand side but his fierce shot was defected away for another corner.

Woking were hanging on but stuck magnificently to their game plan, tackling bravely and defending as a solid unit. Brighton continued to struggle to find a way through and, despite the four minutes of added time, the Cards held on for a well-deserved draw. The Woking fans, who had sung their hearts out for the full ninety minutes, greeted the final whistle rapturously. What a wonderful way to end an emotional week – a week in which we had said farewell to a Woking legend and then produced a performance that so reflected the cup exploits that the name Colin Lippiatt had been synonymous with in the past. It would be even more emotional if this Cards side could finish the job back at Kingfield.

Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Moses Ademola, Jerome Maledon, Elvis Hammond (Ola Sogbanmu 63), Francis Quarm (Charlie Turnbull 66), Jerome Federico (Josh Watkins 71)

Unused subs: Craig Faulconbridge, Alan Inns, Dave Gilroy, Matt Pegler

Brighton: Brezovan, Elphick, Barnes, Sparrow, Baz (Hart 60), Calderon, Murray (Battipiedi 53), Dicker, Painter (Smith 73), Bridcutt, Dunk

Unused subs: El-Abd, Bennett, Poke, Taricco

MOTM: Joe McNerney

Attendance: 5868
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