Glen Harrington - 26th December 2010
Blue Square Bet South
26th December 2010
On a chilly Boxing Day tussle at Kingfield, goals from Ricky Anane, Joe Keehan and substitute Moses Ademola provided the Cards with a hard-fought but well-deserved win over Havant & Waterlooville.
With Woking beginning a five-week run of eight league games and an FA Trophy tie, it was unsurprising to see manager Graham Baker experiment with a new formation. On top of this a couple of fringe players, who will need to play their fair share in the next month, also got their chance.
The Cards' 3-5-2 formation first saw a debut handed to Reiss Noel alongside regulars Adam Doyle (pictured) and Joe McNerney at centre half. The three-man back line allowed Anane and Hurrell to act as the attacking and overlapping wing-backs, linking up with the midfield trio of Joe Keehan, making his first league start, Lee Sawyer and skipper Mark Ricketts. Dave Gilroy was given the nod over Craig Faulconbridge to partner Elvis Hammond up front.
In opposition, Havant’s starting eleven contained a blast from the past. Despite the absence of Ian Simpemba and Ian Selley, the Hawks' side still contained three former Cards players: Aaron Howe in goal, Captain Manny Williams and, perhaps most notably, Giuseppe Sole, a free transfer from Newport County two weeks previously.
With neither side having been in league action since November, both teams started slowly, perhaps in disbelief that there was a game actually going ahead but, a quarter of an hour in, Woking hit their stride – Lee Sawyer’s curling free-kick picking out the on-rushing Dave Gilroy, who saw his point-blank header somehow turned round the post by Howe.
As their lines were cleared Havant might have thought they had got away with it. They were wrong. Moments later a long ball up from the back for the Cards found the feet of Elvis Hammond who, 40 yards out and with his back to goal, produced a wonderful piece of skill to first hold, then turn, then spray a faultless release out to the charging Ricky Anane. The lightning quick full-back took one touch past his marker before the ball sat up perfectly in front of him. Anane struck it viciously and, despite the distance, left the Hawks' keeper with absolutely no chance. A contender for goal of the season?
Despite the Cards taking the lead it could have been so much better for the hosts as an array of fine chances to double the advantage came and went. First, more good interplay between Hammond and Anane allowed the ball to be pulled back across the goal only just behind Keehan, before Hurrell’s cross did find Keehan, who could only head over from six yards.
Seconds later and Hammond, in the thick of everything, went down under pressure in the area. With no penalty given and swarms of yellow shirts around him, Elvis battled on from the floor, somehow emerging upright and with the ball at his feet, unselfishly allowing Hurrell to take the shot on. Sam could only find the goalkeeper’s midriff and, when he got a second chance, the back of the stand.
Almost inevitably, the game took an ironic twist. Incomprehensibly, against the run of play, the Hawks were awarded a free-kick, the so far inconspicuous Sole looking to provide his new team with some of the magic Woking fans will so fondly remember. As Gez began his run-up, bulky striker Mustafa Tiryaki waited to implement what could only be a training ground routine. Sole halted, mid-movement, allowing Tiryaki to strike instead and, like a rocket, send the ball swerving away into the top right-hand corner from 30 yards.
If the crowd were stunned by the Hawks' bullet, it was nothing to the bizarre nature of the third goal, which came less than two minutes later. As Havant attempted to get themselves out of danger Sole ignored the option to pass down the line, instead attempting to go back across his own box. His clearance struck a bemused referee, Colin Lymer, on the back, deflecting up in the air and eventually allowing a gleeful Joe Keehan to volley in for the Cards at the back post. Having worked so hard to gain a foothold in the game, the visitors simply could not believe what had just happened.
Half-time: Woking 2 Havant & Waterlooville 1
The second half started in a more sedate manner, as the Cards looked this time to successfully protect what they’d won. The chances there were, however, still fell to the home side.
Seven minutes in and Ricky Anane, a consistent danger all afternoon, again found space down the right to cut inside, yet again using his superior pace to good effect – his driven shot/cross only narrowly eluding Hammond in the centre. Soon afterwards and it was Elvis who again showed off a fine piece of individual talent, turning his man easily to coast clear on the left before shooting straight across goal.
Just past the hour mark and the Cards came even closer to the goal that would finally kill off the South Coast side. Joe Keehan, unable to find an available teammate, ghosted past a defender and burst into space himself, smashing a dipping shot against the woodwork. It was to be left shaking for several seconds.
Despite a free header for defender Sam Pearce, which should have levelled the game, Woking kept control and kept creating right till the end. Moses Ademola, on in place of Hammond, was already looking dangerous on the counter. Three minutes from time, Moses picked up possession in the area, side-stepped his marker, and knocked the ball neatly past Howe. Half-turned away in celebration, the goal-shy striker watched in despair as his attempt was somehow kept out by Paul Hinshelwood, who managed to scrape the effort off the line and clear.
But Ademola couldn’t be denied from rounding off a good afternoon. Finding himself in mountains of space in the middle of the park, and seeing Howe well off his goal-line, he implemented a fine chip which dropped, just in time, into the back of the net. Although the Cards still had time to squander a 4-on-1 break-away opportunity, Moses had at long last put the game to bed.
In the end a much-needed three points for the Cards who, with a seemingly balanced and well-organised squad at long last, will look to push on with their play-off ambitions. Although it is currently hard to tell who is in pole position, with some teams holding up to five games in hand over their rivals, the busy Christmas period is sure to decide who may maintain their aspirations and who must begin to deal with a season of disappointment.
Woking: Andrew Little, Ricky Anane, Reiss Noel, Mark Ricketts (Jerome Maledon 90), Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Joe Keehan, Lee Sawyer (Aswad Thomas 84), Elvis Hammond (Moses Ademola 74), Dave Gilroy, Sam Hurrell.
Unused Subs: Alan Inns, Craig Faulconbridge.
Goals: Anane 18, Keehan 31, Ademola 90.
Havant and Waterlooville: Aaron Howe, Jake Newton (Steven Ramsey 36), Leon Cashman, Paul Hinshelwood, Sam Pearce, Ryan Woodford, Wes Fogden, Bobby Hopkinson, Manny Williams, Mustafa Tiryaki (Liam Sewell 79), Giuseppe Sole.
Unused Subs: Sammy Igoe, Alex Baldacchino, Nathan Ashmore.
Goals: Tiryaki 29.
Bookings: Ramsey 51.
MOTM: Adam Doyle – Solid and dependable as ever at the back, passed his confidence onto the young debutant Noel and never looked like being beaten.