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Nervy Cards collect the points

Brian Caffarey - 7th April 2011

Nervy Cards collect the points Woking 2 Dorchester Town 1
5 April 2011

The Cards got the three points they desperately needed in their play-off campaign, lifting them to 5th place, but it was a close-run thing, with the visitors spurning several good chances to equalise in the second half against an uncharacteristically shaky Woking defence. Some of the more memorable elements of the evening were provided by the referee and his assistants with some bizarre and pernickety decision-making.

Missing Michael Doughty, on Wales U19 duty, from Saturday’s line-up against Welling United, Garry Hill brought in James Walker in an attacking formation which also figured Lyle Taylor (pictured) and Craig Dobson on the right and left flanks respectively. However, the midfield seemed to labour in the absence of the creativity of Kieran Murtagh and the mobility of Jay Davies.

The Cards started reasonably brightly, with Dobson making several enterprising runs down the right, and Hammond executing a clever turn and run in from the right. Both sides had free-kicks which were comfortably fielded by the respective keepers or fired wide. Around the quarter-hour mark the Cards gained three successive corners, one of which drew a vociferous appeal for handball, but attention soon turned again to the referee, issuing the first of his four yellow cards to Aswad Thomas.

Woking’s most fluent move of the half came in the 25th minute as Ricky Anane and Hammond combined to play in Taylor on the left of the area, but, as with his other efforts on the night, his shot flashed narrowly wide. Five minutes later some excellent inter-passing ended with a fine volley from Andy Burgess, which the Dorchester keeper saved. The Woking pressure continued as Aswad Thomas put in a teasing cross, which nearly resulted in a horrible mix-up between the keeper and a defender.

In the 41st minute the Cards got the goal their overall pressure had merited, with Adam Doyle peeling off the back of the line to head Andy Burgess’s free-kick emphatically into the far corner.

In injury time the lead was almost extended as Hammond’s reaction shot, after Mark Ricketts had blasted the ball into the area, was held by the keeper.

Half-time: Woking 1 Dorchester Town 0

The Cards started the second half poorly, conceding an early equaliser, and this seemed to set the tone for a generally listless, nervous and unconvincing 45 minutes in which the ball spent a good deal of time in the Woking half.

The equaliser came in the 49th minute when Doyle was robbed as he tried to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick. Mark Ricketts (I think it was) averted the immediate danger with a decisive tackle but then another defender lunged in unnecessarily and a penalty was given, which Devlin converted.

The Cards then had a very lucky break. A Dorchester defender, trying to clear a Dobson corner, hammered the ball against Taylor and it ricocheted beyond the keeper and into the net to make it 2-1 to Woking.

Subsequently the main points of interest for Woking fans came from the continuing officiating comedy of errors as the linesman dropped his flag twice and the referee had a running argument with the Dorchester keeper, who persisted, for reasons best known to himself, in trying to pinch a couple of inches at each goal-kick. The keeper was warmly, if ironically, applauded by Woking fans when, eventually, he realised that it might be better to start by keeping it within the ‘D’ – but rather spoiled it by falling over after he’d kicked the ball!

Briefly, Woking looked as though they might make the game safe as they pressed for a third goal. Dobson’s cross-cum-shot had the keeper scampering to cover his far post and Taylor had another couple of well-struck efforts but both were wide. Another exciting Dobson run enabled Hammond to play in Walker but he was blocked for a corner.

But the tide soon turned in the visitors’ favour as they seemed to find in increasingly easy to create openings. ‘Pinball’ in the Woking box led to a shot going wide and then a ball over Doyle forced Little into a fine save, followed by a bad miss as a header was off target. Another bizarre refereeing decision almost produced the equaliser as Little was flattened as he gathered a long ball, but, fortunately, the ensuing shot was over the bar.

Woking responded with a couple of attacks, Taylor firing wide, and Dobson over-running the ball after combining well with Hammond from a break out of defence. But the best chance, with about five minutes to go, fell to substitute Nathan Koranteng, who was unable to finish in a one-on-one with the keeper.

However, in the closing stages it was more a matter of hanging on anxiously as the visitors spurned another great chance. A Woking attack broke down. The ball was played swiftly over Doyle and into an attacker’s path. He put it over Little but wide. Cards fans breathed again.

So, the Cards got the win they needed but they will certainly have to play better than they did in the second half if they are to gain that much-coveted play-off place.

Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Craig Dobson, Andy Burgess, James Walker (Ollie Palmer 78), Elvis Hammond (Moses Ademola 90), Lyle Taylor (Nathan Koranteng 82)

Subs not used: James Pullen, Reiss Noel

Booked: Aswad Thomas

Sponsor’s MOTM: Adam Doyle

Attendance: 1028
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