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Defensive errors prove costly

Brian Caffarey - 9th April 2011

Defensive errors prove costly Dartford 3 Woking 2
9 April 2011

A disastrous five-minute spell of defending just before half-time put paid to Woking’s chances this afternoon at Dartford’s impressive ground. Having taken a 1-0 lead through an Andy Burgess free-kick – though not before both sides had missed a penalty – the Woking defence then proceeded to collapse, leaving the side staring at a 3-1 deficit at the break. Things threatened to get worse in the second half after Adam Doyle had collected his second booking but ten-man Woking then pulled a goal back and made something of a fight of it before the referee finally blew for time. The defeat leaves Woking in 8th place, two points adrift of the play-off places.

The only change from Tuesday night’s starting line-up was Reiss Noel’s replacement of Ricky Anane, who was ill. With the backing of an excellent turn-out from Woking fans, the Cards dominated early play and there seemed every prospect of the likes of Craig Dobson experiencing joy against what looked a somewhat ponderous Dartford defence. The Darts’ keeper, Andrew Young, made a hash in the third minute of a free-kick, which resulted in a second corner for the Cards. Dobson swung it in beyond the back post, where Joe McNerney’s header struck a defender’s hand. Penalty!

Craig Dobson looked as though he wanted to take it but Elvis Hammond, who’d missed his last effort from the spot, lined the ball up. He didn’t look convincing and pulled the ball harmlessly wide.

The Cards continued to look as though they’d every chance of putting Dartford to the sword as Walker just failed to control a through ball and Aswad Thomas fired a decent effort from distance over the bar. In the 12th minute, as if to atone for his penalty miss, Elvis even flicked on a header. But it was Craig Dobson who looked most likely to unhinge the Darts’ defence as he made several penetrating runs, seeming to have the beating every time of his marker. A lovely move in the 16th minute saw Dobson fire wide.

A couple of minutes later Dartford managed their first fluent move of the game and shortly afterwards, Noble, who was to prove a thorn in Woking’s side out on the right as the game progressed, nearly made it through but for a superb saving tackle from Doyle.

Dartford gradually came more into the game, with Hallam looping a header wide and Sheringham missing a good opportunity, but they found themselves 1-0 down in the 29th minute when Andy Burgess’s free-kick from out wide right curled in and looped over the keeper. Only he will know whether it was intended to be a cross rather than a goal attempt – it rather looked like it, but it gave the Cards a deserved lead on the balance of play.

Sheringham responded by flashing a header just wide, whilst Burgess’s snap shot sent Young sprawling to his right to push the ball away for another Woking corner, from which Doyle nearly profited. Then Lyle Taylor cut in from the left with an ambitious effort, which went wide.

In the 38th minute the Darts won their first corner and promptly equalised from it, Bradbrook rising above the Woking defence to power the ball home.

Two minutes later it was 2-1 to the home side. Sheringham came off best in a challenge with McNerney in the box, steadied himself and calmly placed the ball beyond Andy Little.

If that wasn’t bad enough, only two more minutes elapsed before it was 3-1. This time it seemed to be Doyle at fault as he missed his tackle. The ball was flicked on into Pallen’s path and he finished with a fine left-footed strike.

The Cards had a chance to reduce the deficit just before the break but Mark Ricketts couldn’t get a touch on a near-post cross. More corners followed as Woking desperately tried to get back into the game but to no avail.

Half-time: Dartford 3 Woking 1

Michael Doughty replaced Burgess at half-time, the latter having had treatment following a tackle at one point in the first half. Doughty immediately looked more at home in central midfield than he had out left against Welling, looking to spread passes out wide but also, in the 48th minute, getting on the end of a Hammond flick into the box. The Cards exerted some pressure and James Walker went very close with a lovely curling effort after being played in by Hammond and Thomas on the edge of the box.

But Dartford picked up the pace again and began to expose McNerney and Doyle, the latter following up a great block with a foul in the 57th minute which earned him his first yellow card.

Intermittently, the Cards still looked as though they could get back into the game. A fine move saw the ball just nicked off Hammond’s foot in the box and Doyle nearly converted a corner, his header going just too high.

Moses Ademola came on for Taylor in the 62nd minute but shortly afterwards Doyle got his marching orders after he’d blocked the tricky Noble. Garry Hill then threw on Ollie Palmer for Walker.

With Doyle absent, Sheringham began to find acres of space in the Woking defence and, with Woking trying to press forward with only ten men, it looked more likely that Dartford would extend their lead. After several Woking attacking moves had broken down Sheringham headed wide in the 77th minute but Rogers should have sewn the game up when he somehow contrived to slice the ball wide after Noble had fed him the easiest of chances. Sheringham went close again while, at the other end, Palmer did well to force his way through but couldn’t get enough purchase on his shot to really trouble Young.

But away hopes were raised in the 82nd minute when Woking were awarded a penalty after Ricketts had been obstructed as he sought to head a corner. This time it was Dobson’s turn and he showed how it should be done, crashing the ball home high into the net to make it 3-2 to the Darts.

Leading up to full-time, the best chance fell to Doughty after Noel had found him on the edge of the box but his shot was weak. A firmer effort from Bradbrook skimmed over the Woking bar.

Into five minutes of injury time the Cards desperately sought to grab an equaliser as Palmer was tackled in the box and Dobson tried to make space for a shot. Ademola tried to tee up a shot for Doughty on the edge of the box but the QPR youngster was too hesitant and the chance was gone.

This was a very frustrating afternoon for Cards fans. In the first 20 minutes or so this looked like a game which Woking could win against a Dartford defence which gave them plenty of space. But the missed penalty forfeited an early chance to get well on top and when they did benefit themselves from a missed penalty and a possibly fortunate goal, they then threw the game away with some awful defending. So, they’ve now given themselves an even bigger mountain to climb, almost certainly needing to win at least one of their away games at Ebbsfleet or Farnborough as well as their two remaining home games to be in with a chance.

Woking: Andy Little, Reiss Noel, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Craig Dobson, Andy Burgess (Michael Doughty 46), James Walker (Ollie Palmer 69), Elvis Hammond, Lyle Taylor (Moses Ademola 62)

Subs not used: Nathan Koranteng, James Pullen

Sent off: Adam Doyle (two bookings)

Booked: Lyle Taylor, Reiss Noel, Aswad Thomas

My MOTM: Craig Dobson (pictured)

Attendance: 1206
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