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Cards have it all to do

Brian Caffarey - 4th May 2011

Cards have it all to do Woking 0 Farnborough 1
BSS Play-Off Semi-Final, 1st Leg
4 May 2011

Garry Hillís side have it all to do on Sunday in the second leg after a second-half strike from Gary Holloway earned Farnborough a 1-0 win at Kingfield. It could have been worse for the Cards for, near the end, Paul Booth scooped the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy. Woking may feel that they deserved a draw on the balance of play but they could not turn several half-chances into a goal.

Mark Ricketts was declared fit, so the Cards lined up with the same side as at Ebbsfleet, with Michael Doughty on the bench in place of James Walker. On a clear evening the game started ten minutes late as the last of a crowd of over 2,700 made their way into the ground.

In a fairly quiet opening the Cards had marginally more of the attacking play, with Lyle Taylor getting in a deflected shot after a clever Elvis Hammond flick had created an opening. This was followed by a lovely sweeping move out of defence involving Moses Ademola (pictured) Ė perhaps the Cardsí greatest threat on the night with his quick footwork Ė Taylor and Hammond. From one of several free-kicks conceded by the Cards McMahon tried to catch Andy Little out by going for the near post but the ball was a yard or two off target. The visitors went even closer to taking an early lead after Ibe turned sharply in the box and chipped the ball over to Malcolm. Fortunately, Little was able to make ground quickly and grab the strikerís header.

Hammondís quick turn in the 14th minute nearly enabled him to break clear of the Farnborough defence but he was just thwarted, with the ball deflecting to the visitorsí keeper, Jordan. As in the recent league game, Jordan did not look confident dealing with balls in the air and he was perhaps lucky not to get punished a few minutes later when he fumbled an Andy Burgess free-kick, with both Hammond and Ademola attempting to fire home as the loose ball bobbled around the box. From the resulting corner Adam Doyle headed just wide.

From about the 20th minute onwards the game seemed to take on the flavour of a stalemate, already giving rise to thoughts that only one goal might settle it. Woking continued to try to slip balls through to the elusive Hammond but too many balls from the back were in the air and were easily gobbled up by a physical Farnborough defence. Farnborough, for their part, seemed content to play it tight, knowing that the onus was on Woking to attack, while looking to profit from a breakaway.

Hammond came very close to slipping free when he chased a through ball from Ademola. Jordan did well to tackle him with his feet rather than to risk bringing him down. The Cards kept up the pressure as Ademolaís skilful footwork enabled him to open up the space for a cross and then Jordan, once again, lost the ball in the air, fumbling Craig Dobsonís free-kick but, not for the last time on the night, Woking couldnít force the ball home.

Half-time: Woking 0 Farnborough 0

It was the Cards who made the running immediately after the break, with pressure round the box drawing a foul on Hammond. Jordan missed his punch from Burgessís free-kick, with Ademolaís ball skills again enabling him to create a half-chance. A Hammond volley in the 55th minute was not far off target and the Cards continued to apply pressure round the box.

They were nearly caught out, however, by a breakaway as Little had to race far off his line to half-clear the ball, with the follow-up effort hit wide as Wokingís defence re-grouped.

In the 61st minute Garry Hill brought on Michael Doughty for Lyle Taylor, with Woking continuing to have more of the attacking play. A deflection to Hammond led to head tennis in the Farnborough area as Hammond tried to play in Aswad Thomas.

Once again, the game seemed to become something of a stalemate until, in the 71st minute, the visitors took an unexpected lead. In a comparatively rare attack Little tried to punch clear but only succeeded in sending the ball out to the feet of Holloway, who smacked it straight back under the bar.

The Cards pressed forward, inevitably leaving themselves more exposed at the back. Ademola did superbly to pick up a long pass and tear into the area. Jordan came out and seemed to have blocked Ademolaís path to goal but the Woking forward managed to create space, chipping the ball just wide of the far post.

The visitors now looked as though they might kill the tie off with a second goal. The Cards battled to clear two successive corners, followed by a cross which went right across the face of Littleís goal and then a free-kick which was whipped in dangerously.

In an exciting finale to a game which hadnít hitherto really come to life, the Cards then gained successive corners, with Ollie Palmer, on in place of Ademola, using his height to advantage. Crosses were fired in in a desperate attempt to force an equaliser Ė and it looked as though that was bound to come in the 90th minute when Palmer and Hammond were so close to forcing home a Doughty cross but somehow the ball was cleared.

But Woking fansí despair turned to relief a minute later as, at the other end, Booth somehow contrived to scoop the ball over the Woking bar from a couple of yards out.

There was just time for one final effort from the Cards. A foul on Palmer right on the edge of the box produced a free-kick. It was in a central position, though, and the defensive wall looked somewhat short of ten yards, so the odds were always against Burgess producing a last-gasp equaliser.

So, the Cards have got a very difficult task in front of them in the second leg on Sunday but they know that they have beaten Farnborough at the Cherrywood only a couple of weeks ago. And, in truth, there was very little between the two sides in this first leg, with Farnborough perhaps looking a bit more fluent and cohesive but with Woking looking threatening through Hammond and Ademola in particular.

Woking: Andy Little, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Craig Dobson, Lyle Taylor (Michael Doughty 61), Moses Ademola (Ollie Palmer 86), Elvis Hammond, Andy Burgess

Unused subs: Alan Inns, Nathan Koranteng, James Pullen

Farnborough: Jordan, Conroy (Stevens 56), Braham-Barrett, King, Robinson, J.Smith, McMahon, Holloway (Davies 82), Ibe (Booth 62), Bubb, Malcolm

Unused sub: Robinson

Sponsorís MOTM: Andy Burgess

Attendance: 2726
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