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Five star Woking!

Glen Harrington - 20th July 2011

Five star Woking! Woking 5 Reading XI 1
Pre-Season Friendly
19th July 2011


A brace from Giuseppe Sole alongside goals scored by Jack King, Alan Inns and substitute Dale Binns handed the Cards a comprehensive victory over a more than respectable Reading development side.

The result was true testament to the fine squad that is being put together by the Woking management as, despite several high-profile names, the Royals were unable to cope with the Cards' fine passing, movement and organisation. Indeed, Reading development coach Chris Cummins highly praised the Kingfield outfit after the game, describing how “it was a case of us looking to manage the game and learning against a strong, quick, physical and gifted team.”

Team-wise, Garry Hill elected for only three changes from the side that lost out to Arsenal on Friday night. Aaron Howe was given his chance in goal in place of Andy Little, triallist Michael Noone was handed a start at left-back – Nathan Koranteng (pictured) instead taking up a more orthodox left-wing position while Dale Binns dropped to the bench – and Ola Sogbanmu was rewarded for his fine efforts from the bench against the Gunners, with a striking spot alongside Hammond, skipper Mark Ricketts left out to accommodate a 4-4-2 formation – Adam Newton taking the armband.

As on Friday, it was the Cards who started the stronger, with Sogbanmu, King and McNerney all narrowly heading wide while Alan Inns forced a decent save from Royals' stopper Simon Locke. However, in almost identical fashion to that Arsenal game, a sloppy mistake from the hosts allowed their opposition in for the opening goal. It was Newton, up to that point extremely impressive as stand-in captain, who became the villain, his under-hit back-pass selling Howe short and allowing the Royals forward to apply a simple finish.

Things could have become worse for the hosts moments later as Jacob Walcott danced his way through the Woking defence, but this was only for him to be denied by a brilliant last-ditch sliding tackle from Newton, more than making up for his earlier error.

Just past the half-hour mark and Woking were deservedly level through the cheekiest of free-kicks. Having sent his first set-piece just over, keeper and defenders alike were expecting Giuseppe Sole, once again skulking ominously around the ball, to try and go one better. They were therefore caught horribly by surprise as, with Locke still trying to arrange his wall, Jack King took the shot quickly into the vacant opposite side of the goal, finding the bottom corner.

The Royals could well have been back in front less than sixty seconds later, as Walcott curled an ambitious shot from the edge of the area. Thankfully for the Cards, Howe was equal to it, acrobatically palming the effort away and proving just how competitive the goalkeeping position is going to be this season – the talented and highly thought-of Matt Pegler also waiting in the wings for his first pre-season appearance.

Stunningly, it was then the Cards who first took the lead, and then doubled their advantage, making it three goals in eight minutes. First, good work from Elvis Hammond down the right allowed him to offer Sole the chance to run at the defence. Beating his man, Sole pulled the ball back in delightful fashion for Sogbanmu, who could sadly only manage to direct his shot back into the turf and up into the air. Nonetheless, Sole had continued his run, and arrived at the right place at the right time to flick a header up and over Locke.

Almost straight from the kick-off, once again the impressive Koranteng set off on his umpteenth bursting run down the left. His cross caused havoc in the Royals' defence as they failed to clear, allowing the ball to instead trickle all the way across goal where it was met by the sliding Hammond. His effort seemed destined for the net, only for a combination of Reading defender and Sogbanmu to deflect the ball back off the line. It was to no avail, Alan Inns following up and blasting high into the roof of the net.

Half-time: Woking 3 Reading XI 1

After the break and it was the home side continuing their impressive form, both Koranteng and Jay Davies coming close from distance. All the while, the Cards continued to look especially enterprising in midfield, Koranteng and Sole causing endless trouble for the opposition full-backs while feeding well off the understated work of King and Davies.

Even when the inevitable substitutions came, the Cards did not allow the flow and rhythm of their game to be distracted, continuing to dominate possession and the pace of the game. A fourth goal seemed sure to come, and duly did with fifteen minutes remaining. Michael Noone, who had begun the game looking an extremely nervous triallist, was rewarded for the growing confidence and competence he had shown in the second half, his excellent cross-field ball into the area deservedly drawing the plaudits as it allowed Sole to tap home his second.

Sole might have grabbed his hat-trick soon after, an impressive run from Binns, only recently brought into the game in place of Koranteng, climaxing in a neat lay-off for Gez, who could only fire over.

Binns instead put away number five himself. Ollie Palmer started the move, doing well to hold off the challenge of several Reading defenders and emerge with the ball. Nicking possession from his teammates' toes, Binns showed yet more exquisite control with the ball at his feet, escaping the last man and coolly finishing into the bottom corner.

An extremely impressive performance from the Cards, building on Friday’s good work against Arsenal where, despite the score, there were still numerous encouraging signs. In fact, it’s hard to find fault (other than the mistake for the Reading goal) with any of the 20 players utilised by Garry Hill against the Royals, no doubt leaving him with more than a few selection headaches. Still to be fitted into the side are Adam Doyle, who may find it hard to break up the imposing centre-half pairing of Joe McNerney and Alan Inns, new striker Wayne Gray, who as well as Hammond has impressive youngsters Palmer and Sogbanmu for competition in the striking department, while triallist Rob Wolleaston (who impressed against Arsenal) may feature again in pre-season.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton (Matt Powell* 82), Michael Noone* (Anson Cousins 82), Jack King (Mark Ricketts 74), Joe McNerney (Demetrius Lawrence* 69), Alan Inns, Giuseppe Sole (George Frith 82), Jay Davies (Aristotle Di Carvalho* 69), Ola Sogbanmu (Josh Griffiths 59), Elvis Hammond (Ollie Palmer 59), Nathan Koranteng (Dale Binns 69).

Unused Subs: Matt Pegler

*Triallists

Goals: King 32, Sole 38, Inns 40, Sole 75, Binns 84.

Reading XI: Locke, Arnold, Trialist, Gage, MacDonald, Partridge, Walcott, Edwards, Trialist, D’Ath, Losasso

Substitutes: Raymond, Edwards, Goddard, Murphy, Ugwu, Saintangelo plus two further triallists


MOTM: Nathan Koranteng – Looks twice the player of last season, already showing just why Garry Hill wished to sign him permanently following last year’s loan spell. Made the third goal and was unlucky not to grab a couple for himself. Will give stiff competition to Dale Binns in vying for that left midfield role.

Attendance: 492
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