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Cards fall to battling defeat

Glen Harrington - 4th August 2011

Cards fall to battling defeat Woking 3 QPR XI 4
Pre-Season Friendly
3 August 2011

The Cards disappointingly emerged with nothing to show from a more than decent display against a strong QPR XI, a team that included the likes of Radek Cerny, Gary Borrowdale, Martin Rowlands and Leon Clarke.

A Derek Duncan free-kick and a close-range blast from Giuseppe Sole had ensured that the home side led at the break, but the Hoops emerged a different opposition after the interval and, despite a Joe McNerney header that briefly drew the game level, it was the visitors who narrowly came out on top.

There were few surprises in the Woking line-up as Garry Hill and Steve Thomson edged closer to a likely starting XI for the opening league encounter away at Sutton in just over a week’s time. However, the likes of Alan Inns and Nathan Koranteng, who were given little or no time to impress at Kingstonian, were handed their chance in place of Joe McNerney and Dale Binns. Giuseppe Sole and Aaron Howe also returned to starting roles, with Jay Davies only on the bench and Andy Little rested.

In an extremely even and pleasingly competitive set of opening encounters, both sides attacked with fluent freedom while each looked shaky at the back – Aaron Howe forced into one excellent diving save away to his left while Elvis Hammond slipped at the vital moment when played in for the Cards’ first major opportunity.

It was the hosts who did open the scoring fifteen minutes in when, with Sole and King both looking equally ready to strike, Derek Duncan (on his home debut) curled a delicate left-footed free-kick into the top right-hand corner – Cerny, stranded, in the centre of his goal.

The delight around Kingfield could, and perhaps should have been, doubled mere moments later as Jack King crashed a point-blank header against the bar from Sole’s corner. This was not the end of the drama as the Cards soon found the woodwork again, Koranteng’s ambitious cross-cum-shot needing a touch over from Cerny, who could only deflect the ball onto the top of his crossbar.

Despite now being well on top, the Cards, as seen in both the Reading and Arsenal games, pressed the self-destruct button, Adam Doyle’s attempted headed back-pass falling short of Howe and allowing Clarke, a man with 42 goals at Premiership and Football League level to his name, to comfortably steal in and take advantage.

Frustrated with their mistake, the Cards almost instantly hit-back with a lovely passing move, started by Adam Newton in his own area, and culminating in Koranteng’s low cross into the area. The ball trickled agonisingly across the box until it found the unmarked Sole at the back-post. Able to take his time and steady himself, Gez made no mistake, blasting high into the roof of the net.

Half-time: Woking 2 QPR XI 1

Having reportedly been on the end of some harsh words at the interval, the R’s came out all guns blazing after the break – the touch of higher division class that several of their players were capable of clearly paying dividends.

The home team’s cause was not helped by the distraction of enforced substitutions – Adam Doyle making way at the break, due to injury, after completing only his second 45 minutes of pre-season, while Sole limped off shortly after the re-start due to a slight niggle in the back of his right leg.

While the Cards were still re-organising they found themselves behind – a cross from the right leaving Clarke free to head home his second while, having surged forward in numbers once again, powerful forward Hewitt was allowed to slide the ball past Howe for 3-2.

Once the Cards had found their feet in the second half they began again to look the better team, substitute Joe McNerney heading Woking deservedly level after fellow replacement Jay Davies had floated in a fine free-kick.

Even with Andrade neatly cutting inside Newton to smash home a winner for Rangers in the closing stages, the home fans were still able to leave Kingfield with a good deal of optimism for the new season.

In midfield the Cards look especially strong, with Ademola now giving Garry Hill another option out wide alongside Sole, Koranteng, Binns and Griffiths, who was once again impressive coming off the bench. Jack King, Mark Ricketts and Jay Davies look an extremely enterprising midfield trio, while Wayne Gray and youngster Ola Sogbanmu look like being stiff competition for Hammond up top.

Elsewhere, Newton and now Duncan have settled well into the full-back roles and look ideal replacements for Ricky Anane and Aswad Thomas. There will be many a headache for the Woking management team over the final two selection issues as Alan Inns and Aaron Howe continue to successfully argue a case for their inclusion.

Everyone has one final opportunity to impress this Saturday when the Cards travel to Isthmian Division One contenders Heybridge Swifts. An exciting new season is just around the corner!

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Derek Duncan (Anson Cousins 78), Mark Ricketts, Alan Inns, Adam Doyle (Joe McNerney 46), Nathan Koranteng (Josh Griffiths 70), Jack King, Moses Ademola (Jay Davies 70), Elvis Hammond (Ola Sogbanmu 70), Giuseppe Sole (Wayne Gray 49).

Unused Sub: Matt Pegler

Goals: Duncan 14, Sole 36, McNerney 72

Goals: Clarke 30, 52, Hewitt 54, Andrade 74.

MOTM: Jack King (pictured) – Calm under pressure, strength in abundance, excellent array of passing, the midfield powerhouse has looked a fine piece of business from Garry Hill during pre-season, and Cards fans will be hoping for more of the same when the season itself gets under way.

Attendance: 926
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