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Cards can't find a way through

Brian Caffarey - 9th October 2011

Cards can't find a way through Woking 0 Salisbury City 0
8 October 2011

Try as they might Garry Hill’s side just couldn’t prise open the door against a resolute Salisbury City defence yesterday afternoon, with Whites’ giant keeper, Conor Gough, pulling off several outstanding saves. But with Dartford losing away at Boreham Wood, the Cards stay top of the league and will now turn their attentions to next Saturday’s FA Cup encounter at Maidenhead United.

With Adam Newton injured and Joe McNerney ill, Garry Hill brought in the highly promising Josh Griffiths (pictured) at right back, while Mark Ricketts continued at centre back, this time partnering the returning Adam Doyle. Jay Davies kept his midfield place; Wayne Gray once again started ahead of Elvis Hammond; and Aaron Howe got the nod in goal.

The pattern of the game was soon set, with Woking doing most of the attacking but Salisbury presenting a threat through the aerial prowess of Robbie Matthews and the occasional break out of defence or free-kick. For the Cards the impressive Paris Cowan-Hall, so nimble and well-balanced, set up a good early chance for Dale Binns, who pulled his shot wide of the far post. Binns was in the limelight two minutes later as he robbed a defender but his shot was pushed away for a corner by Gough.

At the other end Howe wasn’t called into action till the quarter of an hour mark, saving comfortably from Adam Kelly and then punching clear at a corner.

The Cards continued to push forward, with Wayne Gray leading the line well, but with Salisbury defending in numbers the Cards found it hard at this stage of the game to fashion clear openings. With twenty-five minutes gone, however, Moses Ademola sprang into life, a clever shuffle enabling him to get in a shot from a tight angle which hit the foot of the post. The pressure increased as a lovely move saw Ademola drift inside, laying the ball square for Davies, whose curling effort was tipped over by Gough. Cowan-Hall was nearly put through as he took the ball down on his chest but a defender just managed to get a foot in. Shortly before half-time Davies’s shot was blocked, with his subsequent chip to Jack King being thwarted by more solid defending.

Half-time: Woking 0 Salisbury City 0

The second half became virtually one-way traffic as the Cards pushed forward, searching ever more urgently for the breakthrough which they certainly merited on the balance of play. First, though, they had to survive a scare as a Ryan Brett piledriver flew narrowly wide.

With Binns and Cowan-Hall giving former Academy player, Josh Casey, a torrid time on the Salisbury right flank, it seemed only a matter of time before a decisive opening would be created. After Cowan-Hall had been hauled down Derek Duncan sent a free-kick narrowly over the bar. The home crowd then enjoyed some outrageous defending by Ademola, nutmegging his way out of a tight corner – probably something which Garry Hill won’t want to see too often, however! Ademola was then seen in a more familiar attacking mode, with some brilliant footwork out on the right flank enabling him to pull the ball back – unfortunately, though, it went behind his fellow attackers.

The tempo increased as Griffiths intercepted superbly and tried an extremely ambitious long-range shot. Cowan-Hall, seeming to drift past defenders at will, called Gough into action again with a save at the near post. The keeper then bundled away a searing Ademola cross and Cowan-Hall saw another effort deflected for a corner.

Garry Hill began to ring the changes, bringing on Hammond for Gray with 69 minutes gone. Five minutes later it looked as though Woking would finally penetrate the Whites’ defence. Cowan-Hall robbed a defender, slalomed inside, made space and shot but Gough’s long reach just enabled him to push the ball wide. The resulting corner saw Davies blast just over the bar.

With just over ten minutes of normal time remaining, Gez Sole came on to replace Ademola. His first contribution was to lay the ball into the path of Davies at the end of a superb passing move but the midfielder, arriving at speed, drove the ball way over. A minute later there was a huge shout for a penalty as a cross appeared to be stopped by a defender’s hand but the referee waved play on.

A free-kick in a good central position just outside the box saw Sole produce one of his characteristic dipping efforts but Gough was there to parry the ball away.

A last throw of the dice saw Ola Sogbanmu thrown on in place of ‘man of the match’ Cowan-Hall and a penalty area scramble nearly presented him with a chance for glory but the pressure ended with Sole’s effort going wide. The final attack saw King flick a header wide but the referee’s whistle then saved the Salisbury defence from any further exertions.

Although it was disappointing not to collect the three points which the overall performance deserved, this was nevertheless a good display from Garry Hill’s side, especially in the second half. The defence was very solid, with Ricketts and Doyle outstanding in the centre and a confident Griffiths showing some excellent footwork and touches at right back. The energetic Davies covered a huge amount of ground in midfield, whilst Cowan-Hall in particular and Ademola threatened up front. Fortunately, the Cards won’t often come up against such a formidable keeper as Gough.

Woking: Andy Little, Josh Griffiths, Derek Duncan, Mark Ricketts, Jay Davies, Adam Doyle, Paris Cowan-Hall (Ola Sogbanmu 90), Jack King, Moses Ademola (Giuseppe Sole 79), Wayne Gray (Elvis Hammond 69), Dale Binns

Unused subs: Andy Little, Alan Inns

Booked: Wayne Gray, 36

Sponsor’s MOTM: Paris Cowan-Hall

Salisbury City: Conor Gough, Josh Casey, Charlie Knight, Ben Adelsbury, Brian Dutton, Ryan Brett, Adam Kelly (Claudio Herbert 79), Stuart Anderson, Dan Fitchett, Robbie Matthews (Jake Reid 74), Lewis Stockford

Unused subs: Tommy Smith, Darrell Clarke, Matt Wright

Booked: Lewis Stockford, 17; Ryan Brett, 51

Attendance: 1634
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