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Super Cards turn on the style

Brian Caffarey - 31st March 2012

Super Cards turn on the style Woking 5 Thurrock 1
31 March 2012

The Cards have often struggled this season against sides at the wrong end of the table, with three of their five defeats coming against Maidenhead, Staines and Eastbourne Borough. But Garry Hill’s side were clearly in no mood to slip up this afternoon. Playing some mesmerising football at times, they were three goals to the good by the half-hour mark, thanks to an Alan Inns header and two free-kicks from Gez Sole (pictured), and should really have secured an even more emphatic win, creating numerous chances both in the remainder of the first half and throughout the second half. They added two more goals through a sumptuous Jack King volley and a Kevin Betsy penalty, with Thurrock’s Lee Boylan pulling a goal back in between. Dartford’s home win over Maidenhead United means that the Cards remain eight points clear, with the Darts still having a game in hand.

Garry had clearly decided to freshen things up a little following the defeat at Eastbourne Borough, bringing in Jack King on the right of midfield, Elvis Hammond in place of the injured Paris Cowan-Hall and Mike Cestor instead of Derek Duncan. Moses Ademola and Duncan dropped to the bench. Glenn Wilson made his home debut at right back.

After an initial strike well over from the visitors’ Luke l’ Anson the Cards were quickly into their stride, with ‘man of the match’ Keiran Murtagh – whose intricate close control and clever prompting was such a feature of the game – playing in Hammond for the first of many chances: this time just foiled by keeper Kitteridge.

But we didn’t have to wait much longer for the first goal. In the 7th minute Murtagh swung in Woking’s second corner and, with Thurrock’s defence static, Inns met the ball with a decisive header. (Adam Doyle’s joke about Alan Inns being a ‘head on a stick’ was quickly picked up by the KRE at this juncture!)

Inns, often lurking up front as Woking piled on the pressure, nearly set up another goal as he flicked on a free-kick but an even better chance fell to Murtagh. Some typically adroit play by Kevin Betsy on the left saw the ball pulled back to the on-loan midfielder, who, however, shot wide.

A minute later King, clearly relishing playing in a more forward midfield role at last, came mightily close to scoring. Bursting through onto a superb pass from Gez Sole, he flicked the ball over Kitteridge but inches over the bar.

It was hard to keep track of the plethora of chances created for, straightaway, Hammond was through on the right of the area. Kitteridge came out but Hammond chipped the ball over him, only to see it cleared off the line.

Thurrock, looking neat going forward and prompted by the astute Paul Terry in midfield, briefly interrupted Woking’s flow with a couple of goal attempts but both were well over.

Such were the chances created that it was hard to believe that only ten minutes or so had passed since Woking’s first goal when a trip on Betsy on the edge of the box saw Sole line up for a free-kick. His effort clipped the head of a defender in the wall before nestling in the back of the net. 2-0 to the Cards and only 19 minutes gone – and the seventh consecutive game in which Sole has scored.

The Cards now really turned it on, passing the ball around beautifully as they sought to open up Thurrock once more. A brilliant Murtagh cross was followed by an excellent pass from Wilson to Sole in the area. The in-form striker dinked it over a defender’s head but his fierce volley was just too high. What a goal that would have been!

But his name was soon on the score sheet again. On the half hour mark Inns was clumsily fouled just outside the box. The free-kick was straight in front of the goal but Sole somehow managed to evade the defensive wall – and there was the ball in the back of the net once more.

A goal fest beckoned as Hammond had a shot blocked and Inns didn’t quite get enough purchase on a header. More superb football from Murtagh and Betsy set up Hammond for another blocked shot.

Not surprisingly, the tempo faltered as half-time approached, and the Cards were grateful to Wilson for an excellent block to prevent the visitors from clawing a goal back.

Half-time: Woking 3 Thurrock 0

Derek Duncan came on after the break for Inns, who had been injured in his earlier goal attempt.

Woking were soon tearing forward again. Betsy made a superb run down the left, hitting the outside of the post, with only two minutes gone. Then King set Hammond free. He managed to round the keeper but in doing so the ball was played too far ahead: had he collided with the keeper instead of going round him – as some Premiership players would no doubt have done - a penalty might well have ensued.

Hammond – revelling in his first start for a while – nearly got through again before the visitors managed to get the ball in the net. But the assistant referee’s flag had been raised in advance of the strike.

The 56th minute saw Moses Ademola replace Tom Davis, whose head had been bandaged following a first-half injury. Ademola – who had enough chances to have secured a hat-trick in the time remaining – immediately had a shot blocked by the keeper, following some more Murtagh trickery which had won a corner, and there were shouts for a penalty as Betsy’s follow-up hit a defender.

The flowing football continued with a sweeping move out of defence by Betsy to Ademola, who crossed to Sole, whose header, however, went straight to Kitteridge.

But the fourth Woking goal followed a couple of minutes later – and what a superb strike it was! King did well to win the ball on the edge of the area and then hit a magnificent dipping volley into the far corner to beat Kitteridge all ends up.

With the Cards looking to negate Dartford’s better goal difference, it was a bit of a blow a minute later when the experienced Boylan got in between the central defenders to chest the ball down and fire past Aaron Howe to make it 4-1.

Another determined run through the middle by Betsy almost restored the four goal advantage before Dale Binns came on for Sole in the 69th minute. His pace down the left – Betsy having switched to the right, with Ademola in the middle – soon posed even more problems for the over-worked Thurrock defence. He set Murtagh free for a dangerous cross before Hammond slipped a ball inside to Ademola, who once more had his shot blocked by Kitteridge. Binns then set up Ademola again but, in spite of the latter’s clever footwork in the box, he couldn’t get his shot away.

It was Binns who set up Woking’s fifth goal in the 79th minute. His pace took him into the box and, as he tried to turn inside l’Anson, the latter, falling to the deck, appeared to handle the ball – at least that is what I assume the penalty was given for. Betsy stepped up and hammered the ball past Kitteridge.

Binns sought to get his name on the score sheet with a shot which flew over the bar before more intricate play by Betsy, Murtagh and Ademola teased the Thurrock defence as openings were sought in the area.

In the 86th minute a quick King free-kick out to Binns led to a wonderful whipped-in cross, with Ademola, only a couple of yards out, getting slightly underneath the ball and heading over.

There was still time for several more attacking moves, with Ademola coming closest as he burst through and collided with the keeper – but no foul was given.

This was a tremendous display by Garry Hill’s side. The quality of some of the play was probably the best we’ve seen this season, with Murtagh, Betsy and Hammond in particular showing outstanding skills at times. At the back Adam Doyle and Mike Cestor were very solid, while Tom Davis, till he went off, harried and prompted splendidly in midfield and Jack King looked back to the form we remember earlier this season.

Garry Hill will be well aware, though, that Basingstoke Town on Good Friday will be a much tougher proposition than today’s visitors, who, although they attempted to play some nice football, proved brittle under pressure.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Glenn Wilson, Mike Cestor, Keiran Murtagh, Alan Inns (Derek Duncan 46), Adam Doyle, Jack King, Tom Davis (Moses Ademola 56), Elvis Hammond, Giuseppe Sole (Dale Binns 69), Kevin Betsy

Unused subs: Andy Little, Wayne Gray

Booked: Glenn Wilson 82, Keiran Murtagh 90

Sponsor’s MOTM: Keiran Murtagh

Thurrock: Ross Kitteridge, Ahmed Deen (Ross Gilfedder 76), Jon O’Donnell, Rob Gillman, James White, Stuart Thurgood, Paul Terry, Sam Cutler, David Knight, Lee Boylan, Luke l’Anson

Unused subs: Jake Woodward, David Hughes, Eku Deen, James Davis

Booked: Luke l’Anson 78, Jon O’Donnell 82

Attendance: 1754

P.S. Don’t forget that the Cards are at home to Tonbridge Angels on Easter Monday, 9 April, at 3pm. Only two more home games to go, so make sure you are there!

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