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Cards share spoils in entertaining draw

Phil Batts - 7th November 2012

Cards share spoils in entertaining draw Woking 2 Kidderminster Harriers 2
Blue Square Bet Premier
Tuesday 6th November 2012



The Cards played out a whirlwind 2-2 draw against Kidderminster Harriers in an end-to-end match which could have quite easily finished with double the number of goals. A superb exhibition of attacking play from both teams was balanced by some questionable defending which would have left both managers looking on in exasperation. The Cards' early lead, courtesy of the ever-skilful and industrious Lee Sawyer, was cancelled out by two strikes from Nathan Blissett, nephew of the more famous Luther. The Harriers also missed a first-half penalty, before Woking secured a deserved equaliser midway through the second half thanks to Bradley Bubb.

The Cards made two changes to the side which started in the disappointing defeat at Gateshead on Saturday - Adam Doyle and Bradley Bubb replacing Mike Cestor and Loick Pires, who both dropped to the bench. The team lined up in the now familiar 4-5-1 formation, allowing Kevin Betsy and Gavin McCallum to push forward in support of lone striker Bubb whenever possible. On a cold, clear evening Woking started brightly and might have taken the lead as early as the second minute. A good break from Betsy in midfield found Bubb in space in the Harriers' penalty area but he blasted his shot high over the bar. The Cards were not to be denied, however, and went ahead in the following minute. Once again Betsy was the architect, making a good run into the area and finding Sawyer, who beat the 'keeper at his near post from eight yards out.

The goal settled any early Woking nerves and they proceeded to play some trademark quick and incisive football when going forward. An excellent effort from McCallum in the tenth minute might have extended the lead but his curling left-foot shot from the edge of the box went just wide of the right-hand post.

It was not all Woking, however, with the Harriers also showing some neat touches in midfield, complemented by some surging runs from striker Nathan Blissett. In the sixteenth minute, Kidderminster drew level and it was that man Blissett doing the damage, scoring his first goal for the club with a thundering header from six yards out following Anthony Malbon's right-wing cross.

Kidderminster were now starting to look slightly the sharper of the two sides and, buoyed by their equaliser, began to press forward with some menace. On twenty-seven minutes they should have taken the lead. Ryan Rowe burst into the box and was brought down by Adam Newton for a clear penalty. Cards fans held their breath awaiting a card of some sort but, surprisingly, the referee chose to brandish neither yellow nor red. To make matters worse for the Harriers, Lee Vaughan's spot kick was superbly saved by Aaron Howe (pictured), diving to his right.

The game continued at an excellent tempo, with chances being created at either end. It seemed clear that more goals were likely and, unfortunately for the Cards, it was Kidderminster who took the lead in the forty-second minute. Again, Blissett was the scorer, converting from close range after Howe had made an excellent save to deny Rowe.

Woking still had time to carve out an opening for McCallum but his deflected shot was well saved by Nathan Vaughan. This was the last meaningful action of the half and, on the balance of play, the Harriers just about deserved their slender lead, despite various spells of bright and positive play from the Cards.

Half-time: Woking 1 Kidderminster Harriers 2

Woking brought on Dean Sinclair for Jack Parkinson at the start of the second half and were immediately into their stride. Betsy cut in from the right and beat his defender with ease before unleashing a fine shot which the 'keeper turned away with some difficulty. McCallum, following up, then saw his effort ricochet to safety. Typical of the match, Kidderminster immediately counter-attacked and found the back of the Woking net only for the 'goal' to be ruled out by an offside flag.

The game continued at breakneck speed with plenty of goalmouth action. The Cards were continuing to look threatening in the opposition half but without being able to find the killer final ball. Sinclair, given his comparative lack of playing time so far this season, was looking comfortable in possession and prompting the attack with some neat but simple touches.

As the game reached the hour mark, the Cards were gradually beginning to assert themselves and the noise level around the ground was starting to increase as the Cards faithful started to sense an equaliser. It almost came on sixty-two minutes, when a Sawyer free-kick caused panic in the Harriers' defence before the ball was hacked behind for a corner. Woking were not to be denied, however, and their second goal duly arrived three minutes later. There seemed to be little danger as the Harriers' defence looked to clear their lines. Josh Gowling, the central defender, appeared to slip whilst in possession and Bradley Bubb immediately seized on the opportunity and calmly lifted his shot over the advancing 'keeper from the edge of the area for a well-taken goal. The referee waved away complaints from the Kidderminster players that Gowling had been fouled in the build-up to the goal.

Any thoughts that both teams would now settle for a draw were quickly dispelled as each side continued to tear into each other in search of a winner. Chances were created at either end with the Cards continuing to give as good as they got. They still had to be alert at the back, however, and had Aaron Howe to thank on a number of occasions for some outstanding handling and positional play.

Despite a goal looking as though it could come at any minute at either end, the referee brought this pulsating encounter to an end without any further addition to the scoreline and both teams looked exhausted as they trooped off the pitch.

Going into the match, Woking were the highest scorers in the Conference Premier but had also conceded more goals than any other team. On this performance, it was easy to see why. Excellent going forward and with a number of skilful players who can hurt the opposition, they can also look vulnerable when defending and prone to the occasional lapse in concentration. That said, they sit in eleventh place in the league with twenty-three points from eighteen matches and hopefully well on course for Garry's 'safety' target of fifty points. Keeping their key players fit will be of paramount importance as they approach the difficult winter period. It won't come much harder than Saturday's long trip to Grimsby.



Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Brett Johnson, Adam Doyle (Mike Cestor 62), Mark Ricketts, Jack Parkinson (Dean Sinclair 46), Lee Sawyer, Kevin Betsy, Gavin McCallum, Bradley Bubb (Loick Pires 80)

Unused subs: Sam Beasant, Brett Williams

Goals: Lee Sawyer (3), Bradley Bubb (65)

Cautions: Kevin Betsy (29), Mark Ricketts (76)

Kidderminster Harriers: Nathan Vaughan, Lee Vaughan, Mickey Demetriou, Chey Dunkley, Josh Gowling, Kyle Storer, James Vincent, Keith Briggs (Callum Gittings 46), Ryan Rowe (Marvin Johnson 68), Anthony Malbon (Richard Peniket 79), Nathan Blissett

Unused subs: Daniel Lewis, Danny Pilkington

Goals: Nathan Blissett (16, 42)

Cautions: Chey Dunkley (20), Kyle Storer (33)

Attendance: 1,168

MOTM: Aaron Howe. Made some excellent saves (including a penalty) and was calm and decisive throughout.
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