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WOKING 1 ST ALBANS 2

Thomas Pool - 8th January 2007

3.00pm on Monday 1 January 2006
Nationwide Conference

After a hard fought victory to high flying York, Woking hosted St Albans City in the first game of 2007.

With a couple of changes forced due to injury, the Cards were still strong favourites and can be very disappointed by the manor in which we played. Shola came into the middle of the park and Chris Sharpling returned to partner the impressive Jamie Taylor up front.

And it was the combination of the two that led to an early lead for the Cards. A good through-ball was met by Jamie Taylor and he shot towards the far corner. Bastock could only parry and Chris Sharpling was there to put the ball into an empty net. So far, so good, 4 points out of 6 and 1 up within 5 minutes.

This, in fact, was really the only piece of free-flowing football that graced Kingfield by the cards in the afternoon and on 11 minutes it was nearly all square. A cross from Matt Hann was deflected by Danny Bunce into the path of Ram Marwa. With the goal gaping, he put his shot wide of the target and the cards had survived, for now. Just moments later Dean Cracknell had an excellent chance and, despite being called offside, Tom Hutchinson made a wonderful last ditch tackle.

Woking had their moments but these were mainly restricted to counter-attacks. They were dangerous on the break and started to use the pace of Taylor and Sharpling up front, as they both had half chances to extend the lead. But it was always the away side that looked more dangerous. And with 30 minutes gone, Lee Clarke had another chance for St Albans. Benyon fed Clarke through and if it was not for Murray deflecting the ball wide, it could so easily have been 1-1.

With half time fast approaching, the Cards could count themselves lucky to get in with the lead still intact and the lead was almost doubled. An excellent run from the impressive Taylor put Shola through, but his shot was parried by Bastock. Let truth be told, that this was the only meaningful contribution that Shola had in the game, and it is hard to think of many more in the season. Quite where his pre season form that persuaded Cockerill to sign in has gone, only he will know.

Half time - Woking 1-0 St Albans

A bright start to the second half was certainly needed and this is what proceeded to happen. After some good link up play between Sole and Taylor, the latter had a snap shot that just crept wide. But the defining moment arrived in the 52nd minute. Jamie Taylor, who did not stop running all afternoon, closed down the defender, and won the ball out wide on the left. He cut inside, went past one defender and shot from range, with only the foot of the post denying him his first goal at Kingfield. And it was from the resulting counter attack that things were levelled up. With Shola seemingly watching play go past him, Marwa was put through and when one-on-one with Jalal, made no mistake in equalising.

For the last half hour the Cards were absolutely appalling. The only efforts to mention being a free kick won by Taylor (after another excellent run) and a long effort from Sole that ended up half way up the Bellway Stand. Woking then started to just hoof the ball at every given moment, bypassing the midfield and up towards the strikers.

Shwan had already made 2 excellent saves and he was called upon again to keep out another St Albans attack. With about 15 minutes remaining, Clarke hit a good shot towards the near post but Shwan punched the ball clear. With just a few moments passed, Taylor took the ball and sprinted clear. Damian Batt therefore decided to take him out and he was sent off for his troubles. The question was, could Woking push forward for the last 10 minutes and get a goal with an extra man? No.

In fact, it was looking increasingly likely that we would lose and St Albans deservedly got their winner with 5 minutes to go. As the man of the match was announced (Tom Hutchinson), he himself slipped and Tom Davis put the ball over the advancing Jalal and into the net.

Woking were truly pitiful at times, with schoolboy errors being made. Goma was not effective, Karl just pumped the ball has far as he could and Shola may as well have not been there. In fact, the only three players that can walk away thinking that they made any meaningful effort were Tom Hutchinson, Jamie Taylor and Matt Ruby. Hutch was his usual solid self, Matt Ruby looked very comfortable, and Taylor was simply immense all afternoon. We all know that the squad is young, but something's got to give. We can not continue to play like this. Where was the performance from Oxford, or the resilience from York? Glenn needs to do something, before it?s too late!!

Woking: Jalal, Murray, Hutchinson, Ruby, Bunce, Taylor, Oyedele (Cockerill 78), Evans, Lambu (Ferguson 74), Sole, Sharpling (Sankoh 74).

Subs Not Used: Bittner, MacDonald.

Goals: Sharpling 5.

Att: 2,178

Sponsor's MoTM: Tom Hutchinson


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