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Improving Cards fail to see game out

Brian Caffarey - 14th September 2013

Improving Cards fail to see game out Woking 2 Tamworth 2
13 September 2013

An absorbing, dramatic game on a pitch which was barely playable saw the Cards come from behind to put themselves within reach of claiming all three points and then throw two of them away with some calamitous defending with a few minutes to go. Garry Hill must be tearing out (what’s left of) his hair at such profligacy. At least the point ended the Cards’ run of four defeats.

Garry gave a debut to new loan signing Scott Rendell, who had an impressive first outing, taking up good positions, making himself available and laying the ball off intelligently. He even scored on his debut, although it seems doubtful if he knew much about it (photo shows him celebrating with Gez Sole). The Cards lined up in what looked like a 4-2-3-1 formation, with a back line of Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson and Mike Cestor in front of Aaron Howe, shielded by Mark Ricketts and Josh Payne, with an advanced midfield three of Lee Sawyer on the right, Gavin Williams in the middle and Kevin Betsy out left all supporting Rendell.

The rain had been chucking it down and continued to do so virtually throughout the game, with a good deal of surface water on the dugout side of the pitch, especially towards the Kingfield Road end, causing the ball to hold up frequently.

The Cards, kicking towards the Leslie Gosden Stand, started at a furious pace, with Rendell having two strikes on goal in as many minutes. Unfortunately, his header was straight at Tamworth’s keeper, Cameron Belford, and the latter palmed away a decent left-footed effort. McNerney then had a goalbound shot deflected for a corner. Woking continued to make virtually all the running, moving the ball well in spite of the conditions. Betsy, out on the more playable side of the pitch, put in a dangerous cross which ricocheted off a defender to the keeper and Sawyer, playing in a more advanced role than usual, also threatened from out on the opposite flank.

The 15-minute mark was up before the visitors managed their first real attack. Howe caught the (no doubt slippery) ball well from a corner but then dropped it as he landed, fortunately recovering quickly. At the other end, Rendell showed up well again, feeding Sawyer, whose cross was blocked once more.

Having been fortunate to survive the first 20 minutes unscathed, the visitors – typically in Woking’s season so far – then grabbed the lead. Richard Baker seized on a loose ball some 25 yards out and let fly on the half-volley. Speculative though the shot may have been, it was well directed and beat Howe’s dive to his left just inside the post.

‘Oh, no, here we go again!’ must have been the thought that went through many Cards fans’ minds as play resumed. Hopes were raised, though, as more fine play by Rendell saw him pull the ball back into Williams’s path, only for another interception to thwart the attack. The Cards continued to press but Tamworth were now much more in the game and Garry Hill’s side were finding it harder to create openings. Nevertheless, Rendell got in a header which the keeper fumbled on the line; Betsy cut inside but shot weakly and then made a surging run into the area. The defenders resisted the temptation to hack him down and the ball just wouldn’t carry with him.

Ryan Lloyd thumped a free-kick for the Lambs not far over Howe’s cross-bar as the half drew to a close but the nearest we came to another goal was when Williams ended a superb Woking move with a glancing header from a Newton cross which went into the side-netting.

The Cards left the field no doubt feeling that they were hard done by to be losing by a goal in a game which they had largely controlled.

Half-time: Woking 0 Tamworth 1

The Cards re-appeared in a changed yellow strip for the second half and almost immediately had an excellent chance to level the scores but Parkinson, a couple of yards out, couldn’t make contact with McNerney’s downward header from a corner.

Tamworth attacked with a couple of long balls to the far post and several corners as the Cards increasingly seemed to get bogged down, too often attempting to play passes on the ground in the most waterlogged area of the pitch. Home fans had to wait until the 58th minute for the next real attempt on goal when Payne sent in a fierce drive which was deflected safely up into the keeper’s arms. More minutes passed before Cestor whipped in a smart cross which Rendell glanced wide.

The 67th minute saw Gez Sole come on for Payne and, shortly afterwards, the Cards grabbed a somewhat fortuitous, if deserved, equaliser. Lee Sawyer did well to make space on the edge of the area and his shot deflected off Rendell, leaving the keeper stranded. Rendell was more than happy to claim the goal on his debut while acknowledging Sawyer’s major contribution.

The game became increasingly feisty as the Cards drove forward scenting victory and players slid into waterborne tackles. On 78 minutes Duane Courtney clambered all over Sole in the box and Williams coolly converted his fourth penalty of the season to put the Cards 2-1 in front.

Tempers frayed as Williams was tripped. Wayne Thomas, clearly believing that Williams had ‘made a meal of it’, rushed over, grabbed him, attempted to haul him from the ground and appeared to tread on him. A melee followed, with the referee eventually booking three Tamworth players but not Thomas in spite of being vocally reminded by the home crowd of the number of the principal offender!

Just as the Cards were beginning to think that the three points had been all but secured, some dreadful defending threw away the victory. It looked as though at least two Woking players had the opportunity to clear the ball decisively but they chose instead to dally and dither. The ball flew across the box and Richard Peniket steered it home past Howe. Woking heads slumped into hands on and off the pitch!

It could have been worse. Howe had to pull off an excellent block as Tamworth broke clear a few minutes later.

In the closing stages Sawyer tested the keeper with a crisp shot. Belford fumbled but recovered before Rendell could swoop. The Cards then had to survive a final corner before the referee blew time on a game which certainly wasn’t dull!

The Cards can at least take heart from another improved performance and, in Scott Rendell, they do at last seem to have someone who looks as though he really knows how to lead the line. There is no reason why they shouldn’t approach the trips to Hyde and Macclesfield in a positive frame of mind.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Gavin Williams, Kevin Betsy, Mike Cestor, Josh Payne (Giuseppe Sole 67), Scott Rendell

Unused subs: John Nutter, Anthony McNamee, Gavin McCallum, Sam Beasant

Booked: Mike Cestor

Tamworth: Cameron Belford, Jack Evans (Duane Courtney 48), Ben Richards-Everton, Kerry Lloyd (Jordan Rose 68), Richard Baker, Richard Peniket, Tony Capaldi, Wayne Thomas, Ryan Lloyd (Andy Todd 72), Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Mark Wright

Unused subs: Darron Byfield, James Wren

Booked: Jack Evans, Richard Peniket, Andy Todd, Cameron Belford, Duane Courtney

Sponsor’s MOTM: Gavin Williams

Attendance: 1264





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