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Three Cards Crackers Secure The Points

Phil Batts - 23rd February 2014

Three Cards Crackers Secure The Points Woking 3 Macclesfield Town 2

The Skrill Premier

February 22nd 2014

Three superb individual goals put the gloss on a well-deserved Woking victory against mid-table Macclesfield Town. Trailing at the interval to an accurate Scott Boden finish early in the game following a defensive mistake by Mike Cestor, the Cards hit back with two fine goals from Jack Marriott and John Goddard. They then missed a golden opportunity to extend their lead when Scott Rendell failed to guide home a Josh Payne free-kick from close range. Shortly afterwards, the visitors made them pay for their generosity when George Pilkington made the most of an error from Sam Beasant in the Woking goal to fire home an equaliser. Justice prevailed, however, five minutes later when Rendell netted a delightful winner to send the Kingfield faithful home happy and push the team three points closer to safety.

Woking lined up in a now familiar 4-4-2 formation. In front of Sam Beasant was a back four of captain Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor and John Nutter. The midfield comprised John Goddard wide right, Kevin Betsy on the left and Josh Payne and Kieran Murtagh in the middle. Up front was the 'smash and grab' pairing of Scott Rendell and Jack Marriott.

On a bright but chilly day, the game got off to a quiet start on what increasingly became a stodgy and bobbly playing surface. Indeed, a large area in front of the dugouts was more akin to Brighton Beach than a football pitch due to heavy sanding. This, of course, was no reflection on our excellent groundsman Colin Galliford, but as a result of the quite appalling weather over the past few months.

It came as quite a shock, therefore, when Macclesfield took the lead with their first attack, and their only real chance of the half. There seemed to be no danger as an innocuous ball was played through the middle of the Woking defence. Unfortunately, it ran under Mike Cestor's foot and was gleefully seized upon by Scott Boden who slotted low to Beasant's left after only six minutes.

This was a body blow to the home side, whose confidence must have been fragile following their heavy mid-week defeat at Dartford. Slowly, however, they eased their way back into the game and steadily pushed their opponents back as they went in search of an equaliser. Just after the quarter-hour, a Rendell flick-on put Betsy into a dangerous position only for the giant defender Steve Williams to bring him down unceremoniously. From the resultant free-kick, Payne's attempt on goal flew just over the bar. Next, Betsy managed to wriggle clear on the byline and put in a dangerous low cross which was cleared to safety by the Macclesfield defence.

On the half-hour, it seemed as though the home side was certain to score. One of many accurate Josh Payne free-kicks throughout the afternoon was whipped into a dangerous area but with a couple of Woking players bearing down on him, the visitors' stopper Rhys Taylor managed to get his feet to the ball and the ball was hacked to safety. It was then the turn of Goddard who put over a tantalising cross from the left which was just too high for Rendell's leap in the six-yard box.

With the first-half nearing its conclusion, Marriott and Betsy broke quickly following a rare Macclesfield corner. The Ipswich loanee played in the veteran midfielder but the latter was thwarted by a last-gasp tackle as he prepared to pull the trigger.

It had been a frustrating half for the Cards who had deserved an equaliser as their opponents seemed content to sit back and soak up the pressure and hope to hit their hosts on the break.

Half-time: Woking 0 Macclesfield Town 1

Woking started the second half clearly determined to take the game to the visitors. From an early corner, the ball was only half-cleared and it fell to Payne but his shot from eighteen yards was just over.

With an hour gone and the playing surface becoming more difficult, there was little to suggest that the next seventeen minutes would see a flurry of four goals. However, in the sixty-first minute, Woking finally drew level. There were vehement appeals for a penalty from the visiting contingent following an aerial challenge on substitute Akpo Sodje, who was proving a handful to the home defence following his arrival on the pitch shortly after half-time. The referee waved away the claims and the ball was swiftly transferred to Marriott about forty-five yards from the Macclesfield goal. Up to now, the young striker had had a quiet game. However, he seized the moment, bore down on goal and very professionally planted a fine strike into the back of the net via the far post.

It was now all Woking and they deservedly took the lead eight minutes later. Superb skill from Payne saw him skate past an opponent and release Marriott on the edge of the box, only for the youngster's excellent strike to be superbly turned around the far post by Rhys Taylor. From the corner, the ball fell to the impressive John Goddard, who hit an unstoppable right foot shot high into the roof of the net from twenty yards.

It looked as though things would get even better soon afterwards when a dangerous in-swinging Payne free-kick from the left caught Rendell slightly off his guard and he was only able to poke a good opportunity wide.

As often happens in such situations, however, when an opportunity has been spurned, the opposition immediately make you pay for it. Sure enough, less than five minutes later, Beasant failed to gather a cross and it fell invitingly to George Pilkington who restored parity with a calm finish into the roof of the net as goalkeeper and defenders looked on aghast.

Back came the Cards, however, in this increasingly pulsating encounter and fittingly won the game with another superb individual effort. Rendell took a good pass from Goddard in his stride on the left-hand side of the penalty box and bent a superb right-footed shot into the far corner for the decisive goal of the afternoon.

The game became even more stretched now as Macclesfield pushed forward. Beasant made a smart stop above his head from a Chris Holroyd snapshot and Danny Rowe blasted high over the bar when he might have done better. Garry Hill then made two late changes in stoppage time to help run down the clock and the Cards held firm to record an important and impressive victory.

The win brought to an end a topsy-turvy week for the home side. From the euphoria of the superb victory at Gateshead last Saturday, through the various problems of Tuesday night at Dartford, both on and off the pitch, and finally the delight at a massive three points against Macclesfield, aided by some top quality goals. It's never dull at Kingfield. Two tough away fixtures follow this week, at Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday and Barnet next Saturday. A few more goals like we saw from the team in this match would not go amiss.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Mark Ricketts, John Nutter, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, Josh Payne, John Goddard, Kevin Betsy (Brett Johnson 90), Kieran Murtagh, Scott Rendell, Jack Marriott (Giuseppe Sole 90)

Unused Subs: Aaron Howe, Anthony McNamee, Reece Beckles

Goals: Jack Marriott 61, John Goddard 69, Scott Rendell 78

Cautions: None

Macclesfield Town: Rhys Taylor, Andy Halls, Paul Turnbull (Paul Lewis 90), Steve Williams, Danny Andrew, Jack Mackreth, Danny Whitaker, George Pilkington, Peter Winn (Danny Rowe 84), Chris Holroyd, Scott Boden (Akpo Sodje 48)

Unused Subs: Joe Connor, Scott Kay

Goals: Scott Boden 6, George Pilkington 73

Cautions: Paul Turnbull 29, Steve Williams 37 Danny Whitaker 87

Sponsor's MOTM: John Goodard – an excellent all-round performance capped by a brilliant goal. The young midfielder clearly has plenty to offer.

Attendance: 1,144


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