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Woking do Chester enough to remain unbeaten

Matthew Goldsmith - 14th September 2014

Woking do Chester enough to remain unbeaten Woking 1 Chester 0
Vanarama Conference
Saturday 13th September 2014


Cards claimed their third win of a testing week, to come out the other side with their unbeaten start still intact and 2nd in the table.

A second-half Gez Sole goal was the difference in a tight 1-0 win again, just as it had been four days previously in that watershed win against Aldershot at The Rec on Tuesday night.

While the winner may not quite have topped his 35-yard free-kick of that Shots game, Sole did supply a calm touch when it mattered to finish off some fancy footwork from fellow forward Dean Morgan.

Garry admitted afterwards that the demands of three big games in a week had left his side a little ‘off the pace’ against a compact and counter-attacking Chester, with the visitors' boss Steve Burr looking to steady the ship after five losses from his side’s opening eight games.

The Blues' latest reverse came on Tuesday night as they went down 2-0 to Torquay – whom Woking play themselves this Tuesday night.

Burr’s side landed their stand-out result of this early season programme last Saturday, as they beat an in-form Macclesfield 1-0 at The Deva.

Given that result, plus the fact that the Cheshire side took a 1-0 win away from Kingfield back in January, Cards fans knew that the ‘no easy games’ cliché was applicable here.

The summer has proved something of a ‘bedding-in period’ for a host of new faces after a transitional summer at The Deva, with the club originally planning for life in the Conference North, following their bottom four finish last season – only to be reprieved, along with Dartford, following the well-documented travails at Hereford and Salisbury City.

One well-known addition to the visitors' bench was ex-Scotland forward Chris Iwelomu.

Woking’s own latest signing – or re-signing – Ross Worner put in a Man of the Match clean sheet, after an emergency loan deal was struck with AFC Wimbledon.

Garry made a quick move for former academy graduate Worner, now 24, following the unfortunate confirmation on Wednesday that No.1 Aaron Howe had in fact broken his pelvis in a first-half collision against Aldershot.

Stand-in skipper Joe McNerney - who put in another commanding performance marshalling the red and white wall in front of Worner – was a hare’s breath away from an opener as he dived in with opposite number Kieron Charnock for a Dean Morgan corner in a lively opening few minutes.

Leading scorer, Scott Rendell went closer still to his eighth of the season, but saw his near-post flick from Josh Payne’s resulting corner headed off the line by diminutive full-back Gareth Roberts.

Payne had the crowd up again minutes later with a ‘Cruyff-turn’ freeing the midfielder from three in Chester’s shackled centre, before a deft outside-of-the-boot flick set Chris Arthur on his way.

Arthur’s fellow Dons-loannee Worner then got his first touch, with a comfortable low save from a Kingsley James effort, in an entertaining opening 10 minutes.

Robbie Savage look-(and play) alike James, and co. ensured that the following 35 minutes didn’t quite live up to that gung-ho start, however, as Chester looked to play their Cards a little closer to their chest – with the visitors' 4-5-1 formation choking Woking in the middle third.

Wide-man Jaden Hall did almost justify his side’s lockdown-and-counter approach, when his cross-cum-shot on the break was cleared off the line by Arthur.

The chance summed up a scrappy first-half for wing-back Arthur and his teammates, with the Cards unsure whether to stick or twist in their recently free-flowing 5-3-2/3-5-2 formation.

It appeared that it would take a set-piece or something special to break the stalemate, and there was a bit of both before the whistle.

Another whipped Payne corner hit McNerney’s chest and bounced just the wrong side of the upright, before James sent a 25-yarder crashing off the underside of Worner’s goal frame.

Woking hearts were in mouths as the Assistant’s flag was raised. Fortunately for the home side, this was to signal Craig Hobson offside on the rebound, rather than to say the ball had crossed the line.

Half-time: 0-0

Chairman Mike Smith provided the half-time entertainment, as he took on social media sensation ‘the ice bucket challenge’ on behalf of Woking & Sam Beare Hospices - guest for the day, ex-Card Grant Payne, gladly performing the duties.

Woking came out determined to cut a swathe through the maze of purple shirts after the interval, and didn’t take long to find the right path.

Dean Morgan stung the palms of goalkeeper James Worsnop after a jinking run from Theo Lewis, before Morgan turned provider on 52 minutes, for Sole to open the scoring for the second game running

With Woking sailing straight through the centre of the storm, Morgan dropped deep to fend off the attentions of skipper Danny Harrison, and a quick-fire flash of footwork later and the ball was on its way into an unguarded net as Sole just nipped in ahead of an onrushing Worsnop to nudge home Morgan’s assist from the edge of the area – the ball having just enough rotations to cross the line ahead of the scrambling defence.

Morgan should have perhaps doubled the lead moments before the hour-mark but sliced a left-footer across goal when well-placed inside the box.

Steve Burr threw on forward Iwelumo with a quarter of an hour to go, with the away side creating some half-chances as they looked to hit a purple patch late on.

And there was a threat of purple rain on Woking’s parade as John Rooney stepped up to a 25-yard free-kick after Payne had clipped sub Craig Mahon.

Like Sole, Rooney had notched a free-kick winner in almost identical circumstances against Macclesfield last week – to equal England skipper-brother Wayne’s one goal for the season - but despite getting the ball up and over the wall, the ball nestled safely in Worner’s gloves rather than the net.

Woking puffed out their defensive chests to see off Chester, who, had their touch or final ball been a little more composed, may have snuck an unlikely point.

But as it was, Woking sealed a sixth win of a blistering start to the campaign, which sees Garry Hill and his quick-starters sit 2nd in the Vanarama Conference Premier table, just a solitary point off promotion favourites Barnet, at the summit.

With 21 points out of a possible 27 on the board already, Woking travel to the West Country twice next week to face two of the division’s new boys and promotion picks – first to Plainmoor for Tuesday night’s trip Torquay United, before heading back cross-country to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Next up at Kingfield come Kidderminster Harriers in two weeks’ time.

Woking: Ross Worner, James Clarke, Joe McNerney(c), Mike Cestor, Theo Lewis (Adam Newton 57), Joey Jones, Josh Payne, Chris Arthur, Dean Morgan (Keiran Murtagh 73), Giuseppe Sole (John Goddard 73), Scott Rendell

Unused Subs: Andy Little, Nicholas Arnold

Bookings: Mike Cestor(63)

Goal(s): Giuseppe Sole(52)

Chester: James Worksop, Gareth Roberts, Ben Heneghan, Kieron Charnock, Michael Kay, Sean McConville (Craig Mahon 60), Kingsley James, Danny Harrison(c)(Callum Morris 79), Jaden Hall, Adam Rooney, Craig Hobson (Chris Iwelumo 79)

Unused Subs: Connor Roberts, Ibou Jourad

Bookings: Sean McConville(60)

Goal(s): -

Sponsor’s MOTM: Ross Worner – a clean-sheet as the ‘keeper slotted straight back into the defence.

Attendance: 1,629.
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