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The Cards keep the Pirates at Bay

Jamie Hall - 18th January 2015

The Cards keep the Pirates at Bay Woking 0 Bristol Rovers 0
Vanarama Conference
17th January 2015

The Cards produced one of their best performances in recent weeks to earn a creditable point against a big and strong Rovers team, who were looking to close the gap at the top of the table on Barnet, who had lost at Grimsby earlier in the day. The game ended in a stalemate after both sides had reasonable chances to snatch the game. Although Woking were unable to end their winless run in the league, which stretches back to the beginning of December, Garry Hill and his team will be pleased with the performance they put in to keep the Gas quiet for most of the game.

Woking made one change from Tuesday night's FA Trophy game, which saw Dean Morgan drop out of the squad to be replaced by Ross Lafayette, who was making his debut following a one-month loan deal from Luton Town of League Two.

Garry Hill stuck with the 4-4-2 formation he had used in midweek with Jake Cole in goal, Newton, McNerney, Clarke and Arthur in defence, Payne and Jones holding the midfield, Goddard and Betsy down either wing and Marriott and Lafayette playing up top together.

The first ten minutes was a battle to see which team could keep hold of possession the best and try to dictate the opening stages of the game. It was Woking who looked better when on the ball with some good passing moves involving Josh Payne and Joey Jones across the centre of the Woking midfield.

Despite Woking’s early promise it was the visitors, playing in front of a huge travelling contingent, who created the first real chance of the game. A lovely ball into the box was met by the head of Matty Taylor only for the linesman to wave his flag for offside. An early sign that the front men could be a handful for Woking’s back four.

Just a minute later and the Bristol Rovers supporters were disappointed not to see their team take the lead when target man Nathan Blissett raced through on goal but could only stab his effort wide as Jake Cole raced out to narrow the angle.

Woking then had their first real chance of the game as Joey Jones let fly from about 35 yards out but his shot smacked against the head of Lafayette, causing the ball to spiral upwards and almost over the head of Will Puddy in the Rovers goal, but the visitors' 'keeper did well to hold on to the ball.

This effort seemed to lift the Woking players as they went on the attack once more. A lovely weighted pass from Payne picked out Adam Newton in space on the touchline. He beat his man and whipped in an excellent ball for Jack Marriott, but unfortunately it was inches too high for the head of the Ipswich loanee.

With just a minute left on the clock before half-time, Bristol Rovers thought that they had taken the lead when the ball was slotted into the Woking goal by Taylor, but fortunately for the home fans, the linesman had raised his flag for offside.

Half-time: Woking 0 Bristol Rovers 0

Rovers quickly won a free-kick at the start of the second half 20 yards from the Woking goal only for Lee Mansell to put his effort just over the crossbar.

Woking settled down and were soon causing the Bristol Rovers' back four issues when John Goddard played in Kevin Betsy down the right-hand side. The veteran midfielder's cross couldn’t have been more precisely placed for Josh Payne, who was waiting in the middle of the penalty area, but the danger was snuffed out in the nick of time.

The home side now seemed to have the belief that they could go on and win the game. Another fine move starting with Josh Payne, who was having an excellent game, saw the midfielder receive the ball back but his finessed shot went narrowly wide of the post.

Time was now running out and with just five minutes plus stoppage time remaining, both teams were still pressing hard to break the deadlock. Again, it was Betsy, marauding down the right, whose cut-back was deflected into the side-netting by a Rovers defender with many in the ground thinking that the ball had found the back of the net.

The last chance of the game was to fall to the away side as a Bristol head met the delivery but to the relief of the locals, the ball ended up in the KRE.

In the end a draw was a fair result, as acknowledged by Garry Hill after the match. Woking certainly had their opportunities to score but so too did the opposition so a point apiece was probably about right.

Next up for the Cards will be Dover at Kingfield on Saturday 24th January in the 3rd round of the FA Trophy. Make sure you are there to see Garry Hill's men try to advance a step closer to Wembley.

Woking: Jake Cole, Adam Newton (Keiran Murtagh 90), Joe McNerney, James Clarke, Chris Arthur, Josh Payne, Joey Jones, Kevin Betsy, John Goddard, Jack Marriott (Giuseppe Sole 56), Ross Lafayette (Scott Rendell 74)

Unused subs: Andy Little, Mark Ricketts

Bookings: Joey Jones (48)

Bristol Rovers: Will Puddy, Tom Lockyer, Lee Mansell, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Ollie Clarke (Daniel Leadbitter 26), Jake Gosling, Matty Taylor (Ellis Harrison 77), Tom Parkes, Andy Monkhouse and Nathan Blissett

Unused subs: Steve Mildenhall, Adam Dawson

Bookings: Ollie Clarke (21)

Sponsor's MOTM: Joe McNerney

Attendance: 3,853

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