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Woking's play-off hopes battered by Grimsby Town

Haydn Cobb - 7th March 2015

Woking's play-off hopes battered by Grimsby Town Woking 1 Grimsby Town 2
Vanarama Conference
7th March 2015

Woking’s play-off ambitions suffered a blow at the hands of promotion-chasing Grimsby Town, with goals from ex-Card Ollie Palmer and Jon-Paul Pittman clinching the game despite John Goddard’s late effort.

The Cards came into the game off back-to-back away wins at Lincoln City and Dartford but gifted two goals to their opponents, which gave them just too much to do to claw back an unlikely point.

Woking remain seventh in the Vanarama Conference on 56 points but their play-off hopes have been severely dented after Forest Green Rovers in fifth and Eastleigh in sixth both won, widening the points gap. Garry Hill’s men are now four points behind Eastleigh, who have two games in hand, and nine points off Forest Green, although Woking have a game in hand on them.

Palmer, on loan at the Mariners from Mansfield Town, came back to haunt Woking after graduating from the Cards' academy and put the visitors ahead on 41 minutes, slamming home into an empty net after Craig Disley’s effort rebounded off a combination of Jake Cole and the post.

Pittman gave Grimsby a two-goal cushion in the 65th minute with a header after the home side switched off after conceding a free-kick. Woking rallied through Goddard’s late strike, who finished after Scott Rendell's header across goal found the midfielder unmarked, but the Cards failed to find an equaliser in the dying minutes.

Woking welcomed loan signing Brian Saah into the starting line-up to provide cover for injured centre backs Joe McNerney and Mike Cestor. Saah has joined the club on a 28-day loan from Dagenham and Redbridge. The rest of the team remained unchanged from the victory at Dartford on Tuesday night.

Both sides eased into the game with the teams full of confidence coming off the back of consecutive wins. Garry Hill knew the Cards needed to maintain their recent good form if they were to overcome a stubborn Grimsby team who had only lost three away league games all season.

The Mariners had the best of the early chances, with Nathan Arnold latching on to a Pittman flick-on. The forward raced through on goal but Cole stayed on his feet, which forced the early shot from Arnold who lashed it wide of the target.

Woking began to get into their stride after 20 minutes with some slick one-touch passing in the Grimsby half but were struggling to find the final ball to cause the visitors' defence any real problems. Joey Jones advanced from right-back with an early low cross to the edge of the box which was cleverly dummied by Kevin Betsy for Josh Payne to arrive late, but the midfielder’s shot was deflected over.

Debutant Saah, who had only had one training session with the Cards, marshalled the Grimsby forwards superbly, showing the class which has earned him over 200 Football League appearances.

On the half-hour mark, Goddard volleyed over a good opportunity in the centre of the box as chances for both sides started arriving.

At the other end, Grimsby winger Jack Mackreth fired a cross-shot from the right flank but it eluded Palmer at the far post.

As the game approached half-time Woking fell behind after Palmer poked home. A long ball forward was only partially cleared by Chris Arthur, whose header fell kindly to Disley on the edge of the box. His half-volley bounced just in front of Cole who palmed it onto the post and back into the danger zone. Palmer was quickest to react to slam home over the floored goalkeeper.

Half-time: Woking 0 Grimsby Town 1

The home side continued to battle against the former Football League side after the break and Yemi Odubade had the first chance of the half. Beating the offside trap, the Woking forward attempted a scooped shot over the goalkeeper but his effort narrowly missed the left-hand post.

Woking started to chase the game with captain Mark Ricketts being substituted for Keiran Murtagh and changing to a 4-3-3 with Kevin Betsy pushing further forward.

However, minutes later the Cards fell two behind after Pittman beat Cole to a cross and headed in from close range. Woking were complaining about a dubious free-kick decision against them and were not alert to the quick re-start, which gave Pittman the opportunity to steal in and provide the Mariners with a two-goal cushion.

The home side continued to fight back, throwing on Giuseppe Sole and Charles Banya into attack. Sole’s first touch was a trademark free-kick, which was parried by James McKeown back into the penalty area. Rendell was first to the rebound but couldn’t provide enough power in the header and Grimsby cleared their lines.

Rendell then had another decent opportunity from a deep Payne cross, with the Woking top scorer getting ahead of his marker but his headed effort whistled wide.

Time started to run out for the home side but they did give themselves a lifeline through Goddard’s third goal in two games. Murtagh’s deep cross picked out Rendell at the far post, who nodded back across goal to Goddard, who smashed home from five yards out.

Despite Woking’s best efforts to find an equaliser, the Mariners saw the game out to take all three points and keep alive their chances of the automatic promotion spot. As for the Cards, this defeat will come as a bitter blow to their own promotion hopes as they see the gap widen above them.

Next up, the Cards travel to the New Bucks Head Stadium this coming Saturday to take on bottom of the table AFC Telford United.

Woking: Jake Cole, Chris Arthur, Brain Saah, James Clarke, Joey Jones, John Goddard, Mark Ricketts (Keiran Murtagh 57), Josh Payne, Kevin Betsy (Charles Banya 75), Scott Rendell, Yemi Obubade (Giuseppe Sole 75)

Unused subs: Andy Little, Adam Newton

Goals: Goddard (83)

Booked: Clarke (88)

Grimsby Town: James McKeown, Gregor Robertson, Shaun Pearson, Carl Magnay, Aristote Nsiala, Craig Clay, Nathan Arnold, Craig Disley, Jack Mackreth, Ollie Palmer (Danny Parslow 81), Jon-Paul Pittman (Ross Hannah 72)

Unused subs: Scott Brown, Christian Jolley, Paul Bignot

Goals: Palmer (41), Pittman (65)

Booked: Hannah (85)

Sponsors' MOTM: Brian Saah

Attendance: 2,653
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