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Cards falter in play-off race

Brian Caffarey - 6th April 2015

Cards falter in play-off race Dover Athletic 2 Woking 1
6 April 2015

A tired-looking second-half display from Garry Hill’s side saw them slip behind in the play-off race as the Whites recovered from a one-goal deficit at half-time to dominate play and deservedly earn all three points. Woking had looked comfortable at half-time with a lead given to them by Yemi Odubade, who pounced when the Dover keeper Mitch Walker couldn’t hold a Kevin Betsy shot. But the Cards never got going in the second half and Stefan Payne after equalising early on won the game with a late penalty after Brian Saah was adjudged to have brought down Ricky Modeste.

Garry Hill was forced to make one change from the side which had drawn 2-2 at home to Welling United on Saturday, with the suspended Joey Jones being replaced by Manny Oyeleke, who started on the right of midfield, with Mark Ricketts partnering Saah in central defence.

On a cold, cloudy afternoon, the Cards, backed by plenty of vocal support, started confidently enough, Oyeleke having the first shot on goal with a volleyed effort over the bar. From a Woking perspective, there was hope to be had from the fact that Kevin Betsy, out left, seemed to have the beating of his opposite number, forcing three corners in the first twenty minutes – but Woking have rarely scored from set pieces this season and it was no different on this occasion.

From about the midway point of the half the home side, who had initially looked content just to absorb any Woking pressure, began to come more into the game, stringing a few passes together. Mark Ricketts made a crucial block in the box and Dover gained a couple of corners but without causing any real problems for the Woking defence. Michael Crowe had to hold a decent strike from Tom Murphy and then, on 31 minutes, had to be alert to tip a header from Connor Essam over the bar. This was followed by another dangerous Murphy cross, which Crowe took cleanly.

Having survived this bit of Dover pressure, the Cards struck in the 37th minute. Betsy once again got the better of his opponent, twisting and turning him, before hitting a left-footed effort which Mitch Walker could only parry into the path of Yemi Odubade, who slotted home.

The Cards continued to look fairly comfortable till half-time, with only a shot from Murphy, straight at Crowe, the cause of any concern.

Half-time: Dover Athletic 0 Woking 1

Dover started the second half as though they meant business – and set the pattern for the whole of the second half. The Cards simply could not get going, with the midfield creating very little and balls forward being swallowed up by the Dover back line. The Dover keeper was largely a spectator as his team mates were first for nearly every ball and pushed forward at every opportunity, with Stefan Payne suddenly looking a handful for the Woking defence.

With two minutes gone, Modeste was able to hook the ball across the front of the penalty area and Tyrone Sterling, charging in, blasted a fierce effort just over the bar. But it was a brief reprieve. Mark Ricketts conceded a ‘cheap’ corner. The ball was cleared but hammered back in and Stefan Payne deflected it with his head past Crowe to level the scores at 1-1.

Dover continued to press, with Stefan Payne shooting wide and then Crowe did well to grab a free-kick at the second attempt. He was called into action again in the 61st minute when Adam Newton lost a swirling ball forward in the air, with his back header falling short, but Crowe was just able to hoof clear.

Garry Hill brought on Gez Sole and John Goddard for Oyeleke and Odubade but neither was able to make any significant impact on the game, not least because of the poor service being provided to them. On the one occasion when Goddard pressed forward he passed behind Scott Rendell and the ball ran out of play.

With only one team looking as though they might score, Murphy struck a shot sweetly but straight at Crowe and then Ricketts made a superb block to deny Modeste. Stefan Payne tried a shot from distance which bounced awkwardly in front of Crowe, who nevertheless took it cleanly. As the game moved into the final ten minutes Ricketts just managed to clear ahead of Modeste.

Woking’s fans hadn’t had much to cheer about in the second half, so voices were raised when Gez Sole managed to win a corner with five minutes to go, but the keeper claimed the ball easily.

Dover finally broke through again in the 88th minute. A ball played forward saw Modeste fractionally ahead of Saah, who was adjudged to have brought him down in the box. Saah was red-carded for his troubles before Stefan Payne confidently slammed the ball past Crowe.

With four minutes added on, Woking’s hopes were raised as Betsy slalomed into the box but the ball seemed to bobble just as he hit it and it looped harmlessly wide and over the bar.

The Cards’ miserable second-half display was summed up by the final kick of the match. With Crowe thrown forward for a corner, Josh Payne’s kick didn’t even clear the first defender.

With only one point gained from their two Easter games, Woking now sit in 7th place, three points behind fifth-placed Forest Green Rovers, who won 4-1 at Chester, and one point behind Eastleigh, who won 2-1 at Welling United and also have a game in hand. A win at home against Gateshead next Saturday is an absolute ‘must’.

Woking : Michael Crowe, Adam Newton, Mark Ricketts, Brian Saah, Chris Arthur, Manny Oyeleke (John Goddard 65), Keiran Murtagh, Josh Payne, Kevin Betsy, Scott Rendell, Yemi Odubade (Giuseppe Sole 65)

Unused subs: Charles Banya, John Nutter, Andy Little

Goal: Yemi Odubade 37

Sent off: Brian Saah 88

Booked: Chris Arthur, Keiran Murtagh

Dover Athletic: Mitch Walker, Sean Raggett, Richard Orlu, Ricky Modeste, Tom Murphy (Tom Wynter 92), Stefan Payne, Sean Francis, Tyrone Sterling, Nick Deverdics, Solomon Taiwo, Connor Essam

Unused subs: Barry Cogan, Liam Bellamy, Chris Kinnear, James Poole

Goals: Stefan Payne 49 and 89 (pen)

Booked: Richard Orlu

My Woking MOTM: Michael Crowe


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