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WOKING 3 NORTHWICH VICTORIA 2

John Moore - 29th April 2007

3.00pm on Saturday 28th April
Nationwide Conference

With the sun beating down, and the Cards now safe from relegation and playing a team most likely on the verge of exhaustion after playing seven matches in the last fifteen days, everything pointed to a lack-lustre afternoon, with the players possibly already dreaming of packing their suitcases and heading off to foreign climes. In fact, quite the opposite happened, with both teams trying to play football in an open and, at times, exciting game that sent the fans away at the end in a happy, jolly holiday mood.

There were several changes in personnel after last week?s disappointing display at Rushden, as well as a change in formation to 3-4-3 that reflected Neil Smith?s pre-match comments that, ?we?re going to have a go today.? Danny Bunce came in to play on the left side of midfield, Karl Murray, being as versatile as ever, moved over from the centre of defence to play on the right at the back, with Tom Hutchinson replacing him in the middle of a back three and, finally, Sole was restored to the side and appeared to be given a roving role just behind the front two.

After only eight minutes, Northwich had two great opportunities to open the scoring. Following the award of a free-kick, Mark Roberts beat the Cards off-side trap to find himself on his own in the six yard area with no defender in sight. Surprised to find himself on his own, then remembering he was a centre-half too, he failed to control the ball and it ended up in a grateful Gindre?s arms. Immediately, the Vics proceeded to squander an even better opportunity when Gindre?s clearance, following Roberts howler, was charged down and fell invitingly at James Dean?s feet. Unlike his namesake, he showed no star quality and with the goal at his mercy, he unbelievably side footed the ball past the post when it seemed easier to score.

Following these two let offs, the Cards hit back through Marum, who worked tirelessly all afternoon. Collecting the ball midway in the Vics half, he went on a strong run and although forced out wide, got in a powerful shot that seemed to be heading towards the top corner, only for Senior to fingertip the ball into side netting. Woking then took lead, after capitalising on a piece of good fortune when a defender?s hurried clearance rebounded off Sole into Marum?s path. Unlike Northwich, who?d spurned a similar excellent opportunity earlier, he strode on confidently to calmly slot the ball home after twenty two minutes.

The goal settled the Cards down and they started to confidently stroke the ball around, and it began to look as though the Vics recent exertions was beginning to catch up with them. However, no one had accounted for the intervention of the referee, Mr Turner, who inexplicably handed Northwich a
life-line by awarded them a penalty out of the blue on the half-hour mark.

There was seemingly no danger when Gindre dived to collect a through ball, however to everyone?s amazement, he pointed to the spot having deemed the keeper to have fouled the forward, when it was obvious to everyone around, including all the players from both sides in the vicinity of the incident, that he?d cleanly collected the ball and not touched the forward in any shape or form. Once the Cards protests had died down, with the referee booking Smith and Hutchinson in the process, although strangely not Gindre for committing the so called foul, Byrne coolly despatched the penalty, sending Gindre the wrong way.

Half-time Woking 1 Northwich Victoria 1

Although the penalty had given Northwich some optimism that it might be their afternoon after all, it didn?t take the Cards fresher legs long to reassert their hold over the match. Following the award of a free-kick, Selley expertly flighted the ball onto the head of the unmarked Hutchinson, who powerfully directed his header down and into the corner of the net in the fifty-fifth minute.

McAllister almost added a third with his head but was thwarted by a fine save, however the Cards next goal was not long in coming. Following another superb Selley free-kick, McAllister rose well and headed the ball back across the goal to find Smith, who stooped low to joyously head home from close range. Given their respective contributions both on and off the pitch this season, the fans delirium that marked both Hutchinson and Smith?s goals, was very well deserved and both were subsequently substituted to huge applause.

Woking almost increased their lead, when following good build up play between Murray and McAllister, Selley fired in a rocket shot from just outside the penalty area, which forced Senior into another excellent save.

With the game almost over, Northwich, to their credit kept battling and after hitting the bar, were rewarded for their efforts with a second goal in the ninetieth minute. There didn?t look to much danger when they were awarded a free-kick wide out on the right, some distance out. However, Townsend had other ideas and hit a magnificent free-kick that bent around the wall and arrowed into the far corner and drew well-deserved applause even from the home fans.

There was still time for Barrett, who?d come on as a late substitute, to almost score a goal that had it gone in, would have rivalled Sole?s recent strike against Forest Green for goal of the season. Picking up the ball in his own half, he proceeded to play a series of one-two?s, that culminated in him finding himself one-on-one with Senior. Unfortunately, he chose to side foot the ball too close to Senior, who guessed correctly and saved well low down to his right. Although the finish didn?t quite match the build-up play, it was a move that will perhaps give everyone some hope that next season Woking, will revert to a more pleasing on the eye, entertaining, passing game that will bring back the missing fans.

Woking: Gindre, Hutchinson (Pearce), MacDonald, Murray, Bunce, Sole, Smith (Barrett), Selley, Lambu (Osano), McAllister, Marum.

Subs not used: Green and Gier.

Attendance: 1753

Sponsor?s MOTM: Hutchinson

My MOTM: Marum, as well as taking his goal well, he was lively and a handful for the Vics defence all afternoon
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