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Goddard stars on Woking return as Swindon claim victory

Glen Harrington - 29th July 2017

Goddard stars on Woking return as Swindon claim victory Woking 0 Swindon Town 3
Pre-Season Friendly
29th July 2017

The Cards’ pre-season campaign ended in defeat at home to Swindon Town this afternoon as second-half goals from Luke Norris, Dion Conroy, and former Woking favourite John Goddard ensured victory for the League 2 side.

Things might have turned out better for the home side had they taken advantage of one of a number of opportunities earlier in the game, the best of which saw striker Inih Effiong clip the post just moments into the second-half, but ultimately it was the visitors who turned on the style in the closing stages to ensure a flattering margin of victory.

Despite the final scoreline, Woking boss Anthony Limbrick will no doubt have been pleased with much of what he saw from his side in the first hour, in which the Cards more than matched their Football League opponents.

Playing in an already familiar looking 4-2-3-1 formation, the hosts started with Nathan Baxter in goal; a back four of new signing Louis Ramsay, captain Richard Orlu, Josh Staunton, and Nathan Ralph; a midfield pairing of Joey Jones and Chez Isaac; with Fabio Saraiva, Charlie Carter, and Bobson Bawling playing behind lone frontman Effiong. There was also a welcome return for Jordan Wynter, who was among the substitutes having not featured since the Leatherhead game.

An evenly fought first-half ensued with chances for both teams. Swindon edged the game early on, keeping the ball well and pinning the Cards back in their own half, but the presence of Effiong up front kept the visitor’s centre-back pairing occupied as the home side looked to play on the counter. Indeed, it was Woking’s number nine who had the best of the early chances, first shooting wide after good work on the edge of the area from Isaac and Saraiva, before testing Town goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux with a shot from a tight angle.

With Goddard starting the game on the bench, it was another former Woking player that caught the eye for Swindon in the first-half, former academy defender Chris Hussey. The full-back, on loan from Sheffield United, caused plenty of problems down the left-hand side and striker Harry Smith should have done better after getting on the end of his excellent cross just past the half-hour mark.
However, it was Woking who finished the half the stronger, as Isaac forced a decent save with a shot from long range, before Bawling jinxed his way into the Swindon penalty area and drove the ball across goal – Carter just failing to connect with an audacious back-heel attempt from a couple of yards out.

Half-time: Woking 0 Swindon Town 0

After coming close just before the break, the Cards also could have scored straight after the interval, with Effiong powering his way into the box and working room for a shot – only to see his low drive strike the foot of the left-hand upright and bounce clear, Bawling firing over from the rebound.

Swindon brought on Goddard five minutes into the second-half and it was, ultimately, his introduction that changed the game in their favour. Playing on the left wing up against trialist Matt Young, on in place of Ramsay at half-time, the midfielder was quickly into the thick of the action – cutting inside time and time again to create opportunities for both himself and his teammates – Baxter doing well to save twice from Town’s number ten in quick succession.

With Goddard, ably supported by Hussey, running rampant down the Swindon left, a goal didn’t feel too far away. It eventually came just past the hour mark when Hussey’s cross was controlled in the penalty area by Luke Norris and the striker held off the challenge of both Woking centre-backs before smashing the ball past the goalkeeper.

The Cards responded by introducing academy players Ivan Nsimbi and Declan Appau in place of Bawling and Carter. The pair’s pace and energy quickly paid dividends and the Cards might have levelled when Appau unleashed a stinging drive from the edge of the area, only to see his effort acrobatically pushed away by Vigouroux.

But just as the home side looked to be gearing up to push for an equaliser, a second Swindon goal ended the contest: Conroy powering a fine header into the Woking net from Hussey’s corner.

Two then quickly became three as, within five minutes, Goddard found himself in on goal after a lovely through ball from Norris and nonchalantly lifted the ball over an onrushing Baxter and into the net – quickly waving away the accolades of his teammates as a mark of respect for his former side.

The two late goals ultimately took the gloss off what had been another encouraging performance from this new-look Woking side, who will no doubt be disappointed by the end result after some very promising signs earlier in the game. After seeing their side suffer defeat for the first time, it will now be up to Limbrick and his assistant Jason Goodliffe to ensure that heads don’t drop, and that the team go into next week’s opening league match against Gateshead in a positive mindset.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Louis Ramsay (Matt Young 46), Nathan Ralph (Josh Wynter 80), Josh Staunton, Richard Orlu, Joey Jones, Chez Isaac (Jake Eales 83), Fabio Saraiva, Charlie Carter (Declan Appau 66), Bobson Bawling (Ivan Nsimbi 66), Inih Effiong.
Subs not used: Luke Sheldrick

Goals: None

Bookings: None

Swindon Town: Lawrence Vigouroux, Ben Purkiss (Trialist 60), Chris Hussey, Olly Lancashire (Chris Robertson 60), Dion Conroy, James Dunne, Conor Thomas (John Goddard 50), Amine Linganzi, Donal McDermott (James Brophy 73), Luke Norris, Harry Smith (Paul Mullin 46).

Suns not used: Will Henry, Tom Smith, Ellis Iandolo

Goals: Luke Norris 66, Dion Conroy 80, John Goddard 83

Bookings: None

Attendance: 777

My MOTM: Inih Effiong – looked a handful early on, despite missing the creativity of Joe Ward behind him, and created several decent opportunities for himself as the game went on. He grew more isolated in the second-half as Swindon turned the screw, but he continued to work hard until the final whistle.
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