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Stalemate at The Shay

Ian Toft - 11th November 2017

Stalemate at The Shay FC Halifax Town 0 Woking 0
Vanarama National League
11th November 2017

Woking ground out a goalless draw in West Yorkshire to earn a valuable point in the Vanarama National League. In a game of very few clear chances the Cards needed to be resilient throughout to nullify the threat posed by FC Halifax Town and they kept to their task of keeping a clean sheet with reasonable ease. On another day Anthony Limbrick might have been hopeful for better opportunities to score at the other end but on this day it was largely not to be.

The afternoon began in a sombre mood with a moment of remembrance and reflection to thank and pay our tributes to the brave servicemen and women who serve and have served in the Armed Forces all over the world, both in wartime and peace. In addition to a two minute silence the Last Post was performed, all impeccably observed by the crowd of 1,710.

Anthony Limbrick made two changes to the side that had previously earned a draw with League One Bury in the FA Cup with Kane Ferdinand returning from suspension and a recall for Declan Appau in place of Chez Isaac and Joe Ward. Woking attacked the South Stand in the first half in cold, crisp and clear conditions.

An early tussle led to Charles-Cook a little shaken up which resulted in a brief check up from the Cards physio. Ralph floated the resulting free-kick into the box though it was comfortably cleared by the home team.

The Shaymen got their first opportunity in the fifth minute when a cross into the box couldn’t be controlled by Orlu. The ball ran through to Denton who appeared to be clean through. However his shot was comfortably saved by Baxter.

Kane Ferdinand was initially sent clean through but was tracked back and sent wide. Though he successfully managed to control the ball his cross was too deep and sailed over the rushing pack.

MacDonald was sent down the right wing for the Shaymen and as he surged forward Ralph mistimed his attempted tackle bringing down his opponent on the edge of the box and earning the first booking of the game. The free kick was sung in by Middleton which found its way through to Denton. However the Halifax striker found the ball stuck under his feet and couldn’t get a clean shot away.

A few minutes later the home side were aggrieved by a call from the officials when Denton’s nod down appeared to send Batty clear. However play was halted when the linesman spotted that he had ran on to the pass from an offside position.

Middleton played an accurate pass forward for the home side that appeared to cut out a number of Cards looking to intercept. However the weight of the pass narrowly eluded McManus who looked best placed to collect clean through.

One last first half opportunity for the home side came and went when a superb whipped cross from MacDonald from the right eluded all of the Woking defence and Denton was left with a free header at the back post after he escaped his marker. However his header cleared the crossbar much to the frustration of the home supporters.

Half Time: FC Halifax Town 0 - 0 Woking

Like the first half the second again began with a heavy challenge on a Cards player. This time it was Orlu who needed a little time to be escorted from the field for some treatment.

However the second half would begin slowly with no chances of note for at least the first ten minutes of the half. When some action did arrive it was Charles Cook who sought to grab the impetus. After collecting deep in midfield his mazy run took him out wide to the left. Having stepped past two attempted tackles he earned a corner for the visitors. Unfortunately the next play was comfortably collected by Johnson in front of the Halifax goal.

Middleton collected a loose ball in the centre of the park for the Shaymen and laid on a quick through ball over the Cards backline for MacDonald to chase. However his first time effort nestled straight into the arms of Baxter.

Soon after Tomlinson had replaced Batty for the home side, Ferdinand collected a pass to advance down the right. A heavy challenge by Garner on the edge of the box resulted in a minor alteration between the two players resulting in referee Peter Gibbons having to step in and mediate. After a stern talking to for both players and the award of a free kick to the Cards, the resulting play was comfortably defended by Halifax.

A Josh Wilde cross in to the Cards penalty area from deep out to the left should have been comfortably dealt with by Wynter. However he was eluded by the bounce which presented Denton with a clean shot at goal. However his powerful strike was hit wide of the far post.

Having been brought on to add some impetus to the Cards attack, Joe Ward collected from 25 yards out and with a quick turn shot low to the far post. Scrambling across his goal, Johnson could only get down to parry the strike around his post for a corner. From the resulting cross Wynter collected just inside the penalty area but his shot was high and wide.

In the dying stages the home side had a couple of penalty claims for handball waved away by the referee and had one final opportunity when a fierce shot from Middleton was bravely deflected away from goal by Orlu. However throughout the afternoon it was apparent that neither side posed any great ability to get a clear shot on the other’s goal.

In reality this had been a poor game of football with both teams comfortably able to handle the threat posed by one another. The reality is that little from this game would be given consideration for any scrapbook or end of season highlights reel. Nevertheless this has historically been the sort of game that Cards fans will know that they could have lost and both they and Anthony Limbrick will be pleased that the team stuck to their task to come away with a valuable draw.

Woking now turn their attention to another ground just 23 miles from The Shay when they return north to Gigg Lane on Tuesday for the FA Cup first round replay with Bury. After a solid showing in the first game Anthony Limbrick will be keen to see the task through and earn a place in the second round of the competition.

Woking: Nathan Baxter, Matt Young, Richard Orlu (c), Jordan Wynter, Nathan Ralph, Joey Jones, Kane Ferdinand, Declan Appau (Chez Isaac 56), Regan Charles-Cook, Inih Effiong, Jamie Philpot (Joe Ward 68)

Unused subs: Fabio Saraiva. Lazar Stojsavljevic, Sam Mason

Yellow Cards: Ralph

FC Halifax Town: Sam Johnson, Josh Wilde (George Waring 88), Matthew Brown (c), Scott Garner, Nathan Hotte, Tom Denton, Scott McManus, Josh MacDonald, Harry Middleton, Josh Clackstone, Daniel Batty (Ben Tomlinson 88)

Unused subs: Tom Nicholson, Connor Oliver, Danny Clarke

Yellow Cards: Wilde

My MOTM: Joey Jones: On a day of so few chances and where there was little to choose between many Cards performers, the defensive midfielder gets the acclaim. The importance of his ability to root out the potential danger and be there to close down to win back possession cannot be underestimated. Without this, Halifax may well have enjoyed more success in pressurising the Cards backline.

Referee: Peter Gibbons

Attendance: 1,710
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