Brian Caffarey - 31st July 2007
Woking 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 1
1 August 2007
Cards fans will have gone home from Kingfield this evening in a much more optimistic frame of mind after a fine performance, especially in the second half, against a strong Brighton and Hove Albion side. Giuseppe Sole?s penalty in the second half gave Woking a richly-deserved equaliser after Tommy Elphick?s header had given the Seagulls the lead in the 13th minute.
Woking were missing Tom Hutchinson at the back. Lining up in a 4-4-2 formation, the back line from right to left comprised Matt Ruby, Paul Lorraine, Jay Gasson and Danny Bunce; the midfield quartet were Goma Lambu, Matt Pattison, Matt Gray and Giuseppe Sole; Marvin Morgan and Michael Charles were the two strikers.
Matt Ruby, who covered and tackled superbly all evening, was quickly into action with a clearing header as Albion pressed forward, with Dean Cox prompting from midfield. The Cards fashioned a nice move in the 8th minute as the hard-working Goma Lambu put Michael Charles through with a clever reverse pass, but Michael chose to backheel the ball out wide instead of crossing and the move broke down.
A poor Paul Lorraine header brought another fine tackle from Matt Ruby as he timed his intervention to perfection on the by-line. The nippy Jake Robinson, a constant menace, fired in the first of his many efforts. Nick Gindre did well to tip the ball over the bar but the reprieve was brief. In the 13th minute the lanky Tommy Elphick seemed to have plenty of room as he headed a cross from the right wing into the Woking net to give the Seagulls a 1-0 lead.
The Cards? midfield began to put a few promising moves together. Moving Matt Gray inside seemed to produce more grit in the centre of midfield; Matt Pattison showed again that he?s got the ability to slalom past defenders and create openings; and Giuseppe Sole (pictured) moved powerfully with the ball and worked hard across the line. However, Marvin Morgan and Michael Charles were well marshalled by an experienced Albion defence and did not get much of a look-in.
A strong run out of defence by Gez Sole produced a corner but Albion continued to press forward, with several goal attempts, notably from Dean Cox and Jake Robinson. On the half-hour mark Matt Pattison instigated a fine Woking move, riding tackles and spraying the ball out wide to Goma Lambu, who forced a corner. But the Seagulls exerted most of the pressure, winning several corners and nearly grabbing a second goal with a powerful header from Dean Hammond.
Half-time: Woking 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 1
Adam Green replaced Danny Bunce at the start of the second half. Woking had a close shave as a chipped ball into the box found Nick Gindre in nomansland, but as the ball was played across goal it was scrambled away by the Woking defence. After that early scare the Cards began to assert themselves as Marvin Morgan and Michael Charles at last began to make some headway. With five minutes gone, a nice interchange between Matt Pattison and Marvin Morgan set Michael Charles free in the inside channel. Michael?s crisp shot was well saved by Michel Kuipers, diving low to his right. But a few minutes later Michael was bundled over just inside the area and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Matt Gray and Gez Sole seemed not to agree on who should take it, but Gez won that battle and proceeded to thump the ball under the keeper?s body to put the Cards level.
Michael Charles was immediately replaced by David Shin, who again impressed with his good touch and constructive use of the ball. Gez Sole moved up front to partner Marvin Morgan, with David hugging the left wing. Woking continued to make most of the running. Gez Sole went on a powerful burst down the right, skipping over a tackle on the byline but the ball was pulled back to no-one. A few minutes later he produced a Bergkamp-style flick over his head but was just crowded out before he could unleash a shot. (By this stage any watching League scouts would have had his name firmly in their notebooks!)
Albion?s attacks were more intermittent than in the first half but Alex Revell, on as a substitute for Baz Savage, produced two dangerous headers and Jake Robinson continued to try his luck whenever the goal was in range. At the other end Matt Pattinson made space for himself and shot over the bar, whilst another Woking attack produced virtual panic in the Albion defence as Michel Kuipers found himself stranded. Gez Sole turned it on once more, dropping his shoulders and gliding past two or three defenders before letting rip with a rasping drive which stung Kuipers?s fingers. As the last ten minutes approached Matt Pattison was once more at the heart of a fine Woking move, involving Gez Sole and Goma Lambu, with Gez?s shot deflected for a corner.
Jerome Maledon came on for Matt Gray but did not really have a chance to get in the game. Jake Robinson must have thought that he?d finally got the goal his efforts deserved in the 83rd minute but Paul Lorraine popped up on the line to hack the ball away. Woking continued to play some attractive and effective football, with David Shin providing a useful outlet on the left flank, before Mr Singh called time on an entertaining encounter.
Woking: Nick Gindre; Matt Ruby, Paul Lorraine, Jay Gasson, Danny Bunce (Adam Green, 45); Goma Lambu, Matt Pattison, Matt Gray (Jerome Maledon, 81) Giuseppe Sole; Marvin Morgan, Michael Charles (David Shin, 53)
Unused subs: Ross Worner, Dean Lovegrove, Joe McNerny, Kevin McLaren