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Woking 1 Rushden and Diamonds 1

Brian Caffarey - 16th August 2007

Woking 1 Rushden and Diamonds 1
11 August 2007

This was a very encouraging performance from Frank Gray?s young Woking side, full of commitment and endeavour, and with some pleasing football to boot, and illuminated by a superb solo strike from the magnificent Marvin Morgan. Frank must be proud of his team?s display.

No matter how awful the summer has been you can be sure that the opening day of the season will be baking hot ? and so it proved again today, as Kingfield sweltered in the unaccustomed sunshine.

Woking lined up in a formation which seemed to veer between 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 (I?m not good on formations!), with Matt Ruby in particular getting forward down the right flank. Inside him were Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson and Jay Gasson; the midfield comprised Matt Gray, Bradley Quamina, Matt Pattison and Danny Bunce; and Marvin Morgan and Giuseppe Sole roamed up front.

The Cards started in a sprightly fashion, with the front pair interchanging passes well to create several promising attacks. The third minute saw Giuseppe lining up for one of his trade-mark free-kicks but it struck the wall. A few minutes later another fine exchange between the two saw Marvin Morgan unleash a first-time strike which crashed into the side netting.

In the meantime, though, the Woking defence had been called into action too, with Nick Gindre having to deal with a curling effort and Tom Hutchinson clearing several crosses. A fine Rushden move then saw Nick leap to tip a header from Jon Challinor over the bar. Rushden continued to come more into the game and threw in a number of crosses but Nick Gindre and the Woking defence held firm, assisted by Matt Pattison and Bradley Quamina, who both got in important blocks and tackles. The Cards were beginning to be forced back, though, and were also finding that they were the victim of some debatable offside decisions when they did get the ball forward. Midway through the half, however, Marvin Morgan chased down a long kick from Nick Gindre, beating the keeper to the ball and getting in a shot which was deflected by a defender?s head. He threatened again a few minutes later with an enterprising run, which was only halted by a foul from Wayne Hatswell, which earned him a booking. A long throw from Matt Ruby, who has clearly assumed this mantle from Neil Smith, then caused confusion in the Diamonds? box and Matt himself got in a dangerous cross from the byline.

Rushden continued to search too for the opening goal and it nearly arrived in the 32nd minute when Nick Gindre had to repeat his acrobatics to tip over a clever lob from Tom Shaw after a defence-splitting move down Woking?s left flank. Another good opportunity for the Diamonds was only foiled by a superb block from Matt Pattison as Michael Rankine pulled the trigger. At the other end, promising moves from Danny Bunce, who went past several players, and Marvin Morgan were spoiled by poor final balls.

Half-time: Woking 0 Rushden and Diamonds 0

After an encouraging first half display, with some excellent defending, the question was whether the Cards could create a few more chances. They started brightly, with Matt Pattison getting forward more and playing in Giuseppe Sole down the left. He crossed to the penalty spot but the onrushing Marvin Morgan was adjudged to have fouled the defender. Another forceful run from Marvin opened up a great chance for Matt Gray or Giuseppe Sole if only Marvin had been able to get the ball across to them, but, frustratingly, it was intercepted on its way. What followed, though, in the 49th minute eclipsed all thoughts of what might have been. Picking up the ball on the left, Marvin muscled his way past several challenges outside the box, appeared to have been halted in the area but somehow recovered to evade another defender and slam the ball past Paul Bastock to score one of the best solo efforts I?ve seen at Kingfield.

Unfortunately, the joy was short-lived for two minutes later the Diamonds had levelled the score. The Woking defence blocked several attempts on goal but the ball always seemed to cannon back to an opposition player and Curtis Woodhouse eventually managed to force the ball home from close range.

Marvin Morgan and Giuseppe Sole combined as the latter powered towards the area but his left-foot shot was deflected wide by a defender. A second corner resulted and Bradley Quamina hit a decent effort with the outside of his right foot. Rushden pressed forward for a second goal but were thwarted by some terrific defending from the back four, whilst Nick Gindre was quickly off his line to block another goal attempt.

Cards? fans hopes were raised as keeper Bastock dropped the ball under challenge from Tom Hutchinson but no one was able to get the shot in. Further Rushden pressure was relieved by another powerful, mazy run from Marvin Morgan, but Rushden came back as the ball pinged several times across the face of the Woking goalmouth.

Michael Charles came on for Giuseppe Sole in the 76th minute, but it was Matt Gray who provided most of the attacking threat in the last quarter of an hour, firing in two excellent efforts from outside the area: the first, a low drive, was well held by Bastock but the second went just past the post. The final throw of the dice fell to Matt Pattison in injury time. Michael Charles laid the ball sweetly back to him in the box but he lashed the ball wide.

Those who feared that Frank Gray?s young and inexperienced side might be swept away by a strong Rushden and Diamonds outfit must have been very heartened by the evidence that this team ? which can surely only get better ? has the ability to cope at this level. There was terrific commitment from the whole side, with some first-rate defending, and, on this evidence, Marvin Morgan is someone who is going to cause a lot of headaches for opposition defences. Although he must be some 6? 3?, he poses the greatest threat with the ball at his feet. It doesn?t quite look as though he?s got the ball under control but he manages to juggle it between both feet and his angular frame and pace make him hard to dispossess once he?s in flight. He just needs a bit more support up front to help create a few more openings.

Woking: Nick Gindre, Matt Ruby, Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson; Matt Gray, Matt Pattison, Bradley Quamina, Danny Bunce; Giuseppe Sole (Michael Charles, 76), Marvin Morgan

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Adam Green, Goma Lambu, David Shin

Booked: Bradley Quamina

Attendance: 1576

Sponsors? MOTM: Paul Lorraine

My MOTM: Marvin Morgan
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