Brian Caffarey - 30th November 2007
Woking 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
29 November 2007
Phew! Three points at last! The Cards grabbed their first win for nine games in front of the Setanta cameras thanks to a well-taken goal from Matt Pattison in the 20th minute. The result moved Woking up to 16th place, ten points ahead of the relegation zone, although the Cards have played two more games than most other clubs.
Missing Tom Hutchinson, Paul Lorraine and Marvin Morgan, the Cards started with Matt Ruby in central defence, Jerome Maledon on the right of the defence and with Gez Sole partnering Joe Gatting up front.
The opening exchanges were fairly even, with Gez putting a free-kick over the Fleet bar and George Purcell, in a worrying amount of space, firing well wide for the visitors. Matt Pattison had the first of several enterprising runs before the ball ricocheted to Joe Gatting on the edge of the box. Joe, more prominent than in recent games, passed up the opportunity to shoot and the opportunity was lost.
Nick Gindre provided a lighter moment as he attempted to kick the ball out of play to allow treatment for the injured Bradley Quamina, managing to add insult to injury by thwacking it against the prostrate Bradley. There was almost a ?Grays? moment before the ball was ushered into touch.
Ebbsfleet then fashioned the best move of the game so far. Fortunately for the Cards, Stacy Long was well off target. At the other end, Adam Green?s cross found Gez offside, the decision saving Gez?s blushes as he fluffed his shot.
What proved to be the decisive goal arrived in the 20th minute. As Danny Bunce?s cross came in, Adam Green tangled with the Fleet defenders and the cross sailed on to the on-rushing Matt Pattison, who side-footed home with aplomb. As befits such a rare event, the goal was celebrated extravagantly, while the Fleet defenders complained that they had been fouled.
Ebbsfleet nearly levelled the score three minutes later as Nick Gindre managed to palm a shot away, with the Woking defence blocking the second attempt and relieved to see yet a third effort fly high and wide. The Fleet continued to press forward for the equaliser, winning a number of corners. Matt Ruby and colleagues defended resolutely, if a little desperately at times, with quite a few hurried clearances. The pressure was accentuated by the fact that the Woking midfield, with Kevin James less dominant than in earlier games, seemed unable to gain and keep possession. Some relief was provided, however, as the Cards attempted to hit the Fleet on the break, Gez Sole displaying plenty of pace and movement up front.
Woking threatened again in the 38th minute as Gez seized on a through ball in the inside channel. As he was tackled, the ball ricocheted to Adam Green to his left. From a tight angle Adam shot but the keeper parried the ball into the side netting. The home crowd?s spirits were further lifted by two successive corners and a superb cross from Matt Pattison. But it was Ebbsfleet who finished the half on the attack, adding two more corners to their growing tally.
Half-time: Woking 1 Ebbsfleet United 0
The second half started fairly quietly, with the Fleet looking less threatening than they had in the preceding half. However, a poor kick by Nick Gindre, after some fancy footwork, nearly undid all the fine defensive work. The ball was quickly crossed in and Raphael Nade headed home. Fortunately for the Cards, the linesman?s flag was raised for offside.
The game proceeded to open up, becoming almost an ?end to end? affair at times, with both sides trying to hit each other on the break and much possession squandered. Matt Pattison did superbly to rob a Fleet defender out on the Woking right. Cutting inside, he played the ball back to Bradley Quamina just inside the box but Bradley was too slow to react and was quickly dispossessed. Ebbsfleet attacked down both flanks and kept the Woking defence busy, but they rarely threatened the Cards goal as crosses were intercepted relatively easily.
The Cards? attempts to force a second goal foundered several times on a misjudged final ball as various players attempted to slip the ball through a rather static Fleet defence, only to find that a Woking player had wandered into an offside position or was on his heels, not expecting the pass. Adam Green failed to go for a Kevin James pass and then looked equally perplexed as no one anticipated his own through ball.
The game continued at a fairly frantic pace, with substitutions being made by both sides, but with few clear-cut chances. That could not be said, however, of the gift-wrapped chance which substitute Liam Marum spurned with a few minutes to go. The ball ran invitingly into his path off Gez?s heel. With only the keeper to beat he put it wide, although, inexplicably (to me at least), the referee awarded a corner.
The Woking crowd groaned as the assistant referee signalled five minutes of extra time. Could the Cards hang on? Two promising Woking attacks used up some precious time, with Bradley Quamina thwarted and Gez caught offside with another ball slipped through. But Ebbsfleet themselves had one more chance as a shot was deflected wide by one of their own players. The sense of relief and joy around Kingfield was evident as the final whistle blew to seal three valuable points.
This was a much better Woking performance, albeit against an unimpressive Fleet side on the night, with the whole team pulling its weight and looking generally livelier. There were still too many misplaced passes and rather too much hurried clearing of lines, but there were strong displays by the defence, ably led by Matt Ruby, with excellent support from Jerome Maledon and Jay Gasson. Special mention must be made too of Gez Sole. He showed maturity in shouldering the additional responsibility up front, working tirelessly and causing considerable problems for the Fleet defence with his pace and movement. Matt Pattison was on good form too.
Woking: Nick Gindre, Jerome Maledon (Goma Lambu, 74), Matt Ruby. Jay Gasson, Matt Pattison, Bradley Quamina, Kevin James, Adam Green, Danny Bunce, Giuseppe Sole, Joe Gatting (Liam Marum, 77)
Subs not used: Ross Worner, Matt Gray, Izedin Harusha
Booked: Jerome Maledon, Joe Gatting, Goma Lambu
My MOTM: A close call between two home-grown players, Matt Ruby and Gez Sole, but my vote goes narrowly to Matt.