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WOKING 2 NORTHWICH VICTORIA 3

Brian Caffarey - 23rd February 2008

Woking 2 Northwich Victoria 3
23 February 2008

The Cards pulled in a bumper crowd of nearly 2,700 this afternoon, thanks to the ?free entry for U16s? offer. It was good to see the Leslie Gosden Stand looking full. Unfortunately, Frank Gray?s side didn?t produce a performance to match, going down 3-2 to a battling Vics side which had previously won only one league game away from home. The Cards looked to have rescued a point when Liam Marum slotted home in the 88th minute but a thunderous free-kick from Vics? hero, captain Michael Welch, restored their lead in injury time.

Woking started with an attacking line-up, with Gez Sole and Goma Lambu in the wide midfield positions, supporting Marvin Morgan and Jason Norville up front. As expected, Jay Gasson and Bradley Quamina were restored to the defence and midfield respectively, whilst Damian Batt was handed the right back slot and Nick Gindre resumed in goal.

Woking, kicking towards the KRE, went on the attack from the kick-off but had a rude awakening after only six minutes when, in their first foray forward, the Vics grabbed the opening goal. The lively Luke Horrocks won a corner on the Woking right. It was taken short and his deep cross to the far post was met by Michael Welch with an emphatic header.

The Vics continued to look the more cohesive and dangerous side, with the pace of Horrocks and Aaron Burns, coupled with the experience and guile of Lee Steele, always threatening to unhinge the Cards? defence, whilst at the back Welch and Cortez Belle dealt comfortably with the high balls. Joel Byrom fired a fierce effort over the bar and Nick Gindre was just quick enough off his line, in another attack, to grab the ball rather than bring down Burns.

Gradually, the Cards began to gain the initiative. In the 19th minute Marvin Morgan snaked down the by-line. The ball came across to Gez Sole but his first-time shot went straight into the keeper?s midriff. Twelve minutes later it was a foul on Marvin which brought the free-kick from which the Cards? equaliser resulted. From just outside, and to the right of, the Vics? area Gez Sole hit a vicious free-kick which was arrowing just under the bar. The faintest of touches from Marvin?s head deflected it past the Vics? keeper.

Lee Steele almost restored the Vics? lead a minute later as he rounded Damian Batt in the area but, fortunately, the assistant referee signalled for handball. Some comical pinball stuff at the other end opened up a chance for Jason Norville but it was Marvin Morgan, falling backwards, who scooped the ball wide.
The Cards continued to press, with Matt Pattison having a shot blocked and Jay Gasson hitting a defender?s effort well over the bar. The Vics? defence increasingly resorted to spoiling tactics, aided by an indulgent referee, who didn?t book anyone till well into the second half.

It was the Vics who came closest to a second goal before half-time when a quick break down the right opened up a chance for Steele. Nick Gindre did well to take the sting out of his shot and grab the ball just before it crossed the line.

Half-time: Woking 1 Northwich Victoria 1

As in the first half, the Cards came out in attacking vein but it soon fizzled out, with the Vics continuing to look threatening on the break. Byrom tried another ambitious volley from distance, matched by Matt Pattison at the other end. Goma Lambu?s cross found Tom Hutchinson, increasingly thrown forward, but the ball fell nicely for the keeper. The fans? frustration grew as Woking failed to find any rhythm, with Bradley Quamina in particular guilty of some poor distribution. It took the Cards some twenty minutes into the half to fashion a decent move, as Gez Sole slipped a fine ball through to Marvin Morgan but the Vics? keeper was out quickly to foil him. Liam Marum came on for Jason Norville in the 72nd minute but two minutes later the Vics were back in the lead. A ball was played across the Woking area from the Woking left and Lee Steele placed his shot clinically inside Nick Gindre?s right-hand post.

With ten minutes of normal time remaining, Woking finally came to life. Gez Sole ran menacingly but spoiled it with a poor through ball. Goma Lambu, now popping up constantly in the far corner, played in Liam Marum but the latter?s shot was blocked. A minute later there was a mass appeal for handball but the referee waved play on and the move ended with a weak header from Gez Sole. Another Marum effort was blocked but the Vics were not just sitting back in defence. Michael Byrne hit a superb snapshot which had Nick Gindre beaten but which cannoned back off the foot of the post. Matt Gray crossed and Tom Hutchinson came flying in, only to head off the bar. And then the Vics keeper gave the Cards a lifeline in the 88th minute. He fluffed his goal kick straight to Liam Marum. Liam did well to hold off the defenders and slot the ball past the keeper to level the scores at 2-2.

With both sides looking for the winner in injury time, the Vics gained a free-kick wide on the Woking right. Up stepped Michael Welch to hit a ferocious strike into the far corner of the Woking net, past Nick Gindre?s despairing dive. Yet another concerted Woking appeal for a penalty went unanswered before the Vics players and fans began celebrating three hard-earned points.

This was a disappointing performance from the Cards. Too many players seemed to be below par, although things were not made easy by a hard-working and, at times, fairly cynical Vics side. We failed to gain any control in midfield, while we seemed to miss the defensive covering of Matt Ruby at the back. Up front, Jason Norville had some nice touches but lacked aggression.

Woking: Nick Gindre, Damian Batt, Tom Hutchinson, Jay Gasson, Danny Bunce; Goma Lambu, Matt Pattison (Matt Gray, 76 ), Bradley Quamina, Giuseppe Sole; Jason Norville (Liam Marum, 72), Marvin Morgan

Subs not used: Ross Worner, Matt Ruby, Adam Green

Booked: Tom Hutchinson

Attendance: 2672

Sponsors? (First Call Industrial Employment Ltd) MOTM: Goma Lambu

P.S. Don?t forget that the Cards are at home again on Tuesday evening, when they play Weymouth in the Quarter Final of the Setanta Shield. Reduced admission prices apply.
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