Click here to print

Cards cut down at the Lawn

Ray Avards - 10th December 2014
Forest Green Rovers 2 Woking 1

Vanarama Conference

9th December 2014

Having given away another late goal at the Moss Rose on Saturday, the Cards were desperate to take something back home from this game against Vanarama Conference draw specialists and play-off rivals FGR.

This was the ‘250 years of football history game’ (this being the 125th year of the home club as well as the visitors), as was reflected on BBC Radio Five live after the game. The match itself was less a collision between two proud and age-old sides, more a struggle against the elements for both teams, Forest Green Rovers ultimately using and adapting to the conditions of driving rain and wind the better.

FGR wisely chose to kick with the wind in the first half as the Cards’ contingent looked down on the visitors’ goal. They began with a flurry of corners. The Cards in contrast sought to get their passing game going, forcing a series of free-kicks given away, particularly by Clovis Kamdjo, for the home side, as they came under pressure. Kevin Betsy especially looking to get on the ball wide left of the 4-4-2 set-up, Adam Newton wide right the one change from Macclesfield, replacing Keiran Murtagh. Joey Jones switched to central midfield.

Coles had a free header from the middle of the box saved well by Worner. Real goal chances remained few and far between all evening.

Woking went in front midway through the half when their good work finally paid off as Dean Morgan found space with a clever turn and shot from the edge of the penalty area to fire beyond Russell.

There was little sign of a response from the home side initially. Kamdjo shot wide from the edge of area. But with the wind behind them and the home crowd finding their voice, pressure grew on the Woking rearguard.

Adding width to their attacking, England C international Elliot Frear’s cross caused havoc, being eventually bundled home by Jon Parkin from close range for the equaliser, following a goalmouth scramble. Emboldened, he nearly put Rovers in front with a searing drive from deep on the left that Worner was adjudged to have tipped over, although he did not seem to get a touch.

Woking, under severe pressure now, failed to clear a left-wing corner which fell invitingly in the six-yard box. Kamdjo and Guthrie contrived to get in each other’s way and the shooter put the chance high over the bar.

The tide was turning with the wind as the Cards struggled to knit moves tighter. They conceded another corner. Towering former Card Luke Oliver deflected Marcus Kelly’s perfect in-swinger to the edge of the goal area down into the bottom corner of the net, to give FGR a half-time lead. The Cards sought to counter attack quickly but when Betsy weaved in from the touchline creating space his shot was sliced high and wide.

Half-time: Forest Green Rovers 2 Woking 1

The Cards were making heavy weather of it now as they struggled to get back on terms early in the second half, the home side already aiming to hold on to their lead and live on the counter-attack.

Newton turned on his left foot and delivered a cross that picked out Joey Jones but his shot was prodded without a full weight of shot and Russell was down to gather it in.

For FGR, Kelly‘s left-foot free-kick from a central position was high and wide as far as Worner was concerned. Guthrie skimmed the bar with a raking drive right to left. For the Cards, Payne tried his luck outside the area but his shot bent wide.

Woking were forcing corners, one of which, by Morgan, bent in viciously on the wind from the right and was tipped away and over by Russell. John Goddard hung one up into the wind from the right-hand flag stick but FGR got it away.

Jack Marriot replaced Giuseppe Sole soon after the hour mark but he found himself surrounded whenever he broke forward and too often the ball ran away from the Cards' strikers with the wind. His header from around the penalty spot was not strong enough to really test the keeper.

Josh Payne went close when he received the ball in the inside-right channel with space and drove his shot just wide of the far post with Russell beaten.

Woking then went three at the back, having also replaced Adam Newton as wing-back with Keiran Murtagh coming on into central midfield. Goddard, on for Chris Arthur, raced away on the left and his low cross was deflected narrowly wide into the side netting.

With Joe McNerney playing centre forward as Woking sought to bombard the home goal, James Clarke filled in as sole defender for 5 minutes of added time with Worner sweeping behind him, to stave off several FGR breakaways in the dying embers of a sodden evening. Guthrie did get through, two Woking defenders in his wake, but Worner was out bravely, diving to smother at the striker's feet.

The Cards struggled to assert themselves in this game after a bright start and the windy conditions meant they failed to retain enough possession and work the ball in the second half, having fallen behind.

Forest Green grew in confidence as they found Woking could not seem to hurt them where it mattered, inside their own penalty area. Reliance upon shots from outside the area and the predatory instincts of Dean Morgan and Gez Sole were not enough to create real chances closer in, making the current absence of Scott Rendell, not even on the bench tonight, a real cause for concern. This was a disappointing result for the Cards, coming on the back of the reverse at Macclesfield a few days earlier but the team still remain in the play-off places.

Next up, Woking entertain Eastleigh on Saturday in the FA Trophy.

Forest Green Rovers: Sam Russell, David Pipe, Luke Oliver, Danny Coles, Marcus Kelly, Robert Sinclair, Clovis Kamdjo Sam Wedgbury Elliot Frear (Chris Stokes 90)
Jon Parkin, Kurtis Guthrie

Unused Subs: Lee Hughes, Aarran Racine, Paul White, Louis McGrory

Booked: Robert Sinclair

Goal: Jon Parkin 35, Luke Oliver 42

Woking: Ross Worner, James Clarke, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, Chris Arthur (John Goddard 77), Adam Newton (Keiran Murtagh 80), Josh Payne, Joey Jones, Kevin Betsy, Giuseppe Sole (Jack Marriott 63), Dean Morgan

Unused Subs: Andy Little, Theo Lewis 

Goal: Dean Morgan 22

My MOTM: Dean Morgan, for the individual quality and skill of his goal on a night not really suited to his style of play and ability. 

Attendance: 970