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Brian Caffarey - 18th October 2008


18 October 2008

The indomitable Paul Lorraine ? once again the Cards? best performer in a stuttering away performance ? rescued a point for Woking with a late equaliser at a sparsely-attended New Rec this afternoon. The point lifted the Cards out of the relegation zone on goal difference once more.

Woking were missing the suspended Tom Hutchinson and Bradley Quamina and there was no sign of Goma Lambu, presumably injured. New loan signing, 18 year-old Daniel Spence, made his debut at left-back in a 4-1-4-1 line up, comprising Lenny Pidgeley, Patrice Konan, Paul Lorraine, Colin Miles, Daniel Spence; Paolo Vernazza; Matt Pattison, Giuseppe Sole, Liam Marum, Abdou El Kholti; Joel Ledgister.

On a bright afternoon both sides tried to keep the ball on the ground and play some football but it was soon clear that both lacked a cutting edge. For Grays, the main threat came down their left from Ishmael Welsh and Sean Rigg, whilst for the Cards Giuseppe Sole and Matt Pattison fashioned a few promising moves down the right but the final ball was often poor, over-hit or, even worse, landing behind the goal. Daniel Spence made an encouraging start, getting in some decent tackles and distributing the ball intelligently.

Neither side really threatened until the 20 minute mark approached. Joel Ledgister then nearly latched onto a quick volleyed through ball from Patrice Konan but his shot was partially blocked by a defender. Lenny Pidgeley, at about the same time, had to make his first save from a weak effort.

Woking continued to develop a few promising moves from midfield but they petered out near the Grays box, as the ball was played wide and momentum lost. In the 38th minute Giuseppe Sole found himself in space as the Grays defence retreated but failed to connect cleanly. Sean Rigg missed a much better chance for the Blues, slicing the ball wide from ten yards out.

It was no surprise at all that half-time was reached with neither side having hit the target.

Half-time: Grays Athletic 0 Woking 0

Woking fans were encouraged by the appearance of Wilfried Domoraud after the break, replacing Matt Pattison. But it was Grays who immediately took the initiative. Welsh got the better of Konan and his centre eventually found its way to Barry Cogan on the other side of the Woking box. He had time to steady himself and lash the ball into the far corner to give Grays the lead.

Woking certainly looked more threatening with Domoraud up front, as he began to win the ball in the air and bring it down. But there was little by way of effective support from Ledgister out right or El Kholti on his left.

The Cards could have found themselves further behind had Rigg not miscued as another cross came in from Welsh. At the other end, Sole, bursting into the box, was foiled by a well-timed tackle and then Domoraud, in the 58th minute, missed a glorious chance to grab the equaliser. A Grays defender made a hash of an attempted interception of Ledgister?s cross. Domoraud, to his surprise, found himself three yards out, with only the keeper to beat. But, as the ball came down, he lashed it over the bar.

Grays, already heartened by their goal, pressed forward. The gangly Simon Thomas, following an excellent one-two, drew a fine save from Pidgeley, diving to his left and taking the ball cleanly. The Grays fans appealed vociferously for a penalty as Paul Lorraine, in the thick of things, foiled another attack.

Woking put together one of the best moves of the game, switching the ball out to Joel Ledgister on the right, but he hesitated, played the ball back and it was soon lost. Phil Gilchrist brought on Manny Williams for Sole and, almost inevitably, Woking then gained a free-kick on the edge of the Grays area. Miles?s strike was deflected, with the Grays keeper then tipping the ball over the bar. Charlie Moone came on for El Kholti but, although Woking tried to push forward at every opportunity, it was hard to see where a goal might come from.

The Cards were fortunate that Jonny Dixon didn?t put the game beyond their reach, as he scampered clear in the 82nd minute, blazing well over the bar.

Woking?s salvation eventually came, with four minutes to go, from a free-kick won by a brave challenge from Daniel Spence. Vernazza floated the ball to the far post and there was Paul Lorraine stooping to head home for the equaliser. A minute later he was blocking a dangerous effort at the other end and then heading clear as Dixon got the better of Miles down Grays? right.

The final whistle brought relief at a point gained but you felt that there were three points there for the taking this afternoon if the Grays defence could have been put under more consistent, and effective, pressure.

Woking: Lenny Pidgeley, Patrice Konan, Paul Lorraine, Colin Miles, Daniel Spence, Paolo Vernazza, Matt Pattison (Wilfried Domoraud, 46), Giuseppe Sole (Manny Williams, 66), Liam Marum, Adbou El Kholti (Charlie Moone, 74), Joel Ledgister.

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Phil Gilchrist

Booked: Joel Ledgister

Attendance: 581

MOTM: Paul Lorraine (pictured)

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