WOKING 0 KETTERING TOWN 1
14 February 2009
This always looked as though it was going to be a difficult match from which to collect three points, especially in view of the Poppies? strong defensive record, and so it proved. Although the Cards were never out of the game, once they went 1-0 down in the 20th minute, it was bound to be an uphill struggle. Phil Gilchrist?s side worked hard but, with the exception of the impressive Oliver Bozanic in midfield, lacked the guile to unsettle the visitors? defence. Fortunately, defeats for the other relegation- threatened sides left the Cards no worse off at the end of the day but, with three away games now on the trot followed by the visit of league leaders, Burton Albion, it?s going to be a tough fight for BSP survival.
Rob Elvins, making his debut for the Cards, partnering Wilfried Domoraud up front, got no change out of the formidable central defensive pairing of the powerful and vastly experienced Guy Branston, the game?s dominant figure, and the colossal Exodus Geohaghon. The Woking midfield comprised Joel Ledgister, Bradley Quamina, Oliver Bozanic, Matt Pattison and Abdou El Kholti, with a back three of Michael Kamara, Colin Miles and Patrice Konan, and Simon Eastwood in goal. Injuries to other players, including Paul Lorraine, forced Phil Gilchrist to give places on the bench to two youth team players, Joe McNerney and Matt Powell.
The Cards made a very bright start, creating almost as many chances in the first minute as they made in the rest of the half. Rob Elvins blocked a clearance, with the ball running into his strike partner?s path in the box. Unfortunately, it was on Wilfried?s less-favoured right foot and a moment?s delay saw the ball ushered away for a corner. That was half-cleared out to Matt Pattison on the edge of the area. His fine volley was tipped onto the bar by the Poppies? keeper, Lee Harper. A second corner produced another effort from Pattison but this was blocked.
Kettering had the ball in the net three minutes later from a long throw-in but, in spite of their protests, the ?goal? was disallowed. After a couple of weak shots at either end, from Domoraud and Richard Graham, Bozanic was in the thick of the action again as his free-kick was headed away for a corner. This time it was cleanly taken, though, by Harper. Exodus then launched an exocet, as he hurled the ball from the touchline straight into the arms of a somewhat startled Simon Eastwood. A nice Woking move across the face of the box led to a foul on Pattison, with Bozanic?s free-kick not far off target.
A promising start was soon put into a different perspective, though, by what proved to be the winning goal from the visitors in the 20th minute. A powerful cross was fired in left to right. It looked as if it was too deep but it was nodded back across. Colin Miles and Simon Eastwood appeared to hesitate and Jean-Paul Marna, who brought the Poppies all three points in the away fixture, fired home just inside the post.
Most of the Cards? hopes of a come-back seemed to rest on Bozanic, who seemed to be popping up all over the field, his quick feet always looking to create an opening. He fired well over the bar, from a difficult angle, after two back-headers from a Matt Pattison throw had provided a half-chance.
But Kettering nearly doubled their lead in the 35th minute when, from a free-kick, Branston, unchallenged, thundered a header against the bar. Folllowing a decent run and cross by Joel Ledgister, it was Branston who threatened again three minutes later as his shot was blocked by a brave dive by Michael Kamara, who was being given a tough time by Richard Graham on the Woking right flank.
Rob Elvins came close to getting off the mark in the 41st minute when he managed to escape his defender for once to head narrowly over from a Bozanic corner.
Halft-time: Woking 0 Kettering Town 1
An uncharacteristically poor free-kick by Bozanic was the prelude to a mainly muted second-half display by the Cards. They had Simon Eastwood to thank for keeping them in the game as, with only five minutes gone, he pulled off two excellent blocks as Artus and Potter sought to extend the Poppies? lead.
The Cards had a better spell as Ledgister did well to get to the bye-line and cross but Elvins got there a fraction too late as Harper scooped the ball up at his near post. Bozanic picked up a loose ball and shot wide and then Matt Pattison missed the best chance of an equaliser. A through ball found Elvins several yards clear of the Kettering defence but still onside. His ?pull back? found its way to Pattison but he shot left-footed into the side netting as Harper came out to narrow the angle.
Thereafter the Cards found it difficult to create anything by way of scoring opportunities, with moves breaking down all too frequently, and it looked increasingly inevitable that Kettering would walk away with all three points. Hopes were raised in the 62nd minute as Bozanic showed great skill to beat two players in the box but the shouts of ?hand ball? as he crossed were voiced more in hope than in expectation.
Kettering went close again in the 73rd minute when a Geohaghon header was cleared off the line by Kamara. Ten minutes later substitute Chris Beardsley put the ball just wide after Eastwood had come out to challenge him. But, for the Cards, the game petered out, with the side unable to launch even a last-ditch assault.
Woking: Simon Eastwood, Michael Kamara, Colin Miles, Patrice Konan, Joel Ledgister, Bradley Quamina, Oliver Bozanic, Matt Pattison (Liam Marum, 81), Abdou El Kholti, Rob Elvins, Wilfried Domoraud
Subs not used: Ross Worner, Joe McNerney, Matt Powell, Charlie Moone
Sponsor?s (Steve Hill) MOTM: Oliver Bozanic (pictured)