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Brian Caffarey - 1st March 2009


28 February 2009

The Cards failed to find the net for the fifth game running but this was a much more enterprising performance from Phil Gilchrist?s side, taking the game to the league leaders for substantial periods. Micah Hyde?s prompting from midfield was an important influence but it was another new signing, keeper Danny Knowles, whom Woking had to thank in the end for preserving a point with a fantastic injury-time double save.

Woking lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with a back line of Patrice Konan, Paul Lorraine, Dan Sintin and Joe Anderson. The midfield comprised Matt Pattison, Micah Hyde (pictured), Paolo Vernazza and Oliver Bozanic, with Kelvin Bossman and Rob Elvins up front.

With chants of ?Come on, Woking? in Norwegian from the Viking contingent in Moaners? Corner, the Cards attacked the Leslie Gosden Stand end, keeping the Brewers largely penned in their half. Bozanic was quickly into his stride on the left flank, with his clever footwork always posing a threat and winning several corners. Hyde immediately showed that extra bit of class and experience in midfield as he got the ball under control and sought to play his team mates in. At the back Paul Lorraine was his usual indomitable self, snuffing out many of the Brewers? attempted counter-attacks. But there was a sense of purpose and commitment about the whole side as they snapped into tackles and pressed forward.

Rob Elvins got two fine crosses in, one of which glanced off Bossman?s head but ? and this proved to be true for the rest of the game ? found it hard to penetrate the Brewers? area and to test veteran keeper Kevin Poole. At the other end, Knowles too had little to do in this early phase, other than to hold a couple of shots from distance and watch a Goodfellow effort clear the far post.

As the half progressed, Woking continued to do most of the pressing and some decent approach play drew appreciative applause from the Woking faithful but still Poole remained untested. Bossman did well on the half-hour mark to reach the byeline and pull a cross back but no one had managed to keep up with him.

Burton roused themselves in the last ten minutes of the half and began to pose a greater attacking threat. Goodfellow, scorer of two goals in the game at the Pirelli Stadium back in August, fired in a couple of shots, one of which Knowles could only hold at the second attempt. Pearson was also thwarted by an excellent block by Lorraine.

In the 39th minute the Cards came the closest so far to unlocking the Brewers? solid defence as Elvins ? the victim of a couple of subtle tugs on his shirt ? tangled with Poole, with the ball eventually being cleared. However, it was nearly first blood to the visitors when Buxton looped a header onto the top of the bar just before the break.

Half-time: Woking 0 Burton Albion 0

The second half started in a similar vein to the first, with Woking having more of the play territorially but finding it hard to create clear chances. In the 51st minute, though, Hyde slipped the ball wide to Pattison, whose fierce drive was tipped over by Poole.

As the Cards pushed forward, Burton began to look increasingly dangerous on the break, with Gilroy a frequent outlet on the left and Harrad also prominent through the middle. It was the latter who took the ball down quickly on his chest but fired wide. At the other end Hyde?s close control enabled him to wriggle his way into the area before being blocked off.

There was an anxious moment for Cards fans in the 62nd minute when Knowles failed to hold Harrad?s shot but, fortunately, he managed to grab it at the second attempt just as Pearson looked likely to finish off the move.

With the Cards still struggling to open up the Brewers? defence, Gilchrist brought on Marum for Bossman in the 71st minute, but it was Bozanic who threatened as he brought the ball down on his chest and hit a snap volley ? unfortunately, off target. Poole then had to rush out of his area to clear just ahead of Marum. Anderson fired in two fine crosses as the Cards attacked in determined fashion.

But Burton bounced back, winning a free-kick in a central position just outside the area. Luckily for the Cards, McGrath skied it into the Leslie Gosden Stand. More enterprising play from the Cards came to nought as Pattison, about to be replaced by Ledgister, crossed behind the goal.

The first of the two defining moments of the game came in the 85th minute. A characteristic Bozanic shuffle enabled him to gain just enough space to whip in a superb cross, which Hyde, unmarked, headed wide from a few yards out. He will know that he really ought to have scored.

But Burton too looked interested in securing a late winner as Simpson shot straight at Knowles and then Pearson, from another free-kick, drove just over the bar. Injury time then produced the other defining moment of the game. A fast Burton counter-attack left Knowles exposed but he pulled off a magnificent double save when a goal seemed certain.

Woking responded with a final attacking flurry but were not able to profit from a couple of free-kicks which they gained, Poole taking the ball cleanly to bring an end to a fine game.

On paper, holding the league leaders to a 0-0 draw and having more of the play overall ? but not of the chances ? has to be viewed as a laudable performance. But of course the Cards must remain concerned at their inability to find the net. The pressure on them to do so on Tuesday night, against Kidderminster Harriers, is now even greater. But this display ought to have boosted their confidence.

Woking: Danny Knowles, Patrice Konan, Paul Lorraine, Dan Sintin, Joe Anderson, Matt Pattison (Joel Ledgister, 77), Micah Hyde, Paolo Vernazza, Oliver Bozanic, Kelvin Bossman (Liam Marum, 71), Rob Elvins

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Michael Kamara, Charlie Moone

Booked: Rob Elvins

Attendance: 1813

Sponsor?s (Norwegian Woking FC Supporters? Club and the Beer O?Clock Crew) MOTM: Paul Lorraine

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