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Brian Caffarey - 19th March 2009


Surrey Senior Cup Quarter-Final

19 March 2009

A very young Cards side did extremely well at Champion Hill this evening to take the Club through to the semi-final of the Surrey Senior Cup, where they will be away at Merstham.

Phil Gilchrist had signalled that he would have to put out a youthful side in view of the priority which has to be given to the game at Kidderminster on Saturday and the fact that he already has an extensive injury list. Of the eleven players who started only four (I think) had prior first team experience: Abdou El Kholti, Ross Worner, Charlie Moone and Joe McNerney ? and Charlie?s and Joe?s is very limited. The Dulwich side, according to one of their fans, was about 70% regular first teamers, although they?d played on Tuesday night and had recently lost three of their best players.

The Cards lined up with Ross in goal, a back four of Ashley Lloyd, Justin Clayton, Gavin Miller and Abdou El Kholti; a midfield quartet of Danilo Cadete, Luke Baker, Brad Cann and Anson Cousins, with Charlie Moone and Joe McNerney up front. Abdou and Anson swapped the left-back role and, in the second half, Joe McNerney went into the back four, with Gavin Miller proving a willing runner up front.

The young Cards gave something away in physical presence but nothing in commitment as they harried very effectively and tackled robustly. Cousins had an early chance to show his pace as he tore down the left after a good interception. At the other end, Worner had to hold a cross before being tested on a couple of corners, one of which he seemed a trifle fortunate to clear from a kneeling position, but he did well to tip a free-kick round the post after it came right through the defence. Justin Clayton was already impressing at the heart of the defence, winning most balls in the air and looking athletic and composed on the ground.

On the quarter-hour mark McNerney nearly gave Woking the lead in bizarre circumstances. A Dulwich defender delayed his clearance and only succeeded in drilling against Joe?s backside. The ball ricocheted towards the far post, with the keeper apparently transfixed, and went inches wide. A minute later Moone went on a superb run, beating three or four defenders, before firing in a weak-ish left-foot effort, which nevertheless rebounded off the foot of the post.

Dulwich continued to threaten down the Cards? right, with Scott Simpson shooting across goal. But, although the Cards? defence looked a bit inexperienced, it stood up well and cleared its lines.

Woking took the lead in the 29th minute. A high ball came into the Dulwich area. A defender took it down but turned straight into the lurking El Kholti, who nicked it off his foot and hit a lovely shot with the outside of his left foot past the Dulwich keeper to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

Woking continued to have their share of the game, as El Kholti had another shot blocked and McNerney got a back header in from a free-kick, which, though, didn?t have enough power to trouble the keeper.

Ross had another anxious moment as a Dulwich free-kick went straight across the goal, just missing the far post and, just before half-time, had to punch clear from another free-kick.

Half-time: Dulwich Hamlet 0 Woking 1

Dulwich, not surprisingly, came out in determined fashion and began to have the better of the game territorially, although Woking always looked as though they might hit them on the break, with the speed of Cousins and Cadete, and the running through the middle of Miller, providing ready outlets.

McNerney showed his defensive attributes after five minutes as he positioned himself well on the line to clear a certain goal after Worner had been unable to collect a cross. The Hamlet continued to press down their left but the Woking defence stood firm and, when crosses came in, Clayton or McNerney were usually there to clear decisively.

In the 67th minute, Cadete was unlucky to see his shot rebound off the foot of the far post after he had seized on a loose ball.

As the minutes began to tick away the home side redoubled their efforts to grab the equaliser and their supporters certainly thought they?d gained a penalty in the 75th minute as Simpson appeared to be brought down after Clayton had let the ball bounce and been dispossessed ? about his only mistake of the evening. But the referee waved away the appeals. Dulwich came close too from a corner a couple of minutes later, when a header from a corner was planted just wide.

At the other end, Cousins burst, Agbonlahor-like, out of defence but, having left his marker trailing, shot early and wide.

Moving into the last ten minutes of normal time Simpson turned well on the edge of the area but his shot was straight down Worner?s throat. Woking had to survive a few more corners but ate up the four minutes of added time easily as they kept play mostly near the Dulwich corner flag.

This was a very satisfying win, with an encouraging all-round performance. Everyone worked hard. Moone showed some excellent instinctive touches in knitting play together. Cousins? pace was always a threat. Baker and Cann worked tirelessly in midfield and Clayton and McNerney formed a very solid central defensive pair. Graham Baker must have been very pleased to see his prot?g?s perform so well.

Woking: Ross Worner, Ashley Lloyd, Justin Clayton, Gavin Miller (Rob Carr), Abdou El Kholti, Anson Cousins, Luke Baker (James Snishko), Brad Cann, Danilo Cadete (Josh Coke), Charlie Moone, Joe McNerney

Unused subs: Charlie Turnball and Ali Turpie

Booked: Ashley Lloyd

My MOTM: Justin Clayton

Post-match comments from Phil Gilchrist

I spoke to Phil immediately after the game. He was delighted with the side?s performance. He said that the win hadn?t been unexpected. Although he hadn?t had much choice about the side to put out, he thought that it was good enough to take us through. He particularly mentioned Justin Clayton?s performance in central defence and said that he?d switched Joe McNerney to the back four in the second half to counter Dulwich?s aerial threat.

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