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Brian Caffarey - 11th April 2009


11 April 2009

A wonderfully committed performance saw the Cards gain three priceless points at the New Lawn yesterday afternoon to lift them, temporarily at least, out of the bottom four, as York lost at home surprisingly to Northwich Victoria and, more predictably, Lewes defeated Weymouth.

The Cards lined up in a 4-5-1 formation, no doubt partly prompted by the return of Micah Hyde in midfield but also designed by Graham Baker to disrupt Rovers? rhythm and prevent them from settling into their passing game. And it worked a treat.

There was an air of determination as the team came onto the pitch, roared on by a sizeable and vocal contingent of Woking fans. And there was no doubt, from the moment the whistle blew, which team was ?up? for this game, as Woking seized the initiative, harrying Rovers at every opportunity and looking to attack through Lambu and Rhodes down the flanks. Hyde prompted intelligently in midfield, forming neat triangles with Bozanic and Rhodes down the left, whilst Lambu scampered down the right. Hyde almost opened the scoring in the fifth minute as he curled a free-kick just wide of the post.

Woking continued to press forward and took the lead in the 18th minute before Knowles had even had a shot to save at the other end. Rhodes connected beautifully with a dropping ball to volley it, left-footed, from 20 yards beyond Terry Burton?s reach in the Rovers goal.

Domoraud had an early chance to double the lead but hit wastefully over after being played in by the hardworking Lambu.

Midway through the first half Rovers had their first serious attack. The otherwise impressive Sintim ?sold? himself, allowing the free-scoring Mangan to scamper away but, turning inside, he fired high and wide.

Rhodes shaped up for a repeat performance but was foiled by a Rovers defender and was shortly to be seen limping off with a recurrence of his hamstring injury. Pattison came on, with Lambu switching to the left flank.

Hyde and Bozanic continued to work well in midfield, with the former slipping in Lambu for a weak shot past the post. Pattison had a much better effort a few minutes later, with the ball crashing off a defender for a corner, which, Lorraine, stretching, almost reached.

The Cards? determination was exemplified by two superb tackles by Quamina in midfield as he broke up attempted counter-attacks.

As half-time approached Rovers managed another couple of efforts on goal, neither of which troubled Knowles, whilst Bozanic tried an ambitious chip, which was well off target.

The Cards left the field to warm applause from appreciative Woking fans. It felt like old times.

Half-time: Forest Green Rovers 0 Woking 1

So often this season the Cards have turned up for only half a game but they started the second half in equally determined fashion. Four minutes in, Bozanic was played in by Domoraud, forcing Burton to save with his feet, and, a few minutes later, Domoraud hit another fierce shot just wide.

Rovers, inevitably, began to come to life and it was the turn of the Woking defence to show its mettle. Konan led the way with some crunching, well-timed tackles and Anderson was coolness personified as he hit several excellent clearances down the left flank, turning defence into attack. Sintim and Lorraine were steadfast in the middle.

For a while Rovers buzzed around the Woking area but the Cards offered them few glimpses of goal, with Lorraine blocking one effort and Mangan firing wide with another.

Having weathered this period of pressure, Woking managed to get the ball in the net again in the 69th minute as Domoraud stabbed home from a Lorraine header, but he was adjudged offside.

In the 73rd minute Knowles was called into serious action for the first time, getting down superbly to push a Smith strike away from his left-hand post, with Lorraine throwing himself in to block the second attempt. A minute later, Woking?s keeper made an even better save, somehow clawing Ayres?s header away from the top corner.

By now Rovers had largely abandoned their ?pretty? football and were resorting to hammering balls forward to Palmer and Mangan. This could have been academic, though, if Lambu had not passed up a fine chance in the 78th minute as he spooned Domoraud?s cross over the bar. Then Domoraud looked odds on to score but the ball was spirited away after a goalmouth scramble.

Marum, on for Quamina, broke out of defence in the 84th minute but was caught by a defender as he cut inside. Rovers pressed again, winning several corners, but the Woking defence held firm.

With three minutes of injury time being played, Marum scored a bizarre goal - in as much as it took his team mates and the Woking fans several seconds to realise that the ball was actually in the net! A snap shot from the left of the area took everyone by surprise. From the other end of the pitch, it appeared to be going behind ? not least because Burton didn?t move ? but then the ball was to be seen nestling in the back of the net having crept inside the near post.

The Woking players and fans could relax at last and bathe in the warm after-glow of one of the most satisfying performances of the season. The team left the field to a deserved standing ovation. They have given themselves a lifeline ? but they need to take it in the remaining three games.

Woking: Danny Knowles, Patrice Konan, Dan Sintim, Paul Lorraine, Joe Anderson, Goma Lambu, Bradley Quamina (Liam Marum, 76) , Micah Hyde (Paolo Vernazza, 64), Oliver Bozanic, Alex Rhodes (Matt Pattison, 27), Wilfried Domoraud

Subs not used: Ross Worner, Manny Williams

Booked: Bradley Quamina

Attendance: 1109

My MOTM: Several candidates but, for me, Patrice Konan (pictured) shaded it with his brilliant tackling

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