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Brian Caffarey - 18th April 2009


18 April 2009

With this draw, the Cards slipped back into the bottom four and the odds are heavy now that this is where they will finish as other clubs, midweek, take advantage of their game (s) in hand. With 10 minutes to go and the Cards 2-1 up, and most other latest scores in our favour, it was looking hopeful but the Stags? tactic of trying to plant the ball on Robert Duffy?s head at the far post finally paid off to level the scores.

On a lovely sunny afternoon Graham Baker chose an attacking line-up with, from right to left, Ledgister, Marum and Domoraud up front. There was no Micah Hyde in midfield, however. Tom Hutchinson was on the bench, ready to be thrown on up front if, as it turned out, we needed a final, desperate push for a goal.

It was virtual one-way traffic in the first half as the Cards, kicking towards the Leslie Gosden Stand, sought to make their territorial advantage pay. But there were early signs that they might struggle to do so, as passes didn?t quite find their man and few genuine chances were created. A fresh breeze and a hard pitch didn?t help in keeping the ball on the ground. In the opening phase Woking?s best attempts on goal were from Domoraud: a header over the bar and a well-struck effort on target from wide left. But the angle for the shot was always too tight to really trouble the Stags? keeper.

Woking continued to press forward but, frustratingly, moves tended to break down at key moments or a defender would intervene. Neither Ledgister on the right flank or Marum in the middle were able to make much impact, although both were in the game, and Domoraud, out left, was not able to make much headway either. Vernazza, playing in an advanced role, prompted well but hadn?t the pace to get into dangerous positions.

In the 21st minute the Stags? substitute, Aaron O?Connor, showed much more enterprise in the Stags? first serious attack, lashing the ball against the angle of post and bar: a warning to the Cards that they could be made to pay if they didn?t make their possession count.

Domoraud discomforted the Stags? keeper as both challenged for a Vernazza cross and Ledgister put in a dangerous low cross before, in the 35th minute, the Cards came closest yet to opening their account. From a Bozanic free-kick Domoraud got the faintest of touches on a swivelled back header, with the ball bouncing off the foot of the post.

Woking continued to make nearly all the running but, in the 41st minute, fell behind to a well-taken goal from Robert Duffy. A Ryan Williams corner was played back in by O?Connor; the ball ricocheted to Duffy and he reacted superbly with an overhead kick to plant the ball in the net.

Normally, Woking struggle to equalise, once behind, but on this occasion they fashioned a very quick response. Another fine Bozanic corner was half-cleared but as the ball was played back in, Colin Miles, almost on the line, executed a deft back heel to divert it into the net.

There was still time for Marum to head tamely wide and for Konan to foil O?Connor with a superbly-judged tackle before the referee blew for half-time, with the Cards feeling that they should have been comfortably in the lead at that point in the game, given that they?d had almost all the attacking play.

Half-time: Woking 1 Mansfield Town 1

With all the half-time scores, except at York, looking favourable, there was every incentive for the Cards to come out after the break and grab the three points they craved. But Mansfield had other ideas, looking much more threatening in this half going forward, with Duffy always looking for crosses, from Williams especially, to the far post.

Lorraine had to be quick to thwart O?Connor as Mansfield attacked in the opening minutes and was then prominent again with a sliding tackle. Duffy showed his aerial prowess with a looping header from distance.

In the 53rd minute the Cards launched a promising attack through Marum and Vernazza down the left, with Marum?s shot being blocked, before Ledgister too found his effort intercepted. With the Cards still not making much headway up front, it was no surprise to see Domoraud switched into the centre of the attacking trio. At the other end, O?Connor hit a low drive just past the far post as the Stags continued to look a good deal livelier than in the first half.

After struggling to put passes together, the Cards grabbed the lead in the 67th minute. Marum did well to get the ball out wide to Ledgister, who put in a fine low cross, just out of the keeper?s reach. Anderson, following up well, slid in at the far post to ram the ball into the net.

For a while it looked as though the Cards might push on and make the game safe with a third goal ? and reduce their ?goal difference? count ? as Ledgister and Marum both threatened, but the impetus seemed to be lost after Pattison and Lambu replaced Bozanic (admittedly having an ?off? day) and Vernazza.

Mansfield pushed forward in search of an equaliser, and the Cards were soon struggling to clear the ball and giving away far too many free-kicks in dangerous areas. In the 80th minute Duffy did what he?d been threatening to do all the second half, looping a fine header into the far corner to make it 2-2.

Woking redoubled their efforts in search of a goal, but Domoraud was well off target and a poorly-taken free-kick was blocked before Hutchinson was thrown on in a final desperate attempt to grab the winner. However, he saw very little of the ball and it was Mansfield who looked more likely to secure all three points as another strike went across the face of the goal and Duffy almost secured his hat-trick with another header. With five minutes of injury time being played, a combination of Hutchinson?s and Lorraine?s headers got the ball to Ledgister, who, under pressure, fired wide ? and that was it.

There could be no doubting the commitment shown by Graham Baker?s side but the game exemplified much of the season, with too few genuine chances being created and a goal-shy forward line ? with both Woking?s goals coming from defenders. On the plus side, Paul Lorraine was outstanding at the back once more.

We now have to sit and wait for other sides? results to see if there will be anything to play for at Rushden and Diamonds next Sunday.

Woking: Danny Knowles, Patrice Konan, Paul Lorraine, Colin Miles, Joe Anderson, Paolo Vernazza (Matt Pattison, 74), Bradley Quamina, Oliver Bozanic (Goma Lambu, 75), Joel Ledgister, Liam Marum (Tom Hutchinson, 86), Wilfried Domoraud

Subs not used: Charlie Moone, Dan Sintim

Attendance: 2096

Sponsors? (Supporters? Club and The Beer O?Clock Crew) MOTM: Paul Lorraine

P.S. Don?t forget that the Cards are away at Merstham on Tuesday evening in the semi-final of the Surrey Senior Cup.

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