Cards gain point in feisty encounter

Andy Avery
11:42am, Sun 27th Dec 2009
Havant and Waterlooville 1 Woking 1
26 December 2009

The bare facts tell of a draw with two red cards, yet as ever they fail to give people a clear picture of a dramatic Boxing Day clash in the first-ever league meeting between the Hawks and the Cards.

Woking started with Matthew Wright heading up a 4-5-1, with Havant choosing a similar formation, including three ex-Cards, although Jay Gasson and top scorer, Manny Williams, missed the chance to play against their former employers.

It was Woking who had the game’s first chance. Harry Arter surged forward but was brought down outside the box. Gez Sole took the free-kick, but it was deflected wide for a corner. The corner was initially cleared, but when the ball was fired back, it clearly struck a defender’s hand but the referee was more Scrooge than Santa, and waved away the penalty claims – it was the first of many occasions he left the Woking team and fans frustrated with his apparently random decisions.

Havant’s Jon McDonald has a Rory Delap-type throw and one of his efforts resulted in Havant’s first chance, which was fired over by Forbes.

Sole had the game’s next chance. Arter played an inch-perfect through ball, leaving him with only Howe to beat, but the ex-Card saved well with his feet.

Howe again saved Havant in the 25th minute. Ademola cut in from the right and his shot was heading for the top corner, but Howe managed to get his fingers on it and push it over the bar – a fantastic save.

Then, out of nowhere, the Hawks took the lead and it was two ex-Cards who were involved. Gary MacDonald played a long free-kick into the area. It wasn’t cleared and found its way to Simpemba, who rifled a shot into the top of the net, giving the otherwise untroubled Worner no chance, leaving the Woking fans sick as the proverbial parrot.

Half-time: Havant and Waterlooville 1 Woking 0

The half-time break gave fans a chance to discuss what Santa had left them under the tree and whether the bizarrely pineapple-shaped present was some bubble-bath or something more exciting.

Havant started the second half the stronger team and Worner made a good save from Hutchings in the 51st minute. A minute later Martin saw a shot trickle just wide, which the referee saw fit to reward with a corner, to the bemusement of both teams. Fortunately for the Cards, it was cleared safely.

Woking’s first real chance of the second half came when a Sole corner found its way to Tom Hutchinson three yards out. The goal was at his mercy, yet somehow he managed to lift his shot over the bar.

Two minutes later came the first real flash point. Jamie Hand jumped into a challenge with Walker. After consulting with his assistant, the referee produced a red card for the midfielder. Would this turn the game in Havant’s favour, or would Woking fight a rearguard action? The answer was swift and decisive.

Woking were suddenly fired up, as if they’d eaten a jar of chillies. Within a minute Tony Sinclair burst into the area and was felled – for once the referee was decisive and pointed to the spot without any delay despite the usual protests. Sole stepped up and fired the penalty home, ignoring the shouts of Howe trying to distract him.

Five minutes later, the Cards fans were enraged after a cynical foul by Walker on Sole resulted in only a yellow card for the Hawks midfielder.

Both teams made changes, with Graham Baker swapping Pinney for Wright, Medley for Ademola and Anane for Sinclair. It was clear he felt the game was still winnable despite being down to 10 men and he was almost proved right as Woking had the best chances to win it.

With a few minutes remaining, Anane went on a great run down the right, beating three men. He pulled the ball back to the Medley on the edge of the box. He placed his shot and it was heading for the corner but once again Howe pulled off another fine save to deny the ex-Hawk.

The final minute saw more controversy. Another Woking break was not cleared and Sole hit a beautiful shot that had Howe well beaten but it thumped against the foot of the post and back out – the rebound fell to Pinney but his shot was blocked for a corner.

Pinney went to get the ball from Howe, but he would not let him have it, despite the referee telling him to. An altercation followed in which Pinney tapped Howe on the face and the referee decided this was sufficient to give his second red card of the afternoon, further enraging the Cards and their fans.

So, after a quiet and scrappy first half, it had turned into an exciting game of football, with only ex-Card Aaron Howe preventing Woking from returning home with all three points. It was a shame he spoilt his afternoon, by goading the Woking fans at the final whistle, ensuring a fiery reception when he comes to Kingfield on New Year’s Day.

‘Man of the match’ for Woking was Aswad Thomas. He defended well against a pacy Robbie Martin, and was always keen to get forward and caused the Hawks a lot of problems

Woking : Worner, Sinclair, Thomas, Ricketts, Hutchinson, Boardman (Anane 83), Ademola (Medley 72), Arter, Wright (Pinney 58), Hand, Sole

Sent off: Hand, Pinney

Unused subs: Nicky Nicolau, Delano Sam-Yorke

Attendance: 1007

MOTM: Aswad Thomas (pictured)

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