Cards make it hard for themselves
7:51pm, Mon 28th Dec 2009
Woking 2 Weston-super-Mare 1
28 December 2009
The Cards should have â€˜walkedâ€™ this one, having taken the lead before two minutes were on the clock and then having enough chances in the following quarter of an hour to have put the game beyond the reach of a limited, if game, Weston-super-Mare side, who had only gained three draws on their travels. But, not for the first time this season, especially at Kingfield, Woking squandered early chances and then found themselves struggling to gain the three points their evident superiority demanded and their play-off chances sorely needed. In the end, they got there, just, thanks to two perfectly-placed headers from Matthew Wright.
Graham Baker made one change from the side at Havant, bringing in Nathaniel Pinney up front to partner Wright, with the deposed Jamie Hand not even making the bench.
It was a dream start for the Cards. With only just over a minute played, Aswad Thomas swung over a fine cross from the left flank. Wright rose and directed an excellent header back across the keeper and into the far corner.
Woking threatened to run riot against a Seagulls side who looked as though theyâ€™d rather be anywhere than on a football pitch. Pinney slipped the ball through to Wright, who was narrowly called offside. On seven minutes, the favour was returned. Pinneyâ€™s pace took him round the formidable frame of Weston keeper, Kevin Sawyer. He shot through the legs of a defender but narrowly past the far post. The one-way traffic continued as free-kicks rained in on the visitorsâ€™ area, with Tom Hutchinson getting on the end of two in succession but without sufficient purchase to trouble Sawyer.
Wright threatened to add to his tally as he appeared to get the better of his marker on the right of the area but a flailing boot diverted the ball before he could get in a shot. With 16 minutes gone, Pinney spurned his second great chance of the afternoon. He took down a long clearance from Ross Worner adroitly and raced beyond the visitorsâ€™ defence, opening up to finish beyond Sawyer, but put the ball narrowly wide. Another lovely headed flick from Wright released the marauding Tony Sinclair down the right before Weston grabbed a wholly unexpected equaliser.
A free-kick out right was played into the box and glanced off a head â€“ of a Woking player, apparently â€“ and into the far corner, well beyond Wornerâ€™s reach.
Predictably, the Seagulls gained in confidence and the Cards now struggled to create clear-cut chances, though still having much of the possession. But there was, first of all, another anxious moment as Jon Boardmanâ€™s attempted clearance was charged down, setting Jermaine Clark clear. Fortunately, Sinclairâ€™s pace enabled him to get in a vital saving tackle.
The Cards didnâ€™t really build up any genuine attacking momentum until about ten minutes before the break. They managed to pen the visitors back, with the point of attack being switched from side to side but crosses tended to be hit high and deep, presenting few problems for Sawyer and his defenders. A free-kick just to the right of the area offered hope but Thomasâ€™s effort cannoned harmlessly into the wall.
Woking 1 Weston-super-Mare 1
Graham Baker made two changes at half-time, bringing on Ricky Anane on the right for Jon Boardman and Jerome Maledon, in central midfield, for Moses Ademola. A generally slow-paced opening was enlivened only by Pinneyâ€™s drive, which Sawyer pushed away, low, for a corner. There looked to be a good opportunity for Tom Hutchinson or a team mate to bundle the resulting corner in, but the chance went begging.
Ricky Anane demonstrated his pace with a terrific run down the right flank and a dangerous cross but the Cards soon showed signs of losing their way, as passes increasingly went astray and too many balls were hit high down the middle for Wright. After Gez Sole had wasted a corner and then shot high from distance it was no great surprise to see Sam Sloma brought on to replace him out on the Woking left. But, with the crowd becoming increasingly restless and frustrated, the Cards continued to lack rhythm and invention, and the ball spent too much time in the air. The visitors, for their part, were content to stifle and delay the game at every opportunity.
A Wright header and a fierce Anane drive helped to turn the LGS crowdâ€™s restlessness into vocal support and Matthew Wright responded in the 72nd minute with the second perfect header of the afternoon. The ball rebounded to Pinney close to the byeline to the right of the goal. He lifted it sweetly to his Palace team mate in the centre, who directed it unerringly into the corner of the net to make it 2-1 to the Cards.
For a while Woking looked as though they were intent on getting a third goal as Pinney was just crowded out in the area and then shot narrowly wide after being played through the middle by Maledon. With the visitors now reduced to ten men, as the game went into the final ten minutes, the ever-industrious Ricketts volleyed wide after Sawyer had only been able to punch a corner up into the air.
Woking then seemed to decide to hang onto what theyâ€™d got as they tried to pass the ball around and keep possession, spurning chances to penetrate. Even so, Ananeâ€™s run into the box was blocked by Sawyer and Wright lifted an effort over the bar as he sensed that the keeper was off his line.
The first of two final scares for the Cards came when Thomasâ€™s pace allowed him to dispossess a Weston forward as the latter latched onto a long ball. The second came right at the end of injury time when a Weston forward seemed to have a clear sight of goal, only to be foiled as Worner grabbed the ball. A fracas ensued, involving most of the players on the pitch. The referee booked Hutchinson and two Weston players, when, no doubt, a red card or two could have been brandished.
So, the Cards gained the three points they needed to keep themselves up there in the play-off places but it has to be said that it was not a very convincing performance against one of the weakest teams in the league.
Woking: Ross Worner, Tony Sinclair, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Tom Hutchinson, Jon Boardman (Ricky Anane, 46), Moses Ademola (Jerome Maledon, 46), Harry Arter, Matthew Wright, Nathaniel Pinney, Giuseppe Sole (Sam Sloma, 59)
Unused subs: Luke Medley, Delano Sam-Yorke
Booked: Giuseppe Sole, Nathaniel Pinney, Tom Hutchinson
Guest of honourâ€™s (Alan Morton) MOTM: Harry Arter (pictured)
P.S. Donâ€™t forget that the Cards are at home again on New Yearâ€™s Day, when they take on Havant and Waterlooville in the return encounter. Reduced admission charges apply!