Always believing in Sole
11:12pm, Sat 20th Mar 2010
Woking 4 Basingstoke Town 2
20th March 2010
Glen Harrington – 20th March 2010
To any neutral predictor, this would have been viewed as a potentially tight and nervy mid-table clash with few chances. It was to be anything but. Woking, without a league win since the end of January, welcomed Basingstoke to Kingfield, who were also without a victory in their last five. However, there was still much at stake for each team following strong starts to the season that saw each revelling in the play-off places. Defeat today for either side would surely rule out a return.
On a day that also saw Town Manager Frank Gray’s long-awaited return, Graham Baker was forced into a single change from Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at Thurrock. Following a cracked rib, Jon Boardman sat out. His place was taken by Daniel Sintim, who was recalled from his loan spell at Croydon Athletic to allow him to play. This also meant that injury concerns, Faulconbridge and Ademola, were able to start.
The Cards commenced the proceedings with the rain swirling ominously around the ground. Woking’s start was not to match the miserable weather conditions. A traditional pump up the field to start saw the ball routinely at the feet of Town keeper, Ross Kitteridge, who fluffed his kick along the ground straight back to Craig Faulconbridge. 35 yards out, and still with much to do, the new number 9 executed a perfect lob over the stranded keeper, much to his teammates’ and Woking fans’ delight. The goal clocked at just 26 seconds.
To their credit the visitors, stunned by Faulconbridge’s opener, recovered well – maintaining their composure with some neat passing but unable to create any opportunities. It was the home side that came closest to the second goal with Tom Hutchinson heading a corner back across goal, a nervous Kitteridge rooted to his line as the ball was smashed clear.
Seemingly comfortable at the back, it was the home side’s turn to be stunned by a bolt from the blue. Full-back Matthew Warner collected the ball 30 yards out following a headed clearance. With nothing on, Warner unleashed a thunderbolt into the top right-hand corner. A despairing Ross Worner could only watch as the ball flew in off the underside of the crossbar.
Suddenly full of confidence, Basingstoke pushed forward looking for a second. A minute before half-time they almost got it. A free-kick into the area from the halfway line received a flick-on from David Pratt, who turned to see his header loop agonisingly onto the post.
This was not the end of the first half drama. Deep into stoppage time the Cards won a free-kick on the edge of the area and up stepped Giuseppe Sole. Just like old times, a cool, calm and collected Gez curled his kick around the five man wall and into the bottom right-hand corner.
Half Time: Woking 2 Basingstoke Town 1
After a frantic close to the first half Frank Gray sent out his visiting side early for the second period. When the Cards also returned it was with a change in the ranks. Goal scorer Faulconbridge, who had picked up an injury in mid-week, departed to be replaced by Nathaniel Pinney – in need of a strong performance after some recent struggles.
Before many fans had settled back into their seats, the visitors were level once more. A chipped ball over the top of the defence, usually comfortably dealt with by the Woking back line, was reached by Town striker Jahson Downes. The snap shot from a tight angle then beat Worner at his near post.
This time the Cards responded well to the equaliser – beginning to create chances at will. First, a goalmouth scramble from a corner eventually fell to Sole, whose shot was deflected behind. Three minutes later Moses Ademola played the ball back to the edge of the area for Harry Arter, whose shot was parried away by Kitteridge. The ball eventually fell back to Moses, whose well executed shot was placed just wide. Shortly after, Ademola was again the danger man, outmuscling the defender, only to see his attempt strike the post.
The goal was coming. On the hour mark it finally did. A great series of passing originating with Aswad Thomas on the left-hand side resulted in a superb through ball from Sole. Pinney latched onto the pass and slipped the ball past the onrushing Kitteridge.
Two minutes later and the home side prepared their second change. Youngster Charlie Moone replaced Daniel Sintim, allowing Ricky Anane to drop to right back – Moone taking his place on the wing. It took less than a minute for his introduction to create a chance. Moone’s good work resulted in a cross for Pinney, whose header was straight at Kitteridge from 6 yards.
Woking continued to fashion good chances, with the Cardinals dominating, especially down the flanks. Both Pinney and Moone saw headed chances go just wide. Frank Gray attempted to turn the tide with three changes in 10 minutes, but this made little difference.
With 10 minutes remaining, Ademola raced through on goal, only to be tripped from behind by Basingstoke defender Lewis Christon for a clear penalty. Up stepped Sole, who smashed the ball into the net to put Woking in complete control and round up a man-of-the-match performance from the Cards’ top scorer.
In the final minute Jerome Maledon replaced Tony Sinclair, who looked to have been limping for at least 20 minutes. By now the home support was in good voice and the visitors appeared well beaten. Tom Hutchinson, a constant threat from set pieces, sent a header just over in the dying seconds as the skipper looked to add a fifth.
A much-needed result for Woking, who move up 1 place to 12th and are now 6 points off the play-offs. Basingstoke are now surely out of the reckoning, 14 points behind 5th-placed Staines Town. The Cards entertain Hampton & Richmond on Tuesday night, with victory and a strong run of results vital to hopes of finishing in the top five.
Woking: Ross Worner, Daniel Sintim (Charlie Moone 62), Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Tom Hutchinson, Tony Sinclair (Jerome Maledon 90), Ricky Anane, Harry Arter, Craig Faulconbridge (Nathaniel Pinney 45), Moses Ademola, Giuseppe Sole.
Unused Subs: Nicky Nicolau, Billy Hussey.
Goals: Faulconbridge 1, Sole 45, 79, Pinney 60.
Booked: Hutchinson 66.
Basingstoke Town: Kitteridge, Rice, Warner, Laidler, Christon, Finlay, Ogunbote (Webb 64), Williams, Pratt (Stephens 75), Downes, Frewen (Bryant 69).
Unused Subs: Mitchell, Allen.
Goals: Warner 33, Downes 49.
Booked: Williams 57, Laidler 84.
Man of the Match: Sole