Cards take it to the last game

Brian Caffarey
12:46pm, Sun 18th Apr 2010
St Albans City 0 Woking 1
17 April 2010

The Cards continued their late-season surge with another win – their seventh in eight games – with this victory at a sun-baked Clarence Park yesterday. In doing so, they took the fight for the play-off places to the last game of the season, at home to relegated Weymouth next Saturday, but even a win then might still not be enough to secure a top-five spot. Much may depend on two fixtures on Tuesday night, when Bath City travel to Lewes (5-0 home winners yesterday) and Staines Town play at Maidenhead United.

The Woking line-up, in front of terrific away support, was very much as expected, with a back four of Anane, Sinclair, Hutchinson and Thomas; the midfield comprised Ademola, Ricketts, Arter and Nicolau, while Gez Sole sought to capitalise on Craig Faulconbridge’s lay-offs up front.

The Cards attacked strongly from the kick-off against a youthful Saints side. On a hard, bumpy pitch, though, both sides found it difficult to get the ball under firm control and with Woking looking frequently for the head of Faulconbridge, the ball spent quite a lot of time in the air.

Early threats came from an Ademola cross, dummied by Sole, and then Faulconbridge headed wide from a fine cross by Nicolau. On the quarter hour mark a nice Woking move, which began with a Worner throw-out to Thomas, ended as Ademola blazed well over. The home side responded immediately, when Anane inadvertently played the ball to an attacker, and the Cards had to be grateful to Worner for saving with his legs. He was in action again from the corner, punching clear in the box as the ball bobbed around. In a lively spell Sole’s well-struck free-kick was parried clear by the reliable Bastock in the Saints goal, and then Harry Arter made a terrific run into the box, hammering the ball across from the byeline, only to see it cleared. But the ball was then played out wide right by Thomas to Ademola, who was then foiled by Bastock once more as he shot and then saw the ball rebound back off him to the keeper.

After this lively opening 20 minutes the tempo dropped and proceedings became rather scrappy, with the ball frequently finding touch or spending a lot of time in the air. The Cards nearly had a rude awakening in the 27th minute, though, when Cohen leapt prodigiously to send in a header which crashed down off the bar and away.

There was little by way of subsequent action to note until an arguably decisive incident in the 38th minute. Cohen, exercised by a couple of robust Woking challenges, went in high on Anane and found himself sent off after a melee. And six minutes later the Cards made the breakthrough. Faulconbridge flicked the ball back over his head to Ademola, who jinked and then managed to get to the byeline. His cross was met by Arter (pictured), who finished neatly, sending the away fans into raptures.

Half-time: St Albans City 0 Woking 1

One-nil up, against ten men, with a win absolutely vital, one might have expected the away side to have moved quickly to tie up the game with a second goal. But in the second half the Cards demonstrated their common failing this season of not being able to ‘finish off’ opponents.

In the first few minutes, though, they had to rely on Worner once more to make two good saves after the Cards defence parted to allow the home side a worryingly good sight of goal.

Soon, however, Woking were finding plenty of space as they attacked against a sometimes beleaguered-looking St Albans defence but the decisive second goal escaped them. Ademola’s goal drought continued as he saw Bastock save a point-blank header and Arter shot well wide after being played in by Sole.

As expected, Matthew Wright soon replaced Faulconbridge and helped to further stretch the home defence. Nicolau had a decent effort but, leaning back, the ball was always heading over the bar. The best chances, midway through the half, fell to Sole, but they were to his head, not to his feet. First, a deep Arter cross was nodded back beyond the far post and then a wonderful cross from Anane was sent over the bar from close range. There was just time for a wild effort from Ademola before McNerney came on for Sole.

The Cards continued to press forward but could not make the final ball pay. Shots came in from Arter, Ademola and Wright but none of them looked likely to trouble Bastock. At the other end a rare home attack saw the ball blasted against Hutchinson before Worner grabbed the resulting header.

In the end the referee’s whistle brought proceedings to a welcome close for two tired-looking teams, with the away players and supporters celebrating yet another victory in this absorbing end to the season.

Woking: Ross Worner, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Tom Hutchinson, Tony Sinclair, Moses Ademola, Harry Arter, Craig Faulconbridge (Matthew Wright 59), Giuseppe Sole (Joe McNerney 80), Nicky Nicolau
Subs not used: Jon Boardman, Charlie Moone, Billy Hussey
Attendance: 752

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