12:00am, Sat 19th Jul 2008
Fittingly, Neil Smith was given a warm reception by the Kingfield crowd this afternoon as he led his side out for this benefit match. And, on the pitch, he showed his usual commitment, out-jumping Matt Ruby as he attempted a header on goal and making a vital interception in the second half as trialist Wez Daly looked as if he was about to break the deadlock.
As often happens on these occasions, it was the old ?pros? ? the likes of Kevan Brown, Scott Steele, Lloyd Wye, Dean Austin, Ray Wilkins and Stuart Nethercott ? who excelled, showing that, in spite of advancing years and, in a few cases, expanding waistlines, they?ve lost none of their football ?nous? and their ability to control and pass a ball. Kim Grant?s youngsters hustled but found that they weren?t really able to get a grip of the game. And in Neil himself, Lloyd, Ian Selley and Scott Canham, the ?all stars? XI (12 actually, for the first half at least!) were not beyond a few feisty tackles of their own.
Kim?s opening line-up contained two trialists: midfielder Kunle, whom we had seen at Farnborough, and Ohoru Ugochukwu, who started in midfield but switched to the right flank after the break. Academy graduate, Carlos Talbot, was at right back. The game was played at a rather sedate pace ? which suited Neil?s side ? and, in truth, there wasn?t a huge amount of goalmouth action. It was more a matter of admiring the skills of the old ?pros? and enjoying a few, but perhaps not quite enough, flashes of promise from the current Woking side.
Woking had most of the attacking play but chances were relatively few, with Dave Beasant having to do no more than watch as a header from Tom Hutchinson went wide and a shot from Ugochukwu hit the advertising boards. Liam Marum, playing just behind Manny Williams, looked most likely to hit the target, as he fired off a couple of shots on the quarter of an hour mark. But the applause was greater still for a deft chip from Scott Steele which had Nick Gindre back-pedalling. Indeed, Neil?s side should have taken the lead a minute later when Chris Sharpling, unmarked, headed over from a corner. Martin Allen?s claim for a penalty as he fell in the box was never likely to fool Mr Singh!
On the half-hour mark Darren Bechet came on for Nick Gindre.
After Ian Selley and Lloyd Wye had turned the clocks back with characteristic tackles, Matt Ruby glanced another header wide and Liam Marum hit a nice effort, dipping over the bar. But it was Manny Williams who came closest to scoring as he dinked a left-footed chip beyond Dave Beasant and off the bar.
Half-time: Woking 0 Neil Smith XI 0
Kim rang the changes after the interval. Phil Gilchrist, Delano Sam-Yorke, trialist Wez Daly, Jerome Maledon, Bradley Quamina and Matt Gray came on for Matt Ruby, Manny Williams, Goma Lambu, Kunle, Abdou El Kholti and Carlos Talbot.
Ten minutes in, Glenn Cockerill, Matt Crossley and Graham Baker replaced Kevan Brown, Martin Allen and Ray Wilkins.
Once again, Woking had most of the offensive play but rarely looked like troubling Dave Beasant. The nearest they came to scoring was when Smudger foiled the hard-working Daly as Liam Marum cut the ball back to him from the byline. But Chris Sharpling, with a second header from a corner (I can?t recall that in his days at Kingfield!), nearly grabbed a late goal, the ball being blocked, ironically, by Scott Steele.
A nice afternoon but a pity that only 645 were there to show their appreciation of Smudger?s splendid service to the Club.
Woking (first half): Nick Gindre (Darren Bechet, 30), Carlos Talbot, Matt Ruby, Tom Hutchinson, Danny Bunce, Goma Lambu, Ohoro Ugochukwu, Liam Marum, Abdou El Kholti
Woking (second half): Darren Bechet (Ross Worner), Matt Gray, Tom Hutchinson, Phil Gilchrist, Danny Bunce (Andy Cook), Ohoro Ugochukwu, Bradley Quamina, Wes Daly, Jerome Maledon, Delano Sam-Yorke, Liam Marum (Kim Grant)
Neil Smith X1: appearances by Dave Beasant, Dean Austin, Lloyd Wye, Neil Smith, Kevan Brown, Stuart Nethercott, Ian Selley, Scott Canham, Chris Sharpling, Scott Steele, Ray Wilkins, Martin Allen, Graham Baker, Glenn Cockerill, Matt Crossley and (it is rumoured!) two of Smudger?s brothers-in-law!