Confident Cards overcome Blues XI
4:51pm, Thu 5th Aug 2010
Woking 1 Chelsea XI 0
4th August 2010
Following a comfortable victory over a Pakistan International XI on Sunday, the Cards faced a far sterner test in the form of a Chelsea XI. With this being Woking’s penultimate pre-season friendly before the season opener at home to Dover, it was no surprise that Manager Graham Baker made just three changes as he begun the search for a settled team.
This did include a surprise return for former loan goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley, who took the place of regular number one, Charlton-bound Ross Worner. Two other straight swaps saw Jerome Maledon start alongside Mark Ricketts in midfield and Andy Forbes partnering Craig Faulconbridge up front. The Chelsea XI surprisingly featured several big names, with Franco Di Santo, who played 22 times for Blackburn Rovers last season, leading the line and with Jack Cork, scorer for Burnley against Aston Villa this year, a danger down the right.
The Blues started well and dominated the early possession, Conor Clifford’s effort producing a smart save from Pidgeley after just two minutes before Di Santo saw his attempt smothered by the Cards’ debutant.
Despite the pressure a Woking back line of Anane, Thomas, Inns and McNerney once again looked solid and very dependable – Anane hooking clear when the ball looked destined for the bottom corner. With Aswad Thomas also restored to the wing back position the home side continued to offer a threat on the counter – a resulting headed goal from Craig Faulconbridge only denied by the linesman’s flag.
After a nervy start it was the Cards who began to get on top, a new 4-5-1 formation allowing for a better shape and organisation than that of the visitors – Ademola and Forbes ensuring Faulconbridge rarely became isolated while still being able to track back to deal with the Blues’ dangerous wingers. In the middle of the park Sam Hurrell showed a range of passing that Woking fans will be dying to witness in the season itself whilst Jerome Maledon and skipper Mark Ricketts countered Chelsea’s keep-ball tactics.
The Blues’ growing frustration became evident just after the half-hour mark. A rare chance from Tore produced a fine save from Pidgeley low to his left but allowed Lalkovic to follow in. Seemingly certain to tuck away the rebound, he was denied once more by the Cards’ stopper, who was quickly back to his feet, this time diving to his right to keep the scores level.
If their inability to score was surprising for Chelsea it was nothing compared with the feeling inside the first minute of stoppage time. A beautifully-floated corner from Hurrell was met by the head of Joe McNerney, who powered in the opener.
Half-time: Woking 1 Chelsea XI 0
One concern to the Cards will be captain Ricketts. The holding maestro, so vital to his side, was again withdrawn, this time in place of Francis Quarm. Supporters and management alike will be hoping that Mark is on the mend and can be pleased that, unlike Sunday, he at least saw out a full 45 minutes.
Otherwise, Woking continued to play and pass the ball nicely, each substitution making little difference to the flow of the game and seeing the respective players slot into place well. Remaining triallists Toby Little and Daryn Hennessy were particularly exciting as both caused consistent problems for the visitors’ back line.
Although Pidgeley was twice called upon to make further saves, it was the Cards who again produced the best chances. First, an opportunist half-volley from Moses Ademola forced a neat stop from Blackman before an outstanding weaving run from Little almost ended in a deserved goal.
With five minutes left Matt Pegler, on for the impressive Pidgeley, produced a final strong save down by his right-hand post as the Cards saw off the remaining threat from the visitors. A disconsolate Franco Di Santo, who had been unable to make any real impact on the game, perhaps summed up his side’s display as he walked straight down the tunnel in the final seconds.
All in all, a highly pleasing performance from a side that is likely to be close to that featuring in ten days’ time. Baker will know he will do well to keep the same levels of efficiency when his team face the pressure of competitive fixtures, but there is no doubt that there has been a vast improvement since the defeats by AFC Wimbledon and Brentford.
More of the same, please!
Woking: Lenny Pidgeley (Matt Pegler 80), Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas (Toby Little* 58), Mark Ricketts (Francis Quarm 45), Alan Inns (Daniel Sintim 67), Joe McNerney, Moses Ademola, Jerome Maledon (Daryn Hennessy 54), Craig Faulconbridge (Dave Gilroy 60), Andy Forbes (Ola Sogbanmu 60), Sam Hurrell (Charlie Turnbull 74).
Unused Subs: None
*Triallists in italics
Chelsea XI: Blackman, B.Clifford, Rohan Ince, Deen-Conteh, Djalo, C.Clifford, Tore, Cork, Di Santo, Mellis, Lalkovic.
Subs: Sebek, Sampayo, Rodgers, Saville.
MOTM: Sam Hurrell (pictured) – Adjusted well to a more central position in midfield, running the show with a good array of passes, and providing the cross for McNerney’s winner.