Woking News & Mail

Hatters edge final friendly

Brian Caffarey
9:01pm, Sat 7th Aug 2010
Woking 1 Luton Town 2
Pre-season friendly
7 August 2010

If truth be told, this was a rather dull encounter, with both sides playing well within themselves – no doubt keeping their powder dry for the real thing in a week’s time. For Woking fans, the main interest lay, in the end, in the second-half appearance of new signing Adam Doyle from Farnborough, who slotted in very comfortably in the left centre back role.

Lenny Pidgeley was again wearing the goalkeeper’s gloves, increasing speculation that he will be at Kingfield for the start of the season at least. He also provided the most entertaining moment in the game, with an adventurous (or reckless) dribble out of defence which took him past three Luton attackers and into midfield before passing to a Woking colleague.

The afternoon started quietly, in front of a disappointingly sparse crowd, with both sides seeming content to play at a subdued tempo. For Woking, the main threat seemed likely to come from Aswad Thomas down the left and, on the few occasions he received the ball, Moses Ademola on the other flank, but triallist Daryn Hennessy also showed up well with some pleasing movement and passing. Luton, meanwhile, got in a few crosses from the wings but nothing which looked like troubling Pidgeley.

The first real home attempt on goal came in the 20th minute in the shape of a blocked effort from Francis Quarm from the edge of the area after enterprising play from Thomas. The visitors, similarly, saw a shot blocked.

The game livened up on the half hour mark as Luton – always looking slightly more fluent – attacked with greater intent. Matthew Barnes-Homer hit the corner of post and bar after the ball had rebounded to him in the area and then immediately drew a fine save from Pidgeley, who got down smartly at his near post to block a goalbound effort. The former Carlisle keeper was then quickly in action again as he dived to his left to hold a fierce shot from Claude Gnapka.

Woking continued to plug away but found it difficult to pierce a solid Luton defence with through balls or get in dangerous crosses. However, in the 35th minute, Jerome Maledon tested the visitors’ keeper with a decent strike with the outside of his right foot on the volley.

As the match seemed to be drifting towards a half-time stalemate, Luton took the lead with a simple, but well-executed, attack. The ball was fired in from the right flank and Kevin Gallen shot past Pidgeley from close range.

Half-time: Woking 0 Luton Town 1

Both sides made several changes at half-time, with Graham Baker bringing on Doyle, Craig Faulconbridge, Dave Gilroy and triallist Toby Little for Alan Inns, Andy Forbes, Hennessy and Sam Hurrell.

Faulconbridge, who, as usual, won more than his fair share of headers, was immediately in the thick of the action, centering for Maledon, who connected well only to see a defender block his shot. Woking threatened again shortly afterwards as Ademola crossed from the same area but neither Faulconbridge nor Gilroy was able to take advantage.

The Woking fans, having been aroused and amused by Pidgeley’s midfield foray, then saw their team launch a couple more attacks before the visitors, rather against the run of play, increased their lead. Pidgeley did well to block a shot but Adam Murray was on hand to blast the ball back past him into the net.

Four minutes later, the Cards pulled a goal back. More useful work from Thomas led to a professional foul on Gilroy on the edge of the area. Little’s low, rasping, free-kick cannoned off the base of the far post to nestle in the side netting on the opposite side of the goal.

Ademola put the Luton defence under more pressure with a cross-cum-shot which flew across the face of the Hatters’ goalmouth. Little followed up with an excellent centre, which Gilroy very nearly reached.

Woking had a great opportunity to level the scores in the 75th minute when Faulconbridge’s headed flick-on put Gilroy clear. It seemed as if he only had to pass the ball across to Maledon – who again, creditably, had got himself into the right place – but he seemed to lose concentration as the keeper advanced and he barely connected with the ball.

Another good chance fell Woking’s way three minutes later. Ricky Anane crossed to Little, who laid the ball off well to Ola Sogbanmu (now on for Ademola) near the penalty spot but the young striker did not get enough weight on his shot to trouble the Luton keeper.

With six minutes to go, a Thomas back pass nearly got Pidgeley into trouble as a Luton player intercepted but, fortunately for Woking, the attack fizzled out. But Luton came even closer to restoring a two-goal margin when a superb cross from the busy Keith Keane whipped over Joe McNerney’s head, with Tom Craddock planting a header against the bar. As if to make amends, McNerney was next seen making an enterprising run into the opposition box, with a decent left-foot strike to finish the move.

As the referee brought proceedings to a close, it was hard to make any definitive judgments about either side on the basis of this cautious, rather tame, encounter. But there were positive signs from, amongst others, Aswad Thomas, Joe McNerney, Jerome Maledon and Adam Doyle. The overall feeling, however, was that both players and fans were saving their energies for next Saturday.

Woking: Lenny Pidgeley, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Jerome Maledon, Alan Inns (Adam Doyle, 46), Joe McNerney, Moses Ademola (Ola Sogbanmu, 76), Francis Quarm, Andy Forbes (Craig Faulconbridge, 46), Daryn Hennessy (Dave Gilroy, 46), Sam Hurrell (Toby Little, 46)

Unused sub: Matt Pegler

Luton: Mark Tyler, Dan Gleeson, Zdenek Korca, George Pilkington, Shane Blackett, Claude Gnapka, Pavel Besta, Keith Keane, Andy Drury, Kevin Gallen, Matthew Barnes-Homer

Subs used: Kevin Pilkington, Freddie Murray, Adam Murray, Tom Craddock, Jake Howells

Subs not used: Dan Walker, Godfrey Poku, Alan White, Ed Asafu Adjane

Attendance: 618.

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