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Cards gain decisive home win

Brian Caffarey
8:58pm, Sat 11th Sep 2010
Woking 2 Basingstoke Town 0
11 September 2010

Graham Baker kept faith with the side that had won 1-0 at St Albans a week ago and was rewarded with three more, well-deserved, points – but he had substitute Craig Faulconbridge (pictured), with two expertly-taken goals, to thank for remedying the lack of incisiveness in the penalty box, which had hitherto threatened to make it another frustrating Kingfield afternoon. This win takes the Cards into 7th place in the table, three points adrift of the play-off places.

There were plenty of familiar faces among the visitors, with Frank Gray and Gerry Murphy in the dugout, and Matt Pattison, Jay Gasson and ex-Academy player Jide Ogunbote in the starting eleven. For the home side, the increasingly influential Jerome Maledon enjoyed a good afternoon against the club he’d played for before Graham brought him home to Kingfield.

The opening exchanges were pretty unremarkable as both sides struggled to stamp their authority on the game. Lenny Pidgeley had to field a very ambitious long-range effort from Warner – which proved to be just about the visitors’ only shot on target in the first half. His opposite number, Tardif, plucked the ball from above Moses Ademola’s head after strike partner Dave Gilroy had flicked on. Joe McNerney tried to bundle the ball in at the far post from a corner, whilst Chris Bush went close in the 15th minute as he glanced a header onto the roof of the net.

Five minutes later Downes flashed a shot past Pidgeley’s far post but it was increasingly clear by that stage that the momentum now lay with the home side as the likes of Ricky Anane and Ademola came more into the game.

A quick burst down the right by Ademola found Gilroy in the box but the ball was nicked off his toes as he prepared to strike home. Toby Little’s clever pass into the area then nearly set the striker free again before Basingstoke’s defence attempted suicide with a mis-kick and then a dreadful back pass. Seizing on the mistake, Gilroy attempted to curl the ball past Tardif but the angle always favoured the keeper..

More Woking pressure followed from a fluent move down the left, with the visitors’ defence fortunate to see the resulting corner deflected accidentally to Tardif.

Woking’s best chance of the half came in the 35th minute. Anane made a penetrating run into the heart of the opposing defence. His left-footed strike seemed unlikely to trouble Tardif but it was deflected into the path of the lurking Gilroy. Unfortunately, the Woking striker was off balance and facing the wrong way as the ball reached him. He swivelled and shot but the ball crept past the far post.

The hugely-promising Bush then ventured forward, slicing through the Basingstoke defence before unleashing a venomous shot which Tardif saved well.

Finally, Gilroy headed over from a Little cross. So, at half-time, it was the not unfamiliar story at Kingfield of the home side dominating the game but struggling to put the ball in the net.

Half-time: Woking 0 Basingstoke Town 0

Initially, it looked as though the Cards would continue to make the running in the second half as Ademola skipped down the right flank. His cross was laid off to Little, who struggled to get the ball out from under his feet but recovered well to put in a decent cross himself, with the move ending with Francis Quarm firing over the bar.

However, this brief flurry preceded the home side’s worst spell of the game as they stuttered and lost any rhythm. Jimmy Dack shouted ‘get the ball and pass it!’ but his charges struggled to do either for a time. Basingstoke began to have more of the play but without ever really looking like piercing a solid Woking back line.

An excellent Maledon cross just failed to reach Gilroy before, in the 65th minute, Graham Baker made the decisive move of bringing on Faulconbridge for Anane, closely followed by Sam Hurrell for Little. The last-named, in the meantime, had made a fine run into the box but seemed determined to dribble the ball into the net rather than shoot.

The Cards began to lift themselves out of their temporary doldrums, regaining the initiative as Ademola and Maledon combined well down the right and Faulconbridge flicked on for Gilroy. Hurrell’s corner saw Faulconbridge beat Tardif in the air but his header flew over the bar.

Basingstoke briefly threatened as Bush and Doyle were beaten for once, but the home breakthrough came in the 72nd minute. The influential Maledon powered through the middle, slipping the ball to Ademola on the right. The latter’s deep cross was met perfectly by Faulconbridge at the far post, planting his header in textbook style back over the keeper and under the bar. 1-0 to the Cards.

Woking immediately threatened to double their lead as Maledon made a superb overlapping run down the right and then Ademola’s cross nearly produced a repeat performance from Faulconbridge. An even better chance fell to Gilroy in the 76th minute. Maledon sent Hurrell away at speed down the left. His pace took him into the box and his low cross seemed perfectly weighted for Gilroy but the striker, uncharacteristically, fluffed his shot.

That was the end of Gilroy’s involvement since, having apparently picked up a facial injury, he was replaced by Alan Inns. To most fans’ surprise, his role was not to be that of an auxiliary defender but to scamper around up front in support of Faulconbridge!

The Cards had Pidgeley’s quick reactions to prevent an equalising goal as he got down smartly to block a shot after a neat one-two in the box.

With 85 minutes on the clock, Bush once more showed his strength and skill as he strode forward to fire in a rasping drive, which Tardif, at full stretch, turned away for a corner. Faulconbridge then headed Hurrell’s cross just past the far post.

At the other end, McNerney, again solid in central defence, had to be alert to slide in to thwart a quick attack, with the resulting corner leading to a blocked snap shot from Pattison.

As four minutes of injury time began, the Cards finally made the game safe with Faulconbridge’s second goal of the afternoon. Bush – presumably playing his last game before Aswad Thomas’s return from suspension – twisted and turned on the edge of the area, seemingly keeping possession for ages as he sought to create a shooting opportunity, but in the end he slid the ball to Faulconbridge, who swept it, left-footed, past Tardif and into the far corner.

This was a hard-earned, but well-deserved, win for Graham Baker’s side. Again, it was not the most fluent of performances but the Woking manager will be more than happy with: a decisive home win, a second victory on the trot, seven points out of nine in the last three games, three successive clean sheets and two goals from his substitute striker.

Let’s hope that the Cards can keep this run going at Welling next Saturday before FA Cup action interrupts an increasingly promising league campaign.

Woking: Lenny Pidgeley, Mark Ricketts, Chris Bush, Jerome Maledon, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Ricky Anane (Craig Faulconbridge 65), Francis Quarm, Dave Gilroy (Alan Inns 76), Moses Ademola, Toby Little (Sam Hurrell 69)

Unused subs: Matt Pegler, Andy Forbes

Sponsor’s (Pulsa Electrical Services) MOTM: Moses Ademola

Attendance: 1112

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