Woking News & Mail


John Moore
12:00am, Sat 9th Aug 2008

Woking 1 v Altrincham 2

Blue Square Premier

3pm - Saturday 9th August 2008

Grant?s first league game in charge of the Cards ended in
disappointment as Altrincham took full advantage of a last minute
defensive error to take all three points back to Cheshire. A much
improved second-half performance seemed to have at least secured a
point against a side expected to struggle again this season, only for
the Cards to be hit with a sucker-punch from Colin Little right at the

Not surprisingly, Grant started with the same line up
and 4-1-4-1 formation that did so well on Tuesday night, in the last
pre-season friendly against Southampton. With Worner getting the nod in
goal ahead of Gindre, the back four was Danny Bunce on the left, Colin
Miles and Tom Hutchinson in the middle, with the first of the six new
signings in the starting eleven, Patrice Konan, on the right. The
holding midfield player was another new signing, Adekunle Salau. In
advance of him were Abdul El Kholti wide on the left, Manny Williams
wide on the right, with Paolo Vernazza and Matt Pattison in the centre.
Liam Marum was given the lone striker role.

For all the talk
beforehand about Woking?s desire to play better football this season ,
it was the away side who seized the initiative, as they started the
game in fine style, passing the ball around neatly and confidently.
After only five minutes, their resourceful start appeared to have been
rewarded, when that evergreen goal poacher, Colin Little, had ball in
the Cards? net, only for it to be disallowed for off-side.

minutes later, and with the Cards still struggling to get any foothold
in the game, Altrincham?s Chris Denham then had a half-chance, blazing
over the bar from just inside the area.

After twenty-three
minutes, Woking finally managed to string some passes together - that
resulted in Vernazza putting over a dangerous cross, which El Kholti,
coming in from the left, just failed to reach.

The Cards
became increasingly nervous and uncoordinated as the half progressed
and, with their confidence draining away, they struggled to make any
real impression or put together an attack of any note. Altrincham, in
contrast, had looked very comfortable and composed throughout, with
their only really anxious moment coming just before half-time, when a
defender kicked the ball against Marum, who?d battled bravely to find a
way through, and it ricocheted off him just past the post.

recent seasons, the Cards have made a habit of conceding goals at bad
times, and old habits die hard, as they conceded a goal right on the
stroke of half-time. The defence seemed to freeze, allowing Johnson to
run onto a ball played over the top. He cut in unopposed from the left
and forced Worner into a good save low down, but the keeper was
helpless as Meechan pounced onto the rebound and smashed the ball high
into the net from close range.

Half-time Woking 0 Altrincham 1

Woking started the half trying to play at a quicker tempo, it wasn?t
until the introductions of Ledgister for Williams and Sam-Yorke for
Salau, that the Cards finally began to make Altrincham look far less

Ledgister immediately gave some much needed pace and
width on the right and Sam-Yorke, despite his tender age and lack of
experience, used his strength and physique, and at last started to make
life much more uncomfortable for the away team?s defence. He chased and
harried for the remainder of the afternoon and was very much the
catalyst for the big improvement that followed.

All of a
sudden, gaps started to appear and the Cards started to move the ball
with greater purpose and look far more threatening. First, Bunce had a
good long-range effort that just went wide and that was followed by
Vernazza rather wasting a decent shooting opportunity, after good
approach work from Marum and El Kholti.

On sixty-six minutes,
the Cards? improved display earned their reward, courtesy of a Danny
Bunce free-kick that found its way to the far post, enabling Ledgister
to force the ball home from close range between the keeper and the post.

for all the subsequent possession that the Cards enjoyed, they created
no further real opportunities and were unable to force Coburn into
having to make a save. All too often, the final ball lacked composure
and this was to prove costly, as the Cards threw away a point at the
death, conceding yet another poor goal at a bad time.

seemed to be no danger at all when Danny Bunce had the ball in the
final minute, with the expectation that he?d try and launch the ball up
field to kick-start another attack. Inexplicably, though, he passed the
ball straight to Little. Although he still had plenty to do, he drew
Hutchinson to him, showed him outside, then cut inside, and lifted and
bent the ball sublimely over Worner, to secure all the points and send
the away fans into raptures.

Looking at the next few matches,
this was probably the one fixture that looked as though it might yield
all three points, so to come away with nothing wasn?t the ideal start
for Kim Grant and the team. There?s no doubt, especially in the first
half, that everyone looked very nervous and this may go some way
towards explaining the somewhat below par performance. There was,
however, some encouragement to be gained from a much-improved effort
after the break, particularly from the performance of Sam-Yorke, and,
were it not for a lapse in concentration at the end, the Cards would
have got at least got a point.

Woking: Worner, Konan, Bunce,
Hutchinson, Miles (Lorraine) Salau (Sam-Yorke), Williams (Ledgister),
Vernazza, Pattison, Marum, El Kholti. Substitutes (unused): Gindre and

Booked: Bunce, Vernazza and Salau.

Attendance: 1645

Sponsor?s MOTM: Tom Hutchinson

MOTM: Delano Sam-Yorke - despite a lack of experience at this level, he
showed a great willingness and confidence to take players on and put
himself about, so creating space and opportunities for others.

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