Disappointing Cards exit Trophy

Brian Caffarey
7:26am, Sun 6th Feb 2011
Woking 0 Salisbury City 2
FA Trophy 3rd Round
5 February 2011

A lacklustre Cards side threw away a great opportunity to reach the Quarter-Finals of the FA Trophy yesterday afternoon, a defensive howler passing the initiative to the Whites just after half-time. That lead was quickly doubled with a fine strike and the Cards never looked like hauling themselves back into the match. All that is left now to rescue a disappointing season is the hope of a late surge up the league table to challenge for a play-off place.

As expected, Alan Inns replaced the cup-tied Reiss Noel in central defence, with Jerome Maledon coming in for Sam Hurrell, who was also forced to sit this one out. A good crowd, including the new Chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, had gathered on a very windy, dull afternoon to see the two sides do battle.

The visitors started more strongly, winning two early free-kicks, one of which led to a Jake Reid effort, blasted high and wide. Both sides were struggling to control the ball, with passes and clearances frequently ballooning off target. With the wind behind them, the hope was that the Cards might test the City keeper with a few shots but it soon became evident that Elvis Hammond and Dave Gilroy were finding it hard to make much impression up front and there wasn’t much assistance coming from either flank.

Moses Ademola, in the 16th minute, had the Cards’ first effort on target, bringing the ball down well and forcing the Whites’ keeper, Smith, to make a save low to his right. Charlie Knight, down the right flank for Salisbury, was showing up well, beating Aswad Thomas to put in a deep cross, which was blocked off.

By midway through the first half the game had become a scrappy affair, with neither side looking likely to score and both continuing to find it hard to get the ball down and get it under control. For the Cards Joe McNerney put in a decent cross, which Smith took well, and Mark Ricketts showed determination in chasing a ball, which the wind was taking away from him, to pull it back from the bye-line, but to no avail. City responded with a clever run down the opposite bye-line but the cross was too deep to cause problems.

The Cards put together a decent, passing move in the 35th minute but the sequence ended with a weak Ademola shot to the near post. Cards fans’ hopes were raised by a collective shout for handball a minute later as a Gilroy header seemed to strike a defender’s arm but the referee, on the blind side, waved play on. The Woking pressure continued as Gilroy stooped to put a header over the bar and then, in the best home move of the half, Hammond and Gilroy combined superbly, with the latter cutting in from the left to curl a fine shot inches over the bar.

At the other end, Adam Doyle, not for the first time in a good first half display, got in a great saving tackle to prevent Reid breaking through the Woking back line before the referee called halt to a disappointing half.

Half-time: Woking 0 Salisbury City 0

The Cards' defence seemed to be in the dressing room still when the second half started. The ball was played behind Inns and Doyle, not far into the Woking half. Doyle was probably closer than Inns but Reid shrugged off his attempted tackle. He proceeded to round Andy Little, sliding the ball home to the delight of the sizeable contingent of Salisbury fans on the Chris Lane Terrace. Not the start to the second half which Garry Hill would have been preaching in his half-time talk!

There seemed, at least, plenty of time for the Cards to get back into the game and there appeared to be quite a lot of space for an improved Ademola to profit from down the right, although Aswad Thomas was finding life harder on the other flank as he tried to cope with the tricky Knight as well as providing some attacking momentum. In the 50th minute Ademola’s cross-cum-shot was palmed away by Smith to raise Cards fans’ hopes of a fight-back. But the visitors struck a killer blow in the 55th minute, Darrell Clarke, seizing on a fortunate rebound, to cleverly volley past Little and into the far corner to make it 2-0 to Salisbury.

Clarke threatened to repeat the trick a couple of minutes later but this time his effort was blocked.

Garry Hill threw on Craig Faulconbridge for Jerome Maledon in the 62nd minute as Woking still struggled to test Smith. Kieran Murtagh’s clever footwork won a corner, which led to a dangerous pull-back from the lively Ademola, but the defence cleared its lines. Murtagh was less impressive with a wasted free-kick. A minute later the Cards had the ball in the net but the linesman’s flag had already been raised as Gilroy slotted home from an Inns effort. The Cards ramped up the pressure from a dangerous Ademola cross, with Inns ending up in the net as Murtagh shot well over the bar.

In another throw of the dice Garry Hill replaced Gilroy with Ricky Anane in the 69th minute. The Cards fought to make an impression on the Salisbury defence but without looking as though they would pull a goal back and make for an interesting final quarter of an hour. There was frustration as a McNerney free-kick was over-hit and drifted out, while Thomas, stretching to meet a cross, headed wide.

At the other end, more gaps appeared as Woking pushed forward, and Reid nearly put the game to bed as he met a fine cross, planting the ball over the Woking bar. In another counter-attack, a goal seemed probable as Salisbury surged forward, after Ricketts had lost the ball in midfield and Murtagh had ‘sold’ himself with a poor tackle, but Little managed to thwart the visitors, grabbing the ball at the second attempt.

Ademola continued to provide most of the attacking threat for the Cards. Winning and taking a corner, he saw Inns head on for Doyle, with Smith then tipping the ball over the bar. The resulting corner, again taken by Ademola, saw the ball bounce off the top of the bar.

In the 84th minute the Cards were denied a clear penalty as a Salisbury defender tugged back Ademola in the area. The referee seemed to think about giving it but then waved play on.

That was really the last offensive threat by the Cards as a very disappointing afternoon for home fans petered out with thoughts of what might have been on a better day.

Garry Hill’s side will now have to re-group quickly and focus on getting three points at home to St Albans City on Tuesday to keep alive their slim hopes of a play-off place.

Woking: Andy Little, Alan Inns, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Moses Ademola, Kieran Murtagh, Dave Gilroy (Ricky Anane 69), Elvis Hammond, Jerome Maledon (Craig Faulconbridge 62)

Unused subs: Matt Pegler, Anson Cousins, Charlie Turnbull

Sponsors’ MOTM: Moses Ademola (pictured)

Attendance: 1551

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