Bishops bow to super Cardinals

Brian Caffarey
8:18pm, Sat 12th Feb 2011
Bishop’s Stortford 0 Woking 4
12 February 2011

After a week in which three players had left the Club, Alan Inns (till the end of the season), Jerome Maledon and Sam Hurrell, and one had arrived, Jay Davies from Peterborough, the Cards went into this game seeking a third league win on the trot in a bid to narrow the gap on the top eight clubs. And a very decisive victory it was as the Cards produced their most dominant display of the season to crush the home side with some scintillating football.

Garry Hill started with the same side as against St Albans except that Jay Davies took the number 11 shirt in place of Sam Hurrell. In a 4-5-1 formation, Moses Ademola switched to the left flank, with Ricky Anane on the right, and Jay, Kieran Murtagh and Mark Ricketts in central midfield.

On a sunny, mild afternoon the Cards had a shaky start defensively, as the pace of Garrod and Ming threatened to put them clear of Woking’s back line. In the 7th minute Reiss Noel’s casual back header was read by Garrod, who managed to poke the ball past Andy Little. Fortunately for the Cards, the ball bounced back off the far post and Little was able to grab it. Almost immediately the Cards had another scare as Garrod got free of Noel and Joe McNerney but the wonderfully solid Adam Doyle just managed to get his foot in, allowing Little to make things safe.

Jay Davies quickly showed a liking for getting on the ball, with some quick footwork and several sweeping crossfield passes. But although the Cards’ approach play looked promising at times, they found it hard at this stage to get into danger areas, with both Ademola and Anane not making much impact on the flanks. The hard-working Elvis Hammond, though, held the ball up well as usual and caused problems as he sought to wriggle past defenders.

Woking’s first shot came in the 15th minute when Doyle put a left-foot volley wide from a Noel free-kick, but the Cards still struggled for a decisive opening and the hosts were by no means out of the game, with Garrod still looking to pounce on through balls.

A lovely move in the 25th minute involving Doyle, Aswad Thomas, Ademola and Thomas, overlapping again, suggested that the Cards were beginning to crank up the attacking momentum. In the 34th minute a nice pass from Murtagh to Hammond enabled the Woking forward to win a corner. McNerney’s header was right on target but was cleared off the line by a defender. Thomas’s aim was less impressive a few minutes later as he skewed an effort well wide from a short free-kick.

Finally, in the 42nd minute the decisive breakthrough came. Hammond quickly seized on a rebound, cutting the ball back perfectly from the byeline into the path of Ademola, who crashed the ball home from close range.

Woking sought to press home their advantage. After some more clever play from Hammond and Davies had won a corner, a deep cross from Murtagh saw the keeper fumble McNerney’s header before a disputed offside call was given. But it was to get better still. As the ball was moved out of the Woking defence Ademola lifted a delightful ball over the top into Murtagh’s path. The on-loan midfielder strode on before chipping superbly over the keeper to make it 2-0 to the Cards. There was still time for Hammond to bamboozle a defender again before his cross was blocked.

Half-time: Bishop’s Stortford 0 Woking 2

The Cards came out of their blocks at the start of the second half looking as though Garry Hill and Steve Thompson had ordered them to kill the game off as quickly as possible with a third goal. In an increasingly dominant performance, with the home side looking overwhelmed at times, the Cards moved the ball sweetly, pressed hard in midfield and constantly looked as if they would add to their goal tally.

A flowing move saw the ball moved out wide to Thomas. A defender just managed to get a touch on his cross to divert it away from Hammond as he raced into the box. In the 54th minute the impressive Murtagh did superbly to dribble his way up the byeline but his attempted cut-back was blocked.

A minute later a rare Stortford attack almost caught the Cards napping but Garrod’s shot cannoned into one of his own team-mates. But this was a brief interruption to the virtual one-way traffic as the Cards poured forward. Davies nearly played Hammond in but the latter was caught offside. Davies was prominent again as he skilfully brought the ball down and beat his man in one movement, laying the ball off for Murtagh to shoot but he took too long. With a third goal looking only a matter of time, Ademola was gifted a great chance by the Blues’ keeper as he made a hash of a clearance, but the on-form Woking striker, one-on-one with the keeper, was too indecisive, allowing him to get a foot in. From the resulting play Hammond went very close as his shot from beyond the back post, from a chip by Ademola, flashed wide. This attack, in the 65th minute, was followed by a wonderful attacking move, starting with Anane on the right, through Hammond and Murtagh to Thomas out left, with the full-back’s great cross side-footed narrowly over the bar by Hammond.

More exciting attacking play followed as Hammond made another fine run; Anane tried a scissor kick and Ademola drew a save from the home keeper. It was hard to keep track of the chances and half-chances as Ademola and Murtagh both shot wide but in the 74th minute the Blues missed a great opportunity to pull a goal back, Bahare heading over with the goal at his mercy.

As so often happens when one team fluffs a clear chance, the Cards went straight down the other end and scored their third goal. And it was yet another marvellous strike from Murtagh. Making the most of a fine run by Ademola and lay-off by Hammond, he drove the ball low and hard into the far corner to make it 3-0.

With the three points now secure, Garry Hill brought on Anson Cousins, one of four Academy players on the bench, for Noel and, a some minutes later, Ollie Palmer for Davies, who received warm applause for his very encouraging debut.

But that applause was soon eclipsed by Palmer’s first touch of the ball, a superb dipping strike over the keeper from out wide right to make it 4-0. He was immediately buried under a heap of team mates, joining him in celebrating his first senior goal in his third substitute appearance. The home side protested, with some justification, that the linesman’s flag had been raised much earlier in the sequence for a Woking foul, but it took nothing away from a magnificent strike.

It was easy enough for the Cards to stroll around in the final few minutes, though an uncharacteristic bit of casual play from McNerney allowed Matata to get a shot in. At the other end, though, Murtagh, Ademola and Ricketts all tried to add a fifth before the referee blew time on a very enjoyable afternoon for Cards fans.

If the Cards can keep up the form they showed today, especially in the second half, there is absolutely no reason why they can’t still make it an interesting end to the league season.

Woking: Andy Little, Reiss Noel (Anson Cousins 78), Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Ricky Anane, Kieran Murtagh. Moses Ademola, Elvis Hammond, Jay Davies (Ollie Palmer 85)

Unused subs: Matt Pegler, Charlie Turnbull, Craig Faulconbridge

Booked: Jay Davies

My MOTM: Kieran Murtagh (pictured)

Attendance: 422

P.S. Make sure you’re at Kingfield next Saturday afternoon to see if the Cards can notch another league win, this time against Staines Town.

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