TORQUAY UNITED 2 WOKING 1
12:00am, Wed 13th Aug 2008
(Report based on Radio Devon commentary, with post-match comments from David Holmes)
After the acute disappointment of Saturday?s home defeat to Altrincham the Cards faced a very tough trip to Plainmoor this evening to take on Torquay United, many people?s pre-season favourite for the title. The Cards had the best of the first half and went in 1-0 ahead at the break but the Gulls bounced back in the second and their pressure finally paid off with two goals.
Missing from Saturday?s starting line-up were Adekunle Salau and Manny Williams (who?d just become a father), with Joel Ledgister and Gez Sole getting the nod.
There was an early warning for Woking as Tim Sills headed over the bar in the second minute from a free-kick. At the other end, Abdou El Kholti, busy on the left, threaded a ball through to Liam Marum but his poor attempt flew over the bar. Torquay came very close to opening the scoring in the 12th minute when Konan cleared off the line. Almost immediately, though, Woking countered, with Marum hitting the post. Woking maintained the pressure but the Gulls broke quickly, with Wayne Carlisle heading just over the bar.
The next chance fell to Sills as he forced a smart save from Ross Worner after a knock-down from Kevin Nicholson. But the Cards continued to have their share of the game, passing the ball very well at times, and responded with a rifled effort from Konan after Vernazza?s first attempt had been blocked. But Torquay went very close on the half-hour mark when fine build-up play by Mansell and Benyon released Tim Sills but his side-footed shot was saved by Ross Worner.
The commentators on Radio Devon had referred on several occasions to Gez?s reputation as a free-kick specialist ? and when the opportunity arose on the half-hour mark, Gez didn?t disappoint, with a brilliant kick into the top corner from some 25 yards which beat keeper Michael Poke all ends up. 1-0 to the Cards!
Woking continued to press forward in the following few minutes, with the Torquay defence coming under considerable pressure. The Gulls, for their part, were unable to get any real rhythm going, to the frustration of their fans, but pressed for an equaliser just before half-time The Cards held out, though, to preserve their lead, having had the best of the first half.
Half-time: Torquay United 0 Woking 1
The Cards nearly doubled their lead immediately when Marum latched onto a through ball from El Kholti but hit the side netting.
The Gulls started to show signs of life as they tried to feed the speedy Danny Stevens on the flank but the Cards were usually able to snuff him out. Benyon came very close as he broke through but was wrestled off the ball by a combination of Tom Hutchinson and Ross Worner. But Woking?s pace up front disconcerted the Gulls? defence once more and only a last-ditch challenge by their skipper, Chris Hargreaves, foiled the Woking attack.
A Danny Bunce free-kick saw Joel Ledgister steaming in at the far post, but Poke pulled off a fine save. Ross Worner matched Poke as he prevented an own goal from Danny Bunce after a swift Torquay attack. Worner did well to prevent Sills from scoring with a downward header from the resulting corner. But Woking went straight up the other end, with Konan going close, as they put the Gulls? central defence under pressure again with quick breaks.
However, the Cards? lead vanished in the 60th minute when Elliot Benyon controlled the ball superbly and lashed home to make it 1-1 from 12 yards. He almost grabbed another as he flicked the ball over his own head and volleyed just wide.
Sills? shot from a tight angle was tipped round the post by Ross Worner as the Gulls raised their game, with substitute Mustapha Carayol prominent. Miles saved the day with a tackle but the Gulls ramped up the pressure as Sills headed onto the top of the bar and Wayne Carlisle went close. It sounded as though it was only a matter of time before Torquay added a second as wave upon wave of attacks bore down on the Woking goal. The Cards survived vociferous claims for a penalty after Benyon was brought down in the box by Colin Miles. But the goal came with ten minutes to go as Benyon played in Carlisle, who finished cleanly.
Woking tried to get back into the game as a chance fell to Konan after good work by Sam-Yorke but the opportunity was spurned. The only other half-chance fell to Matt Pattison, but his speculative effort went over the bar.
Tim Sills should have made it 3-1 in injury time when he went round Ross Worner in a one-on-one but Konan cleared off the line.
POST-MATCH COMMENTS FROM DAVID HOLMES
David kindly phoned me after the match to pass on his comments on the game. David was very impressed with our first half performance, saying that we played some superb football, flooding forward with pace. Liam Marum worked extremely hard up front as the lone striker but was well supported by the central midfield of Gez Sole and Matt Pattison and by Joel Ledgister and Abdou El Kholti. Our pace caused the Torquay defence lots of problems and there was an interesting clash between Liam and Torquay?s grizzled Chris Hargreaves. It was the latter?s foul on Liam which produced the free-kick from which Gez scored. David described the free-kick as ?stunning?: it went over keeper Poke and just dipped under the bar.
In the second half, though, Torquay came more into the game and seemed to profit from the fact that they were playing into the wind, having over-hit balls in the first half. Both Torquay goals were extremely well taken and Ross Worner did well to get his hand to the first. Sills should have scored a third goal for the Gulls but, in David?s view, such a scoreline would have been very harsh.
David thinks that, if we can play at Kingfield like we did in the first half tonight, and sustain it for longer, the crowd would soon get behind the team.
Woking: Ross Worner, Danny Bunce, Tom Hutchinson, Colin Miles, Patrice Konan, Abdou El Kholti, Liam Marum (Delano Sam-Yorke, 64), Matt Pattison, Paolo Vernazza, Joel Ledgister, Giuseppe Sole (Bradley Quamina, 64)
Subs: Nick Gindre, Paul Lorraine, Bradley Quamina, Goma Lambu
Booked: Joel Ledgister, Bradley Quamina, Matt Pattison
David Holmes?s MOTM: Ross Worner