10 man Wings keep Cards at bay

Glen Harrington
8:55am, Sun 3rd Apr 2011
Woking 0 Welling United 0
Blue Square Bet South
2nd April 2011

Despite the Cards holding a man advantage for over half an hour they were ultimately left frustrated, unable to force their way past a stubborn Welling United defence. Woking now drop to eighth in the table, having failed to take advantage of Anthony Acheampong’s dismissal after receiving a second yellow card for holding back Elvis Hammond.

Garry Hill, unsurprisingly, made three changes to the team thumped at Eastleigh the week before, a result that ended the Cards' twelve-match unbeaten run in the league and halted an incredible play-off charge. His side showed off two new signings from transfer deadline day, with Lyle Taylor and Michael Doughty coming in, along with the return of Aswad Thomas. In turn, Reiss Noel and Moses Ademola dropped to the bench, while Jay Davies returned to Peterborough following his impressive loan spell.

The Wings came into the game with strong top five ambitions of their own, losing just one of their last eleven league ties, including ominous victories, home and away, over the Cards’ conquerors Eastleigh. Blue Square South’s top scorers United also started the day only six points adrift of leaders Braintree. The hosts' second highest league attendance of the season were desperately hoping to avoid a repeat of last season's corresponding fixture, which saw the Cards well beaten, 5-0.

Despite United keeper John Whitehouse juggling an early Andy Burgess free-kick it was the visitors who had the better of the opening stages, the likes of Andy Pugh and Loick Pires looking especially dangerous on the break, Welling’s first effort coming after just four minutes when Lee Clarke headed a Jack Obersteller cross straight at Andy Little. Soon after and Little was to the rescue again, forced into a strong diving save when Luis Cumbers broke one-on-one.

At the opposite end the Cards were slowly adjusting to the new additions within their 4-3-3 formation – Doughty slotting into the left of a three-man midfield alongside Ricketts and Burgess, with Taylor alongside Hammond and Dobson up top. Predictably, it was a piece of Craig Dobson trickery that sparked the hosts into life, beating three men down the right before finding Hammond – more than one of his victims left hacking at thin air as he sped past.

However, it was not long before Little was called into action yet again, a delicate chip over the defence from Clarke initially looking inch-perfect for Pires, until the Woking stopper raced out of his goal to block with his feet. New boy Taylor offered the Cards their best opportunity with a shot over, before Little again needed his wits about him to keep out a crashing twenty-five yard effort from Jack Parkinson.

Unfortunately, the half ended in ill discipline from both teams, United player-manager Jamie Day reduced to handbags with Hammond, seeing both players booked, before Acheampong saw yellow for persistent fouling. A sour end to what, despite the score-line, had been an entertaining first forty-five minutes.

Half-time: Woking 0 Welling United 0

The visitors started the second period as brightly as they had started the first, Clarke finding the run of Pires down the left, his cross narrowly missing the toe of a sprawling Pugh. Taylor headed over tamely for the Cards before Pires snatched at another chance, shooting straight across the face of goal.

The big turning point came on the hour mark. Hammond, who had been causing headaches all afternoon for the Wings defence, turned his marker Acheampong and started towards goal. The big defender, anxious to make up for his error, tugged back the Ghanaian repeatedly before eventually pushing him to the floor. The referee was left with no choice but to send Acheampong on his way.

The game changed dramatically, Welling suddenly leaving Pugh up front on his own and setting about securing a point, in the knowledge that they were one of the more secure members of the top five, and that a draw would suit them far more than their hosts.

As their visitors dropped off, so the Cards responded by pushing further and further forward, Hammond beating his man on the touchline and pulling back for Taylor, who was only denied by an excellent saving block from Parkinson. Minutes later and Dobson’s attempt to curl a free kick into the top corner looked to have worked, a late deflection all that saved the blushes of keeper Whitehouse, frozen to the spot.

With fifteen minutes to go Garry Hill and Steve Thompson rolled all the dice available to them, throwing on, first, James Walker, then Moses Ademola, and finally Nathan Koranteng as Cards supporters lost count of the number of forwards they had on the field. It looked not enough, a Hammond shot over and a tame Dobson effort as close as Woking came in regulation time.

Cue stoppage-time mayhem. Ricky Anane almost made himself the unlikely hero as a twenty-yard skimmer was smartly kept out by Whitehouse, holding the ball at the second attempt, having dived low to his right. Next, an astonishing passage of play saw three United players booked in three separate incidents – Pugh throwing himself to the ground in the Woking area (simulation), leaving Parkinson berating the referee more than necessary (dissent), before Clarke’s cynical trip on Thomas justified his place in the book. There was just enough time for Ademola to latch on to Dobson’s clever chipped free-kick, only to shoot wide from ten yards.

So once again the Cards are at the back of what looks like an eight-team pack. Braintree and Farnborough, still separated by a single point, look set to battle for the title alone following United’s draw, while the Wings will be joined by Ebbsfleet, Chelmsford, Dover, Eastleigh and Woking in the chase for those final three spots.

Although a draw with high-flying Welling is by no means a disaster, especially considering last weekend’s nightmare, it almost certainly means that maximum points must be taken from winnable games against Dorchester, Dartford and Bishop’s Stortford in the next two weeks. This is all before the crunch-tie with local rivals Farnborough on 23rd April. Assuming both sides still have plenty to play for, that will be one not to miss, but until then it’s down to the Cards to focus on this Tuesday’s task of the Magpies, who today claimed an impressive 1-1 draw at Braintree.

Come on, you Cards!

Woking: Andrew Little, Ricky Anane, Aswad Thomas, Mark Ricketts (Nathan Koranteng 86), Joe McNerney, Adam Doyle, Craig Dobson, Andy Burgess, Lyle Taylor (Moses Ademola 81), Elvis Hammond, Michael Doughty (James Walker 75).

Unused Subs: Reiss Noel, Matt Pegler.

Goals: None

Bookings: Hammond 42, Anane 70, McNerney 80.

Welling United: John Whitehouse, Loui Fazakerley, Jack Obersteller, Anthony Acheampong, Graeme Andrews, Jack Parkinson, Jamie Day, Lee Clarke, Luis Cumbers, Andrew Pugh, Loick Pires.

Unused Subs: Liam Bellamy, Andy Sambrook, Jordan Johnson, Louis Dennis, Ryan Dolby.

Goals: None

Bookings: Day 42, Acheampong 45 and 60, Pugh 90, Parkinson 90, Clarke 90.

Sent-Off: Acheampong 60

MOTM: Andy Little – A couple of excellent saves to keep the tie goalless during the visitors' period of dominance, assuring presence at the back and dealt well with United’s aerial threat.

Attendance: 1,475

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