'Thommo in the last few minutes'

Bob Cumming
6:00pm, Sun 7th Aug 2011
Heybridge Swifts 2 Woking 2
Pre-Season Friendly
6 August, 2011

The Cards returned to Scraley Road for the first time since their FA Trophy quarter-final triumph in 1997, which still retains the official record attendance at the ground, a game which features highly in the Swifts’ fans memories. Few Woking fans made the journey, and those that did battled with horrendous travel difficulties on the roads, caused by the closure of all lanes at the M25 between junctions 7-8, and an accident on the A12 near Chelmsford. To compound that, neighbouring Maldon was holding its town carnival, and many neighbourhood roads were closed. This left around one hundred hardened supporters eagerly awaiting the Cards’ last pre-season game.

Garry Hill had a final chance to cast his eye over a few fringe players, and a surprise trial debut from a New Zealander centre-half who had been playing at a reasonable standard in Italy. Garry was still not sure of his surname at the beginning of the match, suggesting that his name might be Sam Morgan, and that he would need international clearance if he were to be signed.

The Cards lined up with Little in goal; Newton, Morgan, Doyle and Cousins in defence; Griffiths, Ricketts, Davies and Koranteng in midfield; and Sogbanmu and Gray up front.

Within the first four minutes Woking lost Ola Sogbanmu, stretchered off after both he and Wayne Gray had both attempted a tackle on a Swifts midfielder and a trailing foot caught his ankle. Elvis Hammond came on as substitute.

Throughout the game Swifts No.9 Luke Callender, tall and solid, conducted Swifts’ attack with a deft touch around the box. Early in the half he set up Hawkins for a chance chipped over the bar, and then again for the same player to slice wide of the post. Not surprisingly, Callender, on 21 minutes, shoulder charged Adam Doyle to the ground, allowing Bertie Brayley to chip over Andy Little, who could only fingertip the ball into the net.

Jay Davies, who was purring in midfield, had a taxing free-kick saved at full stretch by keeper Willis, and the midfielder’s regular supply of passes often set either Griffiths or Cousins free to deliver deep crosses from the wings. Elvis Hammond weaved into space on 40 minutes to unleash a fierce drive which the keeper parried for a corner, but otherwise the Cards were well marshalled in front of goal.

Half-time: Heybridge Swifts 1 Woking 0

Five minutes into the second half Mark Ricketts was replaced by Jack King.

On 53 minutes Nathan Koranteng passed wide to Anson Cousins, who delivered a low and firm cross which was drilled home by Jack King from the edge of the box. This prompted a flurry of half chances with Koranteng, Davies and Hammond each being blocked by a defender.

Callender and Doyle continued to have their personal battle, and on 58 minutes, Callender turned Doyle to drill an angled drive into the top of the net.

Koranteng, who had to work hard to achieve the same level as in previous games, set up a couple of chances, and on 68 minutes Wayne Gray came into the game. Jay Davies set him up with a tremendous through ball, which he fired wide of the post. On 73 minutes Elvis Hammond turned on the edge of the box to slip the ball through to Gray, who drilled home, only to see the assistant referee raise his flag for offside. A minute later Gray turned in the box to drill a firm shot against the foot of the post, and just one minute after this Gray received the ball on the edge of the box, turned and was unceremoniously pulled down by Swifts’ centre half, Lee Kersey. Jack King stepped up to confidently drive home the penalty.

On 81 minutes Steve Thompson (pictured) pulled on the substitute’s shirt to return to play for Woking. Despite his years he still has the same clever touch and it was he who had the last chipped attempt on goal in the last minute.

Garry Hill will probably want to work on defensive roles in the coming week, and sharpen up the forwards, but there appears to be plenty of options if he can keep most of this squad together. There were promising performances from the Academy lads, Griffiths and George Frith. The new lad at centre half has obviously played at a reasonable standard even if he was sometimes struggling for pace and fitness.

Woking: 1. Andy Little, 2. Adam Newton, 3. Anson Cousins, 4. Mark Ricketts (14. Jack King, 50’), 5. Sam Morgan, 6. Adam Doyle, 7. Josh Griffiths (17. Steve Thompson, 81’), 8. Jay Davies (15. George Frith, 69’), 9. Ola Sogbanmu (12. Elvis Hammond, 7’) 10. Wayne Gray, 11. Nathan Koranteng

Not used: 18. Aaron Howe

Scorers: King 53’, 76’ penalty

Heybridge Swifts: Jason Willis; Billy Hawes, Dany Barber, Taylor Hastings, Lee Kersey, Nathan Smith, Ricky Griggs, Russell Pond, Luke Callender, Bertie Brayley, Ashley Hawkins

Subs – all used: Bradley Hooper, Charlie Gray, Jake Gibson, Mike Marsh, Mark Gaisford

Scorers: Brayley 21’, Callender 58’

Cautions: None for either side
My MOTM: Jay Davies
Attendance: approx. 100 (27 from Woking)

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