Woking Football Club, The Laithwaite Community Stadium, Kingfield, Woking, Surrey, GU22 9AA01483 772470
Vail Williams
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29th August 2008


30 August 2008

The Cards lined up as they had at Oxford and, for most of the game, it seemed likely that there would be a repeat of the 0-0 scoreline at the Kassam Stadium as the Cards denied Kettering any real chances. But, once again, Woking looked toothless themselves and when the Poppies scored with their first shot in the second half, in the 81st minute, there was no way back for Kim Grant?s side.

The A-Line Stadium has had a change of name since our last visit but it was the same old Rockingham Road we?ve visited so many times over the years. And the Kettering side assembled by Mark Cooper looked fairly familiar too, with two towering centre backs in the shape of the giant Exodus Geohaghon ? what a brilliant name! ? and the burly Guy Branston. Manny Williams barely reached Exodus?s chest!

But it was Manny who had the first effort on goal after three minutes, shooting comfortably wide. Delano Sam-Yorke, whose fondness for late tackles on defenders was very evident at Oxford, quickly found himself in the referee?s notebook ? perhaps a bit unluckily, since no warning was given for a first offence. Kim will have to encourage Delano to be a little more discriminating in his welcome desire to put defenders under pressure.

The match descended into a rather dour struggle, with Kettering having more of the attacking play but rarely troubling a very solid Woking defence, backed up by a confident Lenny Pidgeley.
In the 15th minute Manny had his second effort on goal when the ball popped up nicely for him in the box but he was wide again. Abdou El Kholti then fired in a wicked low cross, which was cleared for a corner.

Kettering?s best strike on goal came in the 20th minute when Tom Hutchinson?s glancing headed clearance from a corner resulted in a quick-reaction header from Craig Westcarr, but Lenny was in precisely the right spot to gobble it up. The Cards then rode their luck as a cross flew right across the face of the goal.

The Poppies attempted to step up the pressure but didn?t help their cause with some wasted free-kicks and over-hit through balls. The Cards added to the disjointed play with some bizarre cross-field balls from Vernazza, Miles and Konan, all of which went out of play.

In the 35th minute Manny broke down the right, hitting a low cross which the Poppies? keeper was glad to pounce on. Kettering had perhaps their best chance just before the interval when Gareth Seddon sent in a weak-ish shot which Pidgeley parried comfortably. Danny Bunce came on for the injured Miles just as the half ended.

Half-time: Kettering Town 0 Woking 0

The Oxford game plan seemed to be going well as the Cards had much the better of the opening phase of the second period, penning the Poppies in their half for an extended spell, helped by some huge kicks down-wind from Pidgeley. Gez had three free-kicks in central positions, the second of which forced the Poppies? keeper to dive low to his left to push the ball away. In between Manny wasted a decent opportunity as he failed to connect properly after Vernazza had created an opening for him. Danny Bunce fired over the bar before Matt Pattison replaced the injured El Kholti and Liam Marum came on for Delano Sam-Yorke.

It wasn?t until some 20 minutes into the half that Kettering managed a meaningful attack, the ball flying across the goalmouth from a throw-in. For a short while the Cards continued to look the more threatening as Liam and Bradley Quamina both had shots well blocked and Matt Pattison fired in a dangerous cross which two on-rushing forwards just failed to reach.

But then, out of the blue, in the 81st minute, the Cards threw away the point which they had worked so hard to preserve. Patrice Konan missed his tackle on the Woking right. The ball was played in. It looked as though there was still an opportunity to clear it but Marna was allowed to turn and shoot. Lenny looked as though he got a hand to the ball but couldn?t prevent it going in.

The Cards, who had already switched to 4-4-2, threw Tom Hutchinson forward and, inevitably, this opened the way for more Kettering attacks. But it was Tom who came closest to an equaliser as his bicycle kick went narrowly wide after Paul Lorraine had headed back a corner.

Lenny Pidgeley kept the Poppies? lead to a single goal as he made a superb tip over the bar with four minutes remaining, but the Cards never looked like making them rue this chance to make the game safe.

On the balance of play the Cards deserved a draw but, if you cannot put the ball in the net yourself, you are always going to be vulnerable to the one moment of brilliance or ? in this case ? the one serious defensive lapse of the afternoon.

 Lenny Pidgeley, Patrice Konan, Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson, Colin Miles (Danny Bunce 45), Abdou El Kholti (Matt Pattison 63), Giuseppe Sole, Bradley Quamina, Paolo Vernazza, Manny Williams, Delano Sam-Yorke (Liam Marum 60)

Unused subs: Ross Worner, Adekunle Salau

Booked: Delano Sam-Yorke, Bradley Quamina

Attendance: 1,493

My MOTM: Lenny Pidgeley (pictured)

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