Magpies steal it

David Richardson
7:37am, Sun 4th Mar 2012
Woking 0 Maidenhead United 2
Blue Square Bet South
3rd March 2012

A frustrating afternoon for the Cards with the gap at the top of the Blue Square Bet South now reduced to six points although Dartford have a game in hand. As Woking boss Garry Hill said afterwards, “Players now have to stand up and be counted and show some character.� It was one of those days when Woking were made to rue their missed chances.

As for the key moments - Maidenhead striker Charlie Strutton was deemed to have been fouled by Alan Inns in the penalty area and from the resulting spot kick Maidenhead full back Bobby Behzadi calmly slotted the penalty past Aaron Howe. Two minutes later Strutton himself got on the score sheet sliding the ball under Howe into the back of the net. It could have been so different had Jack King converted a penalty on the stroke of half time.

Garry Hill was forced to make one change to the team that drew a week ago at Hampton. Mike Cestor had to serve his one game suspension so Joe McNerney moved into centre back alongside Alan Inns with Adam Newton at right back and Adam Doyle moving to left back. Jack King and Keiran Murtagh paired up in the middle of midfield whilst the impressive Kevin Betsy started on the left, with the ever dangerous Moses Ademola on the right. Paris Cowan-Hall partnered Wayne Gray up front. Elvis Hammond returned from injury and started on the bench accompanied by Giuseppe Sole whose loan at Basingstoke ended on Monday. Woking lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.

The sun shone over Kingfield as Maidenhead got the game underway with danger man Ashan Holgate immediately forcing his way into the Woking box before Paul Semakula’s shot sailed over the bar. Paris Cowan-Hall had an early sight of goal in the 6th minute firing over from the edge of Maidenheads area. Cowan-Hall had a better chance seconds later when he almost latched onto a pass from Keiran Murtagh, which just evaded him. Stand in fullback Adam Doyle stormed down the left hand side and put a cross into Moses Ademola. However, the ball didn’t quite fall for him. Up the other end, a sliced clearance from McNerney fell to Holgate whose effort was deflected wide. From the resulting corner Holgate rose highest but, like his shot, it went wide.

In the 21st minute Ademola’s hooked effort caused little trouble for 19 year old goalkeeper Aaron Lennox on loan from Queens Park Rangers before Cowan-Hall had his best chance of the half two minutes later. A brilliant clipped cross from Ademola on the right hand side saw Cowan-Hall leap to head just over from inside the six yard box. Woking were having by far the better of the first half and this continued when Alex Wall’s weak free kick for the visitors was counter attacked by the Cards, resulting in Keiran Murtagh’s low shot going just wide of Lennox’s far post following some good link-up play by Wayne Gray.

Woking looked lively going forward with Kevin Betsy who was just unable to latch onto Ademola’s through ball; this incident came moments before the biggest talking point of the match. Ademola, involved once again, lofted a pass through to Cowan-Hall who raced forward on goal before being brought down by Magpies keeper Lennox. It looked to be just outside the area. The referee deemed it to be a penalty and showed Lennox a yellow card despite him being the last man. Jack King stepped up to the penalty spot and guided the ball to Lennox’s left, which the keeper read and made the save. There was maybe a semblance of justice here, although Woking would have felt aggrieved that Lennox remained on the pitch to make the save. Mark Nisbet almost added insult to injury heading wide from a corner.

The Cardinals had had a comfortable first forty-five minutes. However they hadn’t forced Lennox to make a save apart from the penalty. Woking were finding it difficult to replicate the clinical finishing they have shown earlier this season.

Half Time: Woking 0 Maidenhead 0

With Dartford winning at half time, Woking knew they had to get a positive result out of the game and that nearly came through Murtagh whose thunderous shot was blocked only minutes into the half. Betsy crossed from the left hand side to the head of Cowan-Hall who headed wide of the far post before some good interplay between Doyle and Betsy resulted in a corner that was taken short to Betsy himself who fired over. Wayne Gray had struggled to get involved in the game and was replaced by Giuseppe Sole. Maidenhead also made a change taking off Paul Semakula for Daniel Brown.

Doyle was enjoying a lot of space down Maidenhead’s right hand side creating a chance for Murtagh whose shot was, once again, blocked. In the 58th minute Giuseppe Sole then had a great opportunity to break the dead lock between the two teams. A first time pass from Ademola found the run of Sole who rounded Lennox and, with the goal gaping, put his shot wide from a tight angle.

The Leslie Gosden Stand roared into life and with the momentum in Woking’s favour they surged forward. Ademola worked his way into some space on the right and his low cross was cleared out for a corner. Murtagh’s floated delivery was cleared by Maidenhead to King, who was lurking on the edge of the area, and from about thirty yards he let fly a magnificent volley that Lennox could only parry wide to Ademola who put the ball back across the area to Cowan-Hall whose shot hit the post. The Magpies swiftly countered and Harry Pritchard saw his effort on goal go inches wide of Howe’s post. Maidenhead were living a charmed life leaving Woking feeling bemused at their lack of an opener.

The Woking onslaught prompted changes in the Magpies ranks. Charlie Strutton, on loan from AFC Wimbledon made his debut for Maidenhead, replacing Holgate up front before Brown shot over. Strutton then made his first impact. What seemed like a challenge for a ball between Alan Inns and the front man Strutton resulted in him going down and a penalty awarded. Behzadi slotted the ball into the bottom right hand corner sending Howe the wrong way after Inns was booked. Woking had it all to do but their task didn’t get any easier two minutes later in the 73rd minute. Strutton broke away from McNerney and fired under Howe into the back of the net. The travelling Maidenhead fans couldn’t believe it as their substitute striker reeled away in celebration.

Cowan-Hall looked for a quick reply but his shot was saved comfortably by Lennox. Garry Hill decided to make changes to find a way back into the game. Elvis Hammond and Dale Binns replaced Cowan-Hall and Ademola. Hammond immediately nearly found what Hill wanted. Sole flicked the ball onto Hammond who shot over. Devante McKain came on at centre back for forward Alex Wall to maintain Maidenhead’s lead. Strutton had another effort at Woking’s goal but Howe was a match to his shot. Frustration was starting to creep in into the Woking players and this was shown when Dale Binns allegedly lashed out at a Maidenhead player off the ball. The referee promptly stopped the game and showed Binns the red card.

Despite Woking’s best efforts to salvage something from the game the full time whistle sounded.
No doubt the Magpies had stolen the points and on another day Woking would have won comfortably. Garry Hill summed it up perfectly afterwards when he said, “it was a frustrating performance�. Hill also indicated that there might be a couple of new players added to the squad in the coming days.

So now Woking have 11 games remaining to clinch the title and despite a disappointing result they are still in the driving seat. Hill and Steve Thompson have done an outstanding job at Woking and their vast experience will be a key factor in the coming weeks that, fingers crossed, will still see Woking finish as Champions.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Keiran Murtagh, Alan Inns, Adam Doyle, Paris Cowan-Hall (Elvis Hammond 77), Jack King, Moses Ademola (Dale Binns 77), Wayne Gray (Giuseppe Sole 59), Kevin Betsy.

Unused Subs: Derek Duncan, Andy Little
Bookings: Alan Inns 70, Adam Doyle 88, Giuseppe Sole 90
Sent Off: Dale Binns

Maidenhead: Aaron Lennox, Bobby Behzadi, Leon Soloman, Paul Semakula (Daniel Brown 59), Mark Nisbet, John Scarborough, Martel Powell, Jermaine Hinds, Alex Wall (Devante McKain 79), Ashan Holgate (Charlie Strutton 67), Harry Pritchard.

Unused Subs: Manny Williams, Billy Lumley
Bookings: Aaron Lennox 43

Sponsors MOTM: Kevin Betsy
Attendance: 1777

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