12:00am, Sat 20th Sep 2008
EBBSFLEET UNITED 2 WOKING 0
20 September 2008
This was always going to be a tough trip for the Cards. We?ve never won at Stonebridge Road in the league and the Fleet are unbeaten there this season. A very solid defensive display in the first half encouraged hopes that we might get a point but it all went wrong in one minute?s lack of concentration in the second half, when we shipped two goals, and our inability to create chances or put them away meant that we never looked like recovering from that scoreline.
Phil Gilchrist started with the same side that began against Grays apart from partnering Joel Ledgister, instead of Manny Williams, with Wilfried Domoraud up front. The contingent of over 200 Woking fans were reasonably happy for the first twenty minutes or so, during which time the play was pretty evenly balanced. Domoraud raised Cards? fans? hopes with a powerful run down the left flank in the first minute, skipping nicely over a tackle, before putting in a dangerous cross. At the back the central defensive trio of Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson and Colin Miles did an excellent job of frustrating the Fleet forwards, with the only efforts on goal comprising a weak header and a blaze over the bar, both from Stacy Long. Lenny Pidgeley caused a little anxiety, however, when, somewhat bizarrely, he chose to try to kick clear instead of picking the ball up. Further forward, Liam Marum made a couple of promising runs, picking the ball up in midfield and leaving Fleet players in his wake.
Increasingly, though, the Fleet pushed forward and Woking fell back. Crosses rained in ? all reasonably comfortably dealt with ? but you couldn?t help feeling that the defence would be hard pushed to withstand this pressure for the whole 90 minutes. A ball was bound to fall kindly for a Fleet forward eventually. The Cards? problems were compounded by the fact that, whenever the ball went forward, it came back quickly. Joel Ledgister, in particular, disappointed in his failure to get hold of the ball and then use it: one excellent pass out of defence by Gez Sole saw him simply run the ball out of play after failing to attack the Fleet defence.
Nonetheless, an excellent defensive display saw the side through to 0-0 at half-time, giving the team a foundation to build on if, as against Grays, they could move up a gear in the second half.
Half-time: Ebbsfleet United 0 Woking 0
A couple of promising moves soon after the break offered hope. Liam Marum broke well from defence and set Domoraud free on the left with a fine pass. His cross found Ledgister on the far side of the box but he doubled back instead of attacking and the chance was soon lost. Goma Lambu too spurned an opportunity to shoot when he had the goal in his sights.
The Fleet upped the pressure. Michael Gash forced a smart save, low down, from Lenny Pidgeley and Ricky Shakes blazed over when well placed, before Lenny plucked another effort from under the bar.
Suddenly, Woking?s hitherto sound defence cracked. It was hard to see exactly what happened but it seemed as though a back header ? intentional or otherwise ? from Tom Hutchinson fell between the back three and Lenny, and Kwesi Appiah, who?d barely been on the pitch for a minute, nipped in and looped a header over the keeper to give the Fleet a 1-0 lead.
No sooner had the game started than it was 2-0. A swift attack down the Woking left saw the ball centred and ex-Card Neil Barrett slid in to finish cleanly past Pidgeley.
It seemed very unlikely, in the light of their obvious attacking deficiencies, that the Cards could recover from such a shattering blow ? and, in truth, they never really looked like pulling one goal back, let alone two. There were half-chances for Joel Ledgister, heading over, and Domoraud ? one weak shot to the keeper and one blasted wide ? but keeper Lance Cronin was only tested (mildly) by a Quamina drive from the edge of the area.
The Fleet proceeded to pass the ball around neatly, in contrast to the generally hopeful balls played forward by the Cards, and nearly extended their lead. Barrett volleyed wide. Appiah headed against the bar from a fine cross by substitute Danny Slatter and Jamie Hand launched a long-range effort over the bar.
By this time Woking had brought on substitutes Manny Williams, Delano Sam-Yorke and Patrice Konan but none of them was able to make any real impact on an efficient Fleet defence.
So, a disappointing reverse after the hopes engendered by the win against Grays. On one view, but for a minute?s defensive lack of concentration, we would have got a point. But a more persuasive view is that we were second best by a considerable margin, with weaker passing, less creativity in midfield and little firepower up front.
The pressure will now be firmly back on Phil and his side in two difficult home games in the next seven days.
Woking: Lenny Pidgeley, Paul Lorraine, Tom Hutchinson, Colin Miles, Goma Lambu, Liam Marum (Delano Sam-Yorke, 69), Giuseppe Sole, Danny Bunce (Patrice Konan, 69), Joel Ledgister (Manny Williams, 59) Wilfried Domoraud.
Unused subs: Ross Worner, Matt Pattison
Booked: Giuseppe Sole
Attendance: 1498 (including 229 Woking fans)
My MOTM: not an easy choice, but my vote would go to Paul Lorraine (pictured) for a solid defensive display.