Cards Draw Blank at Triton Arena

Ray Avards
5:07pm, Fri 29th Mar 2013
Nuneaton Town 0 Woking 0
Blue Square Bet Premier
28th March 2013

Woking showed industry aplenty without ever being able to unlock Nuneaton in this hastily-rearranged game, thanks to the home side’s groundstaff and volunteers, on a pitch bordered by a margin of snow. Despite that or perhaps because of the recent blanket of snow the pitch looked reasonably good.

This result would have been no surprise to followers of form. Nuneaton’s escape plan from the bottom four has been dug out of 3 wins and 2 draws in six matches that have yielded only 4 goals scored in total, prior to the 2-2 draw here with Braintree last time out. The Cards took 11 games to register their first draw in the league and 33 for their third. Inevitably the pendulum has swung and they have gained parity in 5 of their last 8.

Given the limited numbers in their first team squad, Woking’s own rotation policy has meant management have been active in switching players’ positions around to freshen it up. Jack Parkinson returned to central defence for Brett Johnson and Mike Cestor stepped in for John Nutter in a familiar 4-5-1, allowing Bradley Bubb and Kevin Betsy to play wide in support of spearhead, Jayden Stockley.

Boro’ set about Woking from the off. York a threat on the right and Walker on the left. Sights of goal were restricted for both sides on a frost-bitten night as the Cards' cohesion in midfield nullified Boro’ thrusts. Jayden Stockley helped out the defence following Phillips' free-kick and Seb Brown saved Gavin Cowan’s effort. Jack Parkinson was on hand to block Armson’s shot and Adam Newton to divert O’Halloran’s cross.

Brown was called into action again to save from York on the half-hour mark. Fouls were given away with Cowan’s direct free-kick threatening the Woking goal. Yet it was Billy Knott, in behind the Boro’ defence at last, who should have scored but shot wide to Burge’s right.

Slick passing, flicks and touches between Stockley, Betsy and the midfiield hub especially threatened to unhinge Boro’s backline without creating clear shooting chances. Pressure was building on the home goal with first Joe McNerney and then Billy Knott ’s free-kick, the latter being returnedd to him for a shot well wide. McNerney also got up to head wide of the left-hand post after Kevin Betsy had a won a corner for Billy Knott to swing in at the near post.

The players looked glad to get in at half-time with honours even: Garry Hill’s concern being not enough chances to show for the amount of approach play.

Half-time: Nuneaton 0 Woking 0

From the start of the second half Woking were back on the offensive. Gavin McCallum replaced Stockley, freeing Betsy to operate ‘in the hole’ behind him and Bradley Bubb. This put the Cards on the front foot and threatened to take the game away from Boro’.

Betsy’s twists and turns with the ball probed the Boro’ right and Billy Knott made inroads from midfield on the left. Lee Sawyer, so often the spare man at the breakdown from corners or free-kicks, sought space to deliver a telling cross. In one break into the left-hand of the penalty area, he had the ball rolling under the sole of his boot to tempt the rash challenge or make a telling pass. Mike Cestor showed his close control later in a short run, weaving past four tackles.

Chances remained few and far between, though. Bradley Bubb when completely free got up at the far post to Adam Newton’s cross for Burge to save high and one-handed to his left but the flag was already up. Instead Dean, up from the back and winning a lot in the air for Boro’, was narrowly wide of the left-hand post through a crowd of players when a corner broke invitingly for him. York followed this up by shooting wide on the hour mark.

It was Phillips who next stung Brown’s fingertips with a rasping drive. Later, another raking shot was just over from the left-hand side of the area. Meanwhile Joe McNerney was prominent breaking up Boro’ thrusts as they increasingly relied on counter-attacks to get back in the game. His intervention was crucial to get his body in the way of the shot at an unguarded net when Brown came out to smother but the ball broke free.

Bradley Bubb again, from Sawyer’s cross, should have made the keeper work on 70 minutes, but did not get over the ball. His efforts were rewarded by a rest as young Adam Francis joined the action in his place just afterwards.

Boro’ were counter-attacking with good effect now, Aaron Phillips raiding on the overlap on the right, aided and abetted by York. Twice Phillips slid in low crosses and Seb Brown pawed Armson’s effort away at full stretch. Northampton loanee Louis Moult, who had joined the action for Adam Walker, lashed straight at Brown after the ball broke for him from the cut-back by the raiding Phillips.

Forsdick was booked for his challenge on Mark Ricketts that prevented a midfield break. A booking for Jack Parkinson also, following a prolonged niggle that seemed to involve more than him, at a corner. He was still discussing it with Referee Toner afterwards, perhaps a request for a photocopy of any report!

In the end the Cards held out with some energy to spare, which they will need to survive this punishing sequence of four games in seven days. The management team have been absolutely true to their word and applied their understanding of the steep learning curve for some of the younger players and a few of the older heads in this division. Woking have found a way to avoid defeat and are now a nuisance on an off day and a serious threat when they are on their game for any team they face.

Woking: Seb Brown, Adam Newton, Jack Parkinson Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor Mark Ricketts, Lee Sawyer, Billy Knott (George Frith 82), Kevin Betsy, Bradley Bubb(Adam Francis 74), Jayden Stockley(Gavin McCallum 46).

Unused subs: Elvijs Putnins, John Nutter

Cautions: Jack Parkinson 85

Nuneaton Town: Lee Burge, Aaron Phillips , Gavin Cowan, Gareth Dean, Simon Forsdick, Stephen O’Halloran, Adam Walker (Louis Moult 57), James Armson, Danny Sleath (James Dance 73), Wesley York, Andrew Brown.

Unused subs: Neil Cartwright, Delroy Gordon, Jon Adams

Cautions: Forsdick 78, Dean 85

Attendance: 609

MOTM: Seb Brown as his saves secured this hard-won point against opposition desperate for a win

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