Cards draw final warm-up game

Phil Batts
12:00am, Sat 3rd Aug 2013
Woking 2 QPR XI 2
Pre-season friendly
2nd August 2013

Woking completed their preparations for the forthcoming Skrill Conference Premier season with an entertaining 2-2 draw against a QPR XI, in essence the Championship club's elite (under 21) squad. The home side edged the first half and went ahead after only four minutes thanks to a direct free-kick from new signing Gavin Williams. QPR equalised five minutes before the break through striker Tom Hitchcock but the Cards regained the lead on the stroke of half-time when target man John Akinde converted a penalty. Parity was restored on sixty-eight minutes when the visitors deservedly equalised as a result of a Max Ehmer free-kick.

The Cards lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with many familiar faces from last season. Aaron Howe started in goal with a back four of Adam Newton, Jack Parkinson, Brett Johnson and John Nutter. The midfield comprised captain Mark Ricketts, Lee Sawyer, Gavin Williams and Kevin Betsy with Gavin McCallum and John Akinde up front.

The home team was quickest out of the blocks and almost took the lead as early as the second minute. Betsy won a free-kick deep in opposition territory and, from Williams' probing delivery, McCallum's clever back-flicked header was scrambled clear by the QPR defence.

Woking were not to be denied, however, and only two minutes later took the lead. Betsy was again hauled down and from the resulting free-kick, Williams stepped up and delicately curled his free-kick from the edge of the area into the left-hand corner of the net with an excellent strike.

This goal settled the Cards and they proceeded to play the ball around with customary style, Williams and Betsy being particularly eye-catching in the central areas. Akinde was also showing up well as the target man with some clever touches and hold-up play.

It was not all Woking, however, and the visitors gradually began to find their feet. A good break from Michael Petrasso, the Canadian under 20 international, caused havoc down the right before the Cards defence cleared with some difficulty.

The match was being played at a lively pace on an excellent surface and the ball was zipping around, mainly thanks to a rogue shower which, bizarrely, fell from a largely cloudless sky mid-way through the half.

Somewhat against the run of play, the QPR youngsters equalised on forty minutes. Michael Harriman, the visitors' full-back, made an incisive break down the right and played the ball in to front man Tom Hitchcock, who controlled the ball well and slotted home calmly from ten yards.

That seemed to be that for the first-half action but the Cards grabbed the lead on the stroke of half-time when Akinde went down in the box under an Ehmer challenge and the referee blew for what many in the ground seemed to consider a 'soft' penalty. Akinde got up to confidently dispatch the spot kick low to the 'keeper's left.

This was the last action of the opening period, which had produced plenty of commitment and good football from both sides.

Half-time: Woking 2 QPR XI 1

The start of the second half saw five changes to the QPR line-up and the Cards did similarly on sixty-eight minutes. In all, both teams made seven substitutions apiece in the final forty-five minutes and this inevitably led to a slightly disjointed feel to the match, with the home side unable to reproduce any sustained periods of quality attacking play as they had done earlier in the game.

As the half wore on, it became increasingly likely that the visitors might equalise rather than the Cards would extend their lead. Sure enough, after sixty-eight minutes, QPR were level. The Cards' defence gave away a free-kick in a central position on the edge of the area and the energetic Ehmer stepped up to drill the ball low to Howe's left.

The visitors had the better of the final quarter of the match but without showing any real cutting edge to suggest that they would grab the winner. Of the Woking substitutions, Anthony McNamee showed up well down the right flank, regularly jinking inside his marker and delivering telling crosses with his left foot and producing plenty of trickery to suggest that he could be a useful acquisition if signed for the season. Gez Sole also looked sharp and Niall Wright made a useful contribution following his introduction to the game.

With the match petering out, the final few minutes saw goalmouth action at both ends of the pitch but neither team was able to conjure a third goal. Firstly, the hardworking Harriman saw his effort cleared off the line by the Woking defence before Wright's effort from the edge of the penalty area was beaten away by the QPR 'keeper and the on-rushing Sole was just beaten to the ball by an alert defender.

Pre-season results do not, as we know, have much bearing on the forthcoming league campaign. There have been encouraging signs for the Cards, nevertheless, who have won four and drawn one of their six pre-season fixtures. The defence looks solid enough and are well-bedded in and familiar with each other having played together as a unit last season. There is plenty of creativity in midfield, which has been boosted by the arrival of Gavin Williams and Josh Payne, although this has to be balanced against the loss of the hugely influential Billy Knott, who will be much-missed by the Kingfield faithful following his return to his parent club Sunderland. It is up front where the question marks lie and it will be interesting to see what strike force Garry and Steve settle on as we wait expectantly for the opening league fixture of the season, at home next Saturday to Lincoln City.

Woking: Aaron Howe (Sam Beasant 77), Adam Newton, Brett Johnson, Jack Parkinson (Joe McNerney 77), John Nutter, Mark Ricketts (George Frith 68), Lee Sawyer, Gavin Williams (Niall Wright 68), Kevin Betsy (Guiseppe Sole 68), Gavin McCallum (Anthony McNamee 68), John Akinde (Danny Thomas 68)

Unused sub: Mike Cestor

Goals: Williams (4), Akinde (45 pen)

QPR XI: Aaron Lennox (Joe Lumley 46), Michael Harriman, Manni Monthe (Dylan Carreira 46), Josh Hunt- Laurent (Gaston 46), Sam Magri (Jordan Gibbons 46), Max Ehmer, Michael Petrasso, Frankie Sutherland, Tom Hitchcock (Pete Skepetis 56), Moe Shariff (David Fitzpatrick 62), Bruno Andrade (Ben Brown 46)

Goals: Hitchcock (40), Ehmer (68)

Caution: Ehmer (30)

Attendance: 988

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