Cards Made To Rue Defensive Errors

Glen Harrington
7:56am, Sun 25th Aug 2013
Woking 2 Welling United 4

Skrill Conference Premier

24th August 2013

Despite dominating long periods of their match against Welling United, a disastrous 15-minute period mid-way through the first half meant that the Cards eventually succumbed to a 4-2 defeat.

After making a bright start, the home side fell behind to a bizarre mistake from goalkeeper Aaron Howe, who somehow contrived to deflect a Harry Beautyman corner into his own net. Defender Doug Bergqvist added the visitors' second with a calm header, while Beautyman, a triallist with Woking earlier this year, took advantage of Brett Johnson’s mistake to slot home a third. Johnson went some way to atoning for his error by pulling a goal back before the half-time break after good work on the left by Gavin Williams, but Jack Parkinson’s controversial red card soon after the re-start had the Cards on the back foot once again. Loick Pires, who had a fairly unsuccessful year at Kingfield last season, returned to haunt his former side as he headed Welling’s fourth from close range and, despite Joe McNerney almost instantly reducing the deficit to two with a header from Anthony McNamee’s well-taken corner, the Wings were simply able to protect their lead for the remainder of the game.

Garry Hill’s side began the match with two changes from the side that won at Chester last Saturday – McNamee replacing the suspended Josh Payne, and new signing George Bowerman relegating fellow striker Freddie Ladapo to the substitutes' bench. McNamee started on the left-hand side of a five-man midfield, with Kevin Betsy on the right and Williams moving into a more central role alongside Lee Sawyer and Mark Ricketts.

Woking began the game well, and could have gone ahead when McNamee’s cross, whipped across the box from the right-hand flank, found its way to Betsy at the back post, only for a combination of goalkeeper and defender to smuggle the ball behind for a corner.

After struggling for possession in the opening exchanges, the visitors found the net after mounting their first serious attack of the game, albeit in fortuitous circumstances. Having initially done well to turn Jake Gallagher’s low drive around the post for a corner, a moment of madness from Howe saw him attempt to punch clear Beautyman’s resulting set piece – despite being under minimal pressure – and only manage to deflect the ball agonisingly back into his own net.

Buoyed by having been gifted a surprise lead, Welling kicked on, and scored a second just four minutes later – Bergqvist, in oceans of space in the Cards' penalty area, coolly cushioning a header from Joe Healy’s cross comfortably past Howe.

The Woking stopper had to be back to his best to stop the Wings adding to their lead yet further – palming away a hopeful effort from Jack Obersteller, before denying Kurtis Guthrie in a one-on-one situation.

McNamee, one of the brighter Woking players throughout the day, came close to grabbing a goal back for the hosts as he forced a fine save from visiting keeper Lee Butcher with a long-range effort, while he was also unlucky not to find Bowerman with another of his dangerous crosses.

Unfortunately for the Cards, who had been working their way back into the match, disaster struck again on the half-hour mark. Johnson, dwelling too long over an attempted clearance, allowed Ross Lafayette to steal the ball off his toe. The Wings’ top scorer unselfishly squared for Beautyman, who tucked his shot neatly under the despairing dive of Howe.

Woking did deservedly get themselves on the score-sheet ten minutes later: Bowerman holding the ball up well in the Welling penalty area and laying it out wide for Williams, whose neat pull-back found Johnson lurking on the edge of the area, allowing the defender to fire high into the net and redeem his earlier error.

The Cards proceeded to finish the half strongly, and could have narrowed the gap yet further when McNamee found Bowerman at the back-post, only for the ball to escape the young striker’s feet and bobble into the grateful arms of Butcher.

Half-time: Woking 1 Welling United 3

Whatever the Woking management team said and planned at half-time had to be immediately scrapped, as after a matter of seconds Parkinson picked up his second yellow card and, with it, a red against his former club. The defender will no doubt feel aggrieved at his punishment – his first yellow (picked up mid-way through the first-half), given for a late challenge in midfield, was no worse that several other challenges that went unpunished in the opening period, while his second was issued for an inconspicuous elbow aimed towards the head of Lafayette. By the letter of the law the referee was entitled to send him off, but the decision certainly appeared to be a harsh one to say the least.

Woking quickly changed tack, bringing on McNerney and Mike Cestor in place of Williams and John Nutter, while rearranging their line-up to a 3-4-2 formation which included McNerney partnering Bowerman up-front. However, this left the Cards short on numbers defensively, and inevitably, Welling took advantage with a flowing counter-attack move mid-way through the second-half: Healy crossing for the unmarked Pires to head home, cueing a lengthy and elaborate celebration from the striker – clearly aimed as both a parting gesture to his former side, and a delighted appreciation of his new supporters.

Not to be denied, the Cards came storming back again and, just two minutes, later pulled a goal back when McNerney nodded home McNamee’s in-swinging corner.

Betsy, McNamee and Cestor all saw efforts saved as, even with ten men, the Cards dominated the final 20 minutes of the match, while the visitors, protecting their lead, reduced themselves to playing purely on the counter-attack with Pires and the dangerous Lafayette.

Even a home debut for Ladapo, on loan from Colchester, could not force a third Woking goal, as the hosts eventually appeared to run out of steam as the match entered five minutes of added-on time.

Woking will take heart from their impressive second-half performance, but will be desperately frustrated at the manner in which they gave away the three early goals. Controversial or not, Parkinson’s red card is the Cards' third dismissal in as many games, and this apparent lack of discipline is undoubtedly something that Hill and assistant Steve Thompson will be keen to address.

The Cards will, of course, be without Parkinson when they make the short trip to Aldershot Town on Bank Holiday Monday, while Payne and Giuseppe Sole will also still be missing through suspension.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton, John Nutter (Mike Cestor 52), Jack Parkinson, Brett Johnson, Mark Ricketts, Gavin Williams (Joe McNerney 54), Lee Sawyer, Anthony McNamee, Kevin Betsy, George Bowerman (Freddie Ladapo 76).

Unused Subs: Sam Beasant, Gavin McCallum.

Goals: Johnson 38, McNerney 69.

Booked: Parkinson 18 & 46, Sawyer 52, Newton 62.

Sent-off: Parkinson 46.

Welling United: Lee Butcher, Doug Bergqvist, Fraser Franks, Blaine Hudson, Jack Obersteller, Alex Dyer, Harry Beautyman (Loick Pires 60), Jake Gallagher, Joe Healy, Kurtis Guthrie (Joe Obersteller 80), Ross Lafayette.

Unused Subs: Jamie Turner, Lee Clarke, Callum Webb.

Goals: Howe O.G. 15, Bergqvist 19, Beautyman 29, Pires 67.

Booked: Pires 79, Jack Obersteller 90.

MOTM: Mark Ricketts – A tireless effort as ever from the Cards' skipper in midfield. Tracked back well defensively, covering for Parkinson at centre back, while kick-starting many of the home side’s attacks with his clever passing.

Attendance: 1,330

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