Cards stumble to third successive defeat
9:41pm, Sat 31st Aug 2013
Woking 1 Gateshead 2
The Skrill Premier
31st August 2013
Things went from bad to worse this afternoon at Kingfield as Woking succumbed to their third consecutive defeat against a spirited, but limited Gateshead team who seized their chance to come away with the spoils against a home team which is currently desperately low on confidence.
After a bright start, the Cards found themselves two goals behind after half an hour thanks to a deflected effort from James Brown and a further strike from Jamie Chandler. A more positive second half saw the home side eventually reduce arrears as a result of a Gavin Williams penalty kick in the ninetieth minute but it was always going to be too little too late.
Woking lined up in a 4-5-1 formation. In front of Aaron Howe was a back four of Adam Newton, Brett Johnson, Jack Parkinson and Mike Cestor. The midfield comprised captain Mark Ricketts, in his customary holding position, Kevin Betsy, Lee Sawyer, Gavin Williams and GavinMcCallum. Joe McNerney reprised his role as a makeshift, lone striker.
The Cards started confidently and from an early corner McNerney lost his marker but his header from eight yards out went narrowly wide. Shortly afterwards, Betsy went close following a good cross from McCallum. After eighteen minutes, another half-chance went begging when a searching cross from Cestor caused havoc in the visitors' defence but McCallum drove his shot high over the bar.
Having survived this early pressure, Gateshead began to find their feet and, against the run of play, took the lead on twenty minutes. James Brown burst through a couple of half-hearted challenges and unleashed a shot from the edge of the penalty area which took a slight deflection before looping over Aaron Howe and into the roof of the net.
This setback clearly knocked the stuffing out of the home side, who found it increasingly hard to gain a foothold in the game and, on the half-hour, they found themselves further behind. James Brown was again at the heart of matters as his decisive play created an opening for Jamie Chandler to round off an excellent move by volleying high into the net from four yards out.
Woking now looked to be having real problems as Gateshead, on a high after finding themselves two goals to the good, started picking up all the loose balls and winning the 50/50 challenges. The home team continued to have a reasonable amount of possession but without looking as though they had the cutting edge to cause their opponents any real problems. The final action of the half saw the Cards force two corners, neither of which came to anything and the team trudged off at the break looking somewhat dispirited.
Half-time: Woking 0 Gateshead 2
The home team took the game to their opponents at the start of the second half but, symptomatic of the current confidence levels in the side, Adam Newton shanked his cross over the bar when in a good position to cause some damage. Moments later, Gavin Williams hoisted a dangerous free-kick into the Gateshead penalty-box but there was nobody on hand to apply the finishing touch. The visitors immediately counter-attacked and should probably have made the game safe but James Brown pulled a good chance wide of the post.
The same player missed another golden opportunity after fifty-five minutes when he was played through a square and static home defence but he again screwed his shot wide.
With it looking increasingly unlikely that the Cards were going to get back in the game, Garry Hill used his three substitutions between the sixty-second and seventieth minutes, replacing McCallum, McNerney and Newton with Freddie Ladapo, Giuseppe Sole and Anthony McNamee respectively and playing with a back three.
These changes seemed to add impetus to the team and they proceeded to have their fair share of the play without ever really looking as though they would pull a goal back. However, with time ticking away, they were offered a lifeline when Jack Parkinson's cross from inside the box struck Liam Hatch standing just a few feet away and the referee deemed it a deliberate hand-ball. As he did against Aldershot, Gavin Williams stepped up and, notwithstanding some prevarication from a few of the Gateshead players, confidently blasted the penalty past Adam Bartlett.
Five minutes of added-on time was signalled by the fourth official and one sensed that one final chance might come Woking's way. True enough, with only seconds remaining, Kevin Betsy jinked into the area and laid a perfect ball into the path of Freddie Ladapo fifteen yards out. However, just when the young striker needed to show some composure, he shot wildly wide of the near post and the chance was gone. There was still time for Lee Sawyer to have an effort charged down before the referee blew for the end of the match.
After a dispiriting fourth defeat in five matches, the Cards now find themselves languishing in twentieth place. They clearly need an upturn in fortunes before a bad run of results turns into a crisis. Garry and Steve are experienced enough, however, not to panic and to plot their way out of these early season difficulties. Hopefully, the return of Josh Payne from suspension next week will spark the team's revival.
Woking: Aaron Howe, Adam Newton (Anthony McNamee 70), Brett Johnson, Jack Parkinson, Mike Cestor, Mark Ricketts, Lee Sawyer, Gavin Williams, Kevin Betsy, Gavin McCallum (Freddie Ladapo 62), Joe McNerney (Giuseppe Sole 70)
Unused subs: Sam Beasant, John Nutter
Goals: Williams (pen) (90)
Gateshead: Adam Bartlett, Carl Magnay, Ben Clark, Luke O'Brien, Jamie Chandler, Josh Walker, Phil Turnbull, Colin Larkin (Richard Brodie 69), Craig Baxter, James Brown (Adam Boyes 69), Liam Hatch
Unused subs: Jordan Nixon, Micky Cummins, Marcus Maddison
Goals: James Brown (20), Jamie Chandler (30)
Cautions: Phil Turnbull (38), Jamie Chandler (87), Adam Bartlett (90)
Sponsor's MOTM: Mike Cestor - an energetic display, both defensively and when going forward