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Shaw looks easy for Reds as Cards fail to capitalise

Ray Avards - 8th September 2013

Shaw looks easy for Reds as Cards fail to capitalise Alfreton Town 3 -1 Woking
Skrill Conference Premier
7th September 2013

The Cards contrived to lose yet another game in which they had plentiful spells of possession, failing to make their mark at the Impact Arena by taking any points away with them this time.

Joe McNerney replaced the unavailable Adam Newton in a 4-4-1-1 set-up that looked flexible enough against Alfreton’s orthodox 4-4-2 formation, apart from the pressure upon Gez Sole coming in to displace Gavin McCallum at the point of the attack. Sadly, they were behind again as early as the 9th minute when McNerney was easily bypassed on his outside by former Cards trialist Akinde, looking lively and dangerous throughout, to pull back from the byline and find Tom Shaw stabbing home between Howe and Parkinson.

Within a minute, Gavin Williams, played in on the left deep in the penalty area and without much angle, had his marker going down early and handling without obvious intent. This did not deter referee England throwing the Cards a lifeline by pointing to the spot immediately. Williams coolly drove home the other way as capable keeper Ross Atkins, a Derby County loanee, dived left to make it 1-1.

Soon Brett Johnson was sacrificed, seemingly tactically for the price already paid. This allowed John Nutter on at right back with McNerney switched to partner Jack Parkinson in central defence.

Williams shot wide trying his luck out on the right. Mike Cestor, full of energy and willingness to support Kevin Betsy on the left, was frustrated with himself for an unfortunate mis-control for a corner, typical of the Cards' uncertainty in decisions at the back. It enabled the Reds’ skipper Nick Fenton’s back-post header from the corner, to set up an overhead kick blocked by Jack Parkinson, always getting a foot or a shoulder there for the cause.

It could so easily have been 2-1 to the Reds when Akinde broke the Cards’ line for a straight through pass and Cestor appeared to half pull him back in the box, slide tackle and smuggle the ball away.

Woking gathered in attack. First, Mike Cestor found space after good work from Lee Sawyer and Betsy, but his angled drive was way over. Gez Sole ought to have done better one-on-one when put inside deep in the left of the area, but Atkins was out to smother the shot.

Josh Payne had gripped the midfield, despite getting booked for thwarting an Alfreton break-out in their own half from a corner, and he put Gavin Williams in the clear with time, 15 yards out. He hammered his shot against the underside of the bar. Betsy, following up, could only get the top of his head on the rebound and the goal shout died in the throats of the few Cards fans.

Alfreton were carving out chances too as Fenton, again, headed onto the roof of the net and Clayton’s beautifully struck free-kick from 30 yards shaved almost the same spot on the rigging. A corner had beaten Aaron Howe but Parkinson was on hand to head out from under the bar. Sole conceded another free-kick when he appeared to beat his man on the attempted break-out but was penalised. Penned in by set pieces, Wood’s long throw was only half punched out by Howe and, although Parkinson blocked one shot, the bounce favoured Shaw and he again did not miss close in to see the hosts retake the lead.

Alfreton flared into life again but could not create a decisive opening before the half closed.

Half-time Alfreton Town 2 Woking 1

A familiar pattern ensued in the second half, once Woking settled down, after early Alfreton inroads. Corners were conceded to the Reds as they attempted to get round the back of the defence with a vital interception by Jack Parkinson from Wood’s cross, linking well with Bradley, to stretch Cestor.

Betsy probed willingly and for Cestor to cross but no one was on hand and Atkins punched clear. Williams also launched another unmet cross. He tried his luck from just inside the Alfreton half with an extravagant chip but Atkins was alert enough to backpedal and clutch on his line.

Woking’s prompting and probing had urgency as Alfreton concentrated on the break. Sole was replaced by McNamee with 25 minutes left and he went wide left for Betsy to try his luck up front.

Frustration for the home fans too as Bradley was way over the crossbar from well outside Woking’s area. Closer in, Parkinson had to head over his own bar as Wood, set up by Clayton, combined on the Cards’ left.

Betsy got so close with a twisting run into the heart of Alfreton’s box and placed a shot across Atkins, who just got a hand to push around his post for a corner. At the other end Howe was forced to rush out and thwart Akinde on the edge of his area.

McNamee crossed without reward and then curled a shot clutched by Atkins. Mark Ricketts shot over left-footed. McCallum joined in as Payne made way, and McNerney was pushed up with Betsy as the clock ticked down. Nutter too, but he could find no one on the end of a move with Sawyer. Another scare for Alfreton and a genuine handball shout when the ball was clawed away from the line but ignored by referee England this time.

Danny Meadows joined the action for Clayton and was well rewarded. The inevitable breakaway and Bradley contrived to shoot straight at a defenceless Howe, but Akinde was on hand to reset for Meadows, who fired neatly inside Woking’s right-hand post for the coup de gras.

In truth, Woking got through three centre forwards, as Sole, Betsy and McNerney tried to provide a point for their attacks. By obvious comparison, John Akinde exercised the skill and muscle up front for Alfreton that the visitors' approach play lacked. This was a skilled and committed performance with superior technique in midfield, but again the Cards failed to score in open play, despite the more discerning locals recognising them as the better side.

Woking: Aaron Howe, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Brett Johnson (John Nutter 19’) Mike Cestor Mark Ricketts, Lee Sawyer, Josh Payne (Gavin McCallum 85’) Kevin Betsy, Gavin Williams, Gez Sole (Tony McNamee 65’)

Unused subs: Sam Beasant, George Frith

Booked: Josh Payne, Mike Cestor

Goals: Williams 10 (pen)

Alfreton Town: Ross Atkins, Dan Bradley Nick Fenton (c) Michael Wylde, Lathaniel Rowe–Turner, Tom Shaw, Dan Bradley, John McGrath, Josh Law, Paul Clayton (Daniel Meadows 87’), Job Akinde.
Unused subs: Connor Franklin, Kristian Ramsey-Dickson, Danny Wishart, Alastair Taylor.

Booked: Job Akinde

Goals: Shaw 9 & 43, Meadows 90+3

Attendance: 628

Referee: Darran England

My MotM: Josh Payne - when he pulled the strings in the first half Woking should have capitalised.
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