Cards have to be content with a point

Brian Caffarey
8:41pm, Sat 12th Oct 2013
Woking 0 FC Halifax Town 0
Skrill Conference Premier
Saturday 12 October 2013

Garry Hill started with the same side which secured a 0-0 draw against Barnet in midweek and ended up with the same score in a match which followed a similar pattern. So, on the positive side, it’s now four games unbeaten and another clean sheet, but, with only two points to show from two successive home games, the Cards are finding it hard to drag themselves away from the wrong end of the table.

As against Barnet, Woking, kicking towards the Kingfield Road End, started brightly and took the game to the visitors, with most of the attacking play coming down the right, where Kevin Betsy had the beating of the full-back almost at will. But it was John Goddard, again looking lively, who showed up initially, cutting in deftly from the opposite side before shooting wide. Betsy then combined well with Scott Rendell, allowing the latter to get in a blocked shot – which was the fate of most of Woking’s efforts as the game progressed. The Woking pressure continued, with some fine build-up play involving Betsy and Adam Newton leading to a glanced, low header wide from Rendell. And then Betsy beat his man again, only to see his own shot blocked, with the same fate befalling Rendell’s follow-up.

The visitors were always likely to threaten at set pieces, with the huge Marc Roberts, dominant in the air in defence, moving up for corners and long throws. Their first real threat, predictably, came from a free-kick, with the ball travelling a long way across the box before being deflected wide. There was then a minor scare as Jack Parkinson, once again forming a steady central defensive partnership with the impressive Joe McNerney, misjudged a through ball, but the lively Lee Gregory produced a comfortable save for Sam Beasant.

Halifax, with only one previous point gained away from home, were clearly content to counter-attack and the play soon switched to the other end. Some fine interplay between Betsy and Gavin Williams led to a blocked Josh Payne effort at the far post, and the midfielder, who again looked strong in central midfield, had another effort blocked a couple of minutes later after more fine approach play from the Cards. In the meantime, though, Adam Smith had found a worrying amount of room behind the left of the Woking defence, blasting the ball right across the face of the goal for a throw-in on the other side.

The closest Halifax came to scoring was in the 22nd minute when a long throw was knocked down to Simon Ainge, who swivelled and fired over the bar. The Woking pressure resumed but, as before, Glennon in the Halifax goal was rarely called into action, as half-chances were blocked or went wide. Cards fans’ hopes were raised as Betsy’s superb charge through the middle led to an excellent chance for Rendell but, in virtually a replay of the chance which fell to Williams at a similar stage of the midweek game, he scuffed his shot well wide.

Woking’s lack of incisiveness was evident again as Williams and Betsy forced another attack but the latter seemed unsure whether to cross or shoot and the ball was cleared once more.

The Halifax keeper had a close shave shortly afterwards as he collected a through ball right on the edge of his area: to those of us standing in line with the edge of his area, he appeared to have first handled the ball just outside the area but the assistant referee kept his flag down.

The half ended with a Woking free-kick in a promising position but John Nutter’s shot hit Rendell and the ball was cleared.

Half-time: Woking 0 FC Halifax Town 0

The Cards started the second half slowly and never managed to rediscover the attacking momentum they had enjoyed for a good part of the first half. Betsy, though still seeing a lot of the ball, endured a frustrating time as the ball was nicked from him or he turned into a posse of players. An offside flag thwarted an early Halifax attack but there was little for the Woking fans in the Leslie Gosden Stand to get excited about till Rendell appeared to be barged over in the box in the 53rd minute, with the referee choosing to ignore all the penalty appeals.

McNerney had the best chance of the half in the 58th minute when the ball came through to him following a Nutter free-kick. Turning a few yards out, he shot but Glennon parried and Williams hit the rebound into the side-netting. Further Woking attacks petered out well before Glennon was called into action and hopes were raised only by rather hopeful appeals for a penalty for handball.

At the other end, Halifax periodically threatened as Gardner curled a free-kick narrowly wide and McNerney headed a dangerous cross clear as Beasant came for it too.

There was little more to note until Garry Hill decided to bring on Gez Sole and Anthony McNamee in the 77th minute for Williams and Goddard. Sole drew a foul in a promising position a few minutes later but his free-kick was blocked. He was then brought down inside the area but the referee ruled that the foul had started just outside. Payne’s curled free-kick bounced off the crossbar.

But the Cards might easily have conceded all three points in the closing minutes. John Wilson’s free-kick hit the post and the hard-working Gregory looked certain to score when he evaded a hesitant Beasant in chasing a ball over the top but lost his footing as he attempted to turn goalwards.

There were some encouraging signs again this afternoon. The defence looked pretty solid throughout and there was some fine approach play at times, especially when the side succeeded in getting the ball down on the ground. But, for all their possession, Garry Hill’s side did not threaten very much in the box, with the final ball often lacking, and, looking back on the game, the Halifax keeper only had a couple of serious saves to make.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Adam Newton, John Nutter, Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson, Mark Ricketts, Josh Payne, Kevin Betsy, Gavin Williams (Giuseppe Sole 77), John Goddard (Anthony McNamee 77), Scott Rendell

Unused subs: Aaron Howe, Mike Cestor, George Frith

Booked: Josh Payne (69), Joe McNerney (88)

FC Halifax Town: Matty Glennon, Ryan Toulson, Scott McManus, Marc Roberts, Lois Maynard, Simon Ainge, Matty Pearson, Adam Smith (John McRendy 82), Dan Gardner (John Wilson 82), Paul Marshall (Kevin Holsgrove 65), Lee Gregory

Unused subs: Danny Lowe, Phil Senior

Booked: Sean McManus (57),

Sponsor’s MOTM: Joe McNerney (pictured)

Attendance: 1552

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