Cheap goals cost Cards

Alan Worth
9:36pm, Sat 23rd Nov 2013
Cambridge United 2 Woking 0
The Skrill Premier
23rd November 2013

Woking were unable to build on their two recent confidence boosting home wins as they succumbed yet again to two early goals, the result of some poor defending, at the league leaders Cambridge United. Inside the first fifteen minutes the Cards, looking nervous and disorganised at the back, presented Cambridge with two goals and despite plenty of possession were never able to find a way back into a match dominated by the host’s excellent defence.

Garry Hill started with the same eleven that had managed to “get out of gaol� against Hyde last Saturday with Niall Wright replacing the injured John Goddard on the bench.

With only three minutes on the clock and Cambridge’s first attack the Cards were behind. Harrison Dunk was on hand to side foot home from five yards after confusion in the Woking box and a failure to clear their lines.

But Woking did create an opportunity to equalise seven minutes later. A good first time cross from Newton out wide on the right was met by a, for once, unmarked Scott Rendell but the striker was unable to get on top of his header and the ball flew over the bar. He will have been disappointed with that as in a game with few chances this was a clear goal scoring opportunity.

While Woking still struggled to deal with the pace of the Cambridge attack, up front Jack Marriott again showed his eye for goal as, ever alert, he bravely raced towards a loose ball with defenders closing in and blasted a shot from twenty-five yards just over the bar.

On fifteen minutes Cambridge had their second and again it came as a result of hesitant Woking defending. The ball was crossed in from the right and was met by Harrison Dunk who ran beyond Adam Newton to head home unopposed at the far post. To get anything from this game the Cards now had to repeat their escape act of last week against Hyde. The problem was this was at the home of the league leaders – six points clear at the top and on a run of nine wins at home. That tenth win already looked pretty inevitable.

Cambridge looked dangerous every time they attacked as Woking continued to struggle to clear long balls into their box and Beasant had to be out of his box quickly to clear a through ball with the dangerous Appiah closing in.

Just before the half hour mark the Cards had an opportunity to get back into the game. A delicious free kick from John Nutter found its way to the far post and as the ball bobbled in the Cambridge box Kevin Betsy had a couple of chances to stab the ball home from close range. However the excellent Chris Maxwell, the Cambridge keeper, was finally able to drop on the ball before it found its way into the net.

Charles Banya and Kevin Betsy were now beginning to see more of the ball as the Cards began to control the majority of possession. But it was never easy with both wide men closed down quickly by a well-marshalled Cambridge defence. Jack Marriott came close with an excellent effort after Woking’s best move of the half. He quickly controlled Rendell’s deft reverse pass, made space as he cut into the box and unleashed a fierce drive that Maxwell held down at the foot of his left hand post.

Cambridge were quick on the break and Cunnington blazed over from twelve yards after a cross in from the left was not cleared and another cross from Dunk on the left caused more confusion but was finally scraped away.

Half-time: Cambridge United 2 Woking 0

Garry Hill made an immediate change at the start of the second half with Mike Cestor replacing Jack Parkinson in the middle of the defence.

To be fair to the Cards they continued to look for a way back into the game and with the defence now looking a little more secure they generally dominated possession. However a mean Cambridge defence made it ever more difficult for the Cards to create any clear opening. Josh Payne (pictured) had a number of long-range efforts but these never troubled Maxwell. Woking’s wide men could not get in behind the Cambridge defence and were reduced to crosses in from wide positions that lacked the quality needed to trouble the host's back line.

As Cambridge soaked up the pressure with little problem they looked to counter quickly and Cunnington forced a low save from Sam Beasant as he got beyond Nutter and into the box. Another lightening break saw Liam Hughes dink the ball over Beasant but also just over the intersection of post and bar.

As Garry Hill made changes to freshen things up Woking continued to pass the ball well and maintain possession but the lack of quality in the final third was evident. A quick break by Betsy down the right flank and cross into the box found substitute Gez Sole but his athletic volley, as he fell backwards, was well over.

Woking continued to press for some form of consolation but on a cold and damp afternoon Cambridge looked cool and composed at the back. A cameo appearance from ex Card Delano Sam-Yorke showed that he still has plenty of pace as he set up a late chance for Hughes who put his shot just wide. And a trip by Joe McNerney on Sam-Yorke at the death handed the hosts a dangerous free kick on the right hand bye line and earned a card for the Woking defender. But the dead ball situation came to nothing as the Cards cleared their lines.

Few teams will get much from a visit to the Abbey Stadium this season as Cambridge showed why they are league leaders – a solid defence, the ability to break forward quickly in numbers to stretch the opposition and dangerous in front of goal. What will disappoint Garry Hill and his group of players is the way in which they continue to leak goals early on – and at Cambridge that was always going to make it very difficult to find a way back.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Adam Newton, John Nutter (Gez Sole 80), Mark Ricketts (Gavin Williams 75), Joe McNerney, Jack Parkinson (Mike Cestor 46), Kevin Betsy, Josh Payne, Scott Rendell, Jack Marriott, Charles Banya

Unused subs: Aaron Howe, Niall Wright

Cautions: Mike Cestor 52, Mark Ricketts 66, Jack Marriott 69, Adam Newton 83, Joe McNerney 90, Josh Payne 90

Cambridge United: Chris Maxwell, Greg Taylor, Josh Coulson, Ian Miller, Tom Champion, Adam Cunnington (Delano Sam-Yorke 78), Harrison Dunk (Michael Spillane 86), Richard Tait, Liam Hughes, Luke Berry, Kwesi Appiah

Unused subs: Will Norris, Mitch Austin, Nathan Arnold

Goals: Harrison Dunk 3, 15

Attendance: 3515

MOTM: Not easy to pick anyone from this disappointing team performance. However Josh Payne worked hard, had a couple of long-range efforts and helped to spread the play as the Cards did their best to look for an opening.

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