Bulls overrun by first-half stampede

Ray Avards
1:22pm, Sun 1st Dec 2013
Hereford United 0 Woking 3
FA Trophy 1st Round

30th November 2013

Garry Hill rang the changes ahead of this game. Keiran Murtagh in midfield, back for his third loan spell, allowing ever-dependable Mark Ricketts to switch to right back, Mike Cestor continuing where he left off in the second half at Cambridge partnering Joe McNerney in central defence, allowing Adam Newton and Jack Parkinson to find places on the bench.

A match-up with Hereford’s 4-4-2 produced a slow start by both sides until the Cards showed their intent: Murtagh flicking on a Josh Payne free-kick and Charlie Banya shooting but both efforts were wide. The Cards then took the lead. Jack Marriott harried in midfield, dispossessed Leadbitter and ran deep into Bulls’ territory, before rewarding Banya’s supporting run out wide. His slide rule cross was easily side-footed home by Scott Rendell.

United sought to counter, striker Sam Smith shot over from the edge of the box and Sam Beasant came through a crowd of players on his six-yard line to punch away a dangerous free-kick. Bulls’ captain Josh O’Keefe was perhaps harshly booked for tripping Kevin Betsy, threatening a breakaway from halfway inside Woking’s own half. If there was a turning point for the Bulls it came now as Michael Rankine wriggled between Cards’ tight defence and midfield screen on the left-hand of the penalty area to deliver a curling right-foot cross for O'Keefe to rise, beat Beasant‘s outstretched hand and hit the crossbar, before the ball was scrambled away. He was judged offside, however: a decision which looked marginal.

Woking pressed again, Payne shooting a foot wide of Lloyd-Weston’s right-hand post. His strong play set up Banya, whose buzzing presence got him in close on goal but he was just blocked out for a corner. Another break was worked on the right between Betsy and Murtagh to free Jack Marriott inside the area on the right. His first shot was low, hard and blocked, his second arrowed into the far top corner of the net to extend the Cards' lead just after the half-hour.

Banya was away again and fed Payne for a shot. From a free-kick Payne and Betsy had efforts blocked, yet again the keeper could not hold the last effort and Rendell was on hand to slot home under Lloyd-Weston for number three. Woking didn’t rest on their laurels, Banya shooting into the top of the stanchion after Murtagh had exchanged passes on the right. Hereford sought a way back with a good Frankie Artus counter as Woking pushed up high on the right. Marriott escaped again from Cestor’s skilful defensive control and searching pass but was given offside. A Rankine header from his overlapping full back’s right-hand break and cross should have counted but his header went wide of Beasant’s post. There was also time for a free-kick after Mark Ricketts was brought down linking defence and attack and John Nutter’s left-footed drive deflected high off the defensive wall to send Lloyd-Weston scrambling back to tip round his post.

Half-time: Hereford United 0 Woking 3

Bulls’ boss Martin Foyle made changes at half-time, Damon Lathrope for Joel Edwards in the home midfield and Eric Odhiambo for Sam Smith up front. In truth the Cards' touch, movement and passing had all been too good. Despite that, Hereford were energised and pressed. Mark Ricketts hooked away from his own penalty spot and Artus shot just wide from the edge of the area. Beasant came charging out to the edge of his box to converge with O’Keefe, the referee awarding a Woking free-kick, to the ire of the home fans.

Burnley loanee Micah Evans on the Bulls’ right threatened repeatedly, helping win several free-kicks as Woking’s big lead came under pressure. The Cards stood firm in front of Sam Beasant. A sweeping break by Murtagh for Betsy almost unlocked Hereford on the counter, but he could not find Marriott. A Nutter free-kick looked to have managed it but the loan starlet was stopped in his tracks. Lathrope’s long diagonal ball over the Cards' right flank was fed into O’Keefe to ‘score’ but the offside flag was already aloft.

Garry Hill used the three-nil cushion to give a rest to recent international Josh Payne by substituting him for Jack Parkinson in a midfield role (and later Adam Newton wide right, as Banya came off and Gez Sole was introduced for hard-working two-goal Scott Rendell). Parkinson was soon in action hooking clear in his own area. Meanwhile, Mark Ricketts, down for treatment and coming back on from the touchline, to the relief of Cards fans, hooked away again right in front of goal. A Rendell/Marriott move was just stopped on the counter. Then John Nutter’s free-kick fed Marriott, who could not capitalise this time. At the other end Rankine flicked a header from a cross wide.

Marriott got away in a long run on the right and forced a corner. Artus’ cross-shot missed the target for the Bulls. Marriott twice broke again as Hereford tired, first over-running the ball out for a goal kick, next forcing the 'keeper to rush out to the corner of his area and head clear. Jack was in the thick of it again in the box on the left this time, three defenders converging on him, to slip in Sole. His daisy cutter close in, was just diverted for a corner by the 'keeper’s hand. McNerney finished a solid Woking defensive performance by intercepting a dangerous left-wing cross.

This really was an assured performance from Woking. In particular, the four loan players brought in by Garry and Steve in midfield and attack over the past few months have made a big difference. Hopefully, we will be able to hang on to them for as long as possible.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, John Nutter, Kevin Betsy, Keiran Murtagh, Josh Payne (Jack Parkinson 65), Charles Banya (Adam Newton 72), Jack Marriott, Scott Rendell (Gez Sole 78)

Unused subs: Aaron Howe, John Goddard

Hereford United: Daniel Lloyd-Weston, Dom Collins, Danny Leadbitter, Rod McDonald, Joel Edwards (Damon Lathrope 46), Micah Evans, Josh O’Keefe, Frankie Artus, Dan Walker, Sam Smith (Eric Odhiambo 46), Michael Rankine.


subs : Rhys Evans, Chris Bush, Luke Graham

Caution: O’Keefe

Goals: Scott Rendell 10, 36 Jack Marriott 33

Attendance: 1,041

MotM: Scott Rendell - worked tirelessly to score goals that looked easy, only because he was in the right place.

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