Cards well beaten by determined Wings

Brian Caffarey
9:28pm, Sat 18th Jan 2014
Welling United 3 Woking 0
The Skrill Premier
18 January 2014

Cards fans won’t look back on this match with much pleasure. A resolute and determined Welling side, smarting from their midweek home defeat at the hands of lowly Hyde, outfought Woking and should have been ahead before Keiran Murtagh’s second booking just before half-time gave Garry Hill’s side a hugely difficult post-interval task. Predictably, Welling piled on the pressure and the eventual three-goal margin did not flatter Jamie Day’s side.

The pitch, though quite heavily sanded and soft, was surprisingly playable after the recent heavy rain. Woking lined up as against Braintree, with Gez Sole having the unenviable remit of leading the line, with little support as it turned out, against the far taller Blaine Hudson and his fellow defenders. It didn’t help that a good many of the balls aimed at him were in the air, where of course he stood virtually no chance of success. In spite of that he worked tirelessly and could not be faulted for his application.

In a scrappy opening to the game both sides found it hard to keep possession or pick a pass as players were quickly harried into submission. But even in the early stages of the tough physical battle there were signs that it was the home side who were much more likely to create chances. A fine tackle by Mark Ricketts, in the fifth minute, on the edge of the area prevented Lafayette pulling the trigger, whilst three minutes later Beautyman blasted over as he stretched to reach a fine cross from the impressive Guthrie.

Woking’s attacking intentions weren’t helped by the fact that John Goddard found himself shackled by Fazakerley, with Kevin Betsy on the other flank rarely managing to get into the game. Josh Payne and Keiran Murtagh occasionally managed to push forward and threaten but were increasingly occupied in defensive duties as the half progressed and Welling gradually assumed greater and greater control of the game.

A reasonable chance fell to Clarke in the 11th minute but he could only manage a weak shot straight at Sam Beasant. Woking’s first dangerous attack was in the 21st minute when Sole latched superbly onto a long clearance from Beasant, turned his marker and just failed to reach Betsy with an intercepted pass.

Welling had another decent chance shortly afterwards after Guthrie had managed to surge through several tackles and find Clarke but his deliberate side-footed effort was again easy meat for Beasant.

As the midway point of the half was reached both sides were still finding it hard to pick out telling passes but the main difference was that Welling looked to have some firepower up front when they did get forward whereas Woking rarely threatened.

On the half hour mark Murtagh picked up a wholly unnecessary yellow card as he obstructed a free-kick, an indiscretion for which he and his team were to pay dearly fifteen minutes later.

Healy did well to bring the ball down on the edge of the area but, again, the shot was weak and caused no problems for Beasant. Woking’s increasing frustration was apparent as Goddard was booked, after planting his foot high into Hudson, but the Cards did threaten again around the 35-minute mark. A lobbed ball forward saw the home keeper Butcher run out of his area to head away, with the ball falling to Murtagh but the ball was taken off his foot before he had time to react.

It looked as though Welling had finally achieved a breakthrough when, after a break down Woking’s right, the ball was played inside to Beautyman but his fierce shot cannoned off the underside of the bar and away to safety. A Hudson header drifted wide on the 40-minute mark before Guthrie unleashed a superb left-footed effort from distance which looked destined for the top corner but it drew an exceptional one-handed save from Beasant, tipping the ball over the bar.

Just as it seemed that Woking would reach half-time unscathed Murtagh slid recklessly and unnecessarily into a tackle well away from any danger zone. A yellow card was inevitable, followed by the brandishing of the red.

There was just time for a deflected shot from Guthrie, followed by two corners, before the ten men in yellow trudged off to their dressing room.

Half-time: Welling United 0 Woking 0

Predictably, Woking were soon on the back foot after the break and it seemed only a matter of time before Welling would make their advantage pay. Beasant was soon in action, tipping the ball over the bar. Lafayette volleyed well wide but Beautyman’s swerving effort was on target, Beasant parrying before Joe McNerney cleared.

The breakthrough finally came in the 62nd minute. Cargill broke down the Woking right. Adam Newton was not able to prevent the hard, low cross and Healy had the easy task of steering the ball home from close range to make it 1-0.

A few minutes later Garry Hill made two changes, bringing on Reece Beckles to make his league debut, giving Sole some welcome support up front, and Brett Johnson. Goddard and John Nutter were the players to make way.

There was a scare for the home side when Lee Butcher almost lost control of a Hudson back header but they seemed rather fortunate when the referee awarded a penalty against Mike Cestor after he had tousled with Lafayette on the left of the Woking area. Beasant made a fine save from Lafayette’s spot kick but Healy was on hand to thrash the ball back into the net to make it 2-0.

The only bright spot for Cards fans in the remainder of the game was a spirited cameo from Beckles, whose pace and determination at least gave the Welling defenders something to think about as they sought to calmly see out the match. One break on the left almost saw Sole played in.

Woking’s awful day reached its apogee when Johnson fluffed a clearance in the box, with Clarke quickly poking the ball beyond Beasant to make it 3-0.

On the day the Cards failed to match the home side’s resolve and determination, being outfought and outmuscled, although there were some decent performances from Sam Beasant, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor and Josh Payne in particular. Keiran Murtagh’s sending-off may be regarded as the turning point but Woking were already second best by that stage and lucky still to be level. Gez Sole worked hard but the side desperately needed someone up front who could compete physically and hold the ball up.

Woking: Sam Beasant, Adam Newton, Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, John Nutter (Reece Beccles 70) , Mark Ricketts, Josh Payne, Kevin Betsy, Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard(Brett Johnson 70), Giuseppe Sole (Niall Wright 87)

Unused subs: Andy Little, Anthony McNamee

Booked: Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard, Reece Beckles

Sent off: Keiran Murtagh (two yellow cards)

Welling: Lee Butcher, Loui Fazakerley, Doug Bergqvist, Lee Clarke, Kurtis Guthrie (Luis Cumbers 76), Ross Lafayette (Kiernan Hughes-Mason 84), Blaine Hudson, Harry Beautyman, Baily Cargill, Josh Wakefield, Joe Healy

Unused subs: Jamie Turner, Jack Obersteller, Connor McLaren

Goals: Joe Healy 62 and 75, Lee Clarke 83

Booked: Doug Bergqvist, Loui Fazakerley, Blaine Hudson, Josh Wakefield

My Woking MOTM: Mike Cestor (pictured)

Attendance: 809

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