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Cards stay bullish with six from six

Ray Avards
9:33am, Sun 6th Apr 2014
Hereford United 0 Woking 2
The Skrill Premier

5th April 2014

With a nap hand of wins, the Cards kept the same side as that which beat Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night, apart from the unfortunate Joey Jones ceding a midfield berth to returning England C international Josh Payne.

Last time out at Edgar Street, Woking put in a superb first half-hour or so to lead 3-0 in the FA Trophy. Here they were fortunate not to find themselves an early goal down. A quick free-kick had them in trouble through the centre. Dan Walker followed up by finding space wide and his deep cross was met by Sam Smith’s header looping over Sam Beasant only for Mark Ricketts to save his side by heading off the line. Walker was making inroads on the Woking right and twice had chances, shooting wide and then being thwarted by McNerney’s superb block.

The Cards soon settled though. Jack Marriott breaking away on the right and into the area saw his stinging drive hit the side netting. Kevin Betsy (pictured) then tried his luck from 40 yards but home 'keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston was ready. Next it was John Nutter galloping away on the overlap and his low cross was side-footed narrowly wide by Scot Rendell at the near post before Josh Payne‘s dipping drive was tipped over by Lloyd-Weston arching backwards.

Woking were now very much on the front foot. Scott Rendell capitalised on a mix-up to get in behind central defence only for Lloyd-Weston to smother his effort. Josh Payne tried from distance and was just wide of the right-hand post. At the other end, Adam Newton gave the ball away but he and Mark Ricketts recovered the situation and cleared. Back on the attack Betsy, getting ‘the bird’ from the home fans for appealing to the referee for what he considered to be an earlier trip, dribbled in and won a corner against two defenders. The Bulls were clearly unsettled and minutes later another mix-up at the back, this time including 'keeper Lloyd-Weston, left Scott Rendell to waltz clear of him and roll the ball into an empty net for the lead.

Rendell got in behind the defence yet again without result and Betsy twisting and turning into the area had a shot saved, whilst at the other end Walker‘s cross found Sam Smith but his header was taken comfortably by Sam Beasant, as the Bulls reacted. The Cards were still looking to add to their tally and after a Payne drive was saved, Mark Ricketts followed up a cleared corner, won his tackle on the touchline and fired across the goal area, Rendell not quite able to turn it home on the slide. Woking raided yet again and two shots were blocked before the pressure finally paid off as a low left wing cross found its way to Adam Newton who, suffering nose-bleed from an incursion so far into opposition territory, gleefully side-footed home for his first-ever goal for the Cards to give the visitors a deserved two goal lead.

Even with this cushion, Woking were not content to sit back as half-time approached. Rendell’s angled ball released Jack Marriott away into the area on the right but he was tackled. Two defenders blocked him out and Betsy‘s follow up was stifled too. Josh Payne’s free kick from wide left was also hit with intent but wide of the far post. Betsy, picking up the ball in the centre this time, so nearly released Marriott for a clear run on goal, but the pass was picked off as the Cards finished strongly in a half they had largely dominated.

Half-time: Hereford United 0 Woking 2

Half–time changes saw the Bulls throw on Michael Rankine, returning from a recent lay off, at the point of the attack and Danny Pilkington, replacements for Dan Walker and Jon Brown. This allowed Jarrod Bowen to switch to the right wing. Early on, he squirmed free of Nutter and Payne to get in a dangerous cross. From the left wing, Rankine was set up for a sharp turn and shot near the penalty spot but it lacked power. In this rare spell of home pressure, Josh Payne received the only caution of the match after tangling with an opponent outside the penalty area. Home skipper Luke Graham, in stopping Marriott, went down with a thigh injury but carried on after treatment twice, to finish the match.

The young Ipswich loanee, freed on the counter attack again, shot wide though it looked like a deflection. In reply, Danny Leadbitter, one of the better United players on the day, careered forward from right-back into the heart of the Woking defence and was only stopped by a last ditch Ricketts tackle, who was again giving a captain's performance. At the other end Keiran Murtagh somehow smuggled the ball through for yet another Marriott run on goal and fizzing shot wide.

Woking dominance on the ball and in possession took the sting out of The Bulls second half push. Neat triangles worked the ball out of trouble or clear of challenges in midfield, wearing down the home side’s resolve, even though they were roared on by an enthusiastic home crowd. Payne shot wide of the far post and Betsy’s effort drifted wide of the other stick. He was soon away again and Rendell just failed to turn in a cross at the near post under pressure from the resilient Graham. Back came the Bulls. Rankine’s looping header was saved and Beasant was bundled into the net with the ball but referee Hopkins, who had an excellent game throughout, rightly blew up for a foul.

Joey Jones joined the action for Josh Payne midway through the half but it did not reduce the Cards' effectiveness in any way. The Johns, Goddard and Nutter combined to set the latter free for a drive which was blocked for a corner.

Michael Rankine came closest to breaking the home duck with a crashing header from Bowen’s pinpoint cross which had Beasant arching to tip over his bar before Frankie Artus shot narrowly over as Hereford looked to find a way back into the match.

With time ticking by, Garry Hill brought on Mike Cestor for John Nutter and Giuseppe Sole replaced Kevin Betsy to keep the team fresh and it was the visitors, rather than the home side who looked the more threatening. Indeed, the last action of the game saw a fine effort from Sole excellently tipped over the bar by Lloyd-Weston. It said it all that the Hereford 'keeper was voted the home team's 'man of the match'.

A richly deserved victory for the Cards then who are on an extraordinary run of six league wins in a row. They will surely be fully tested in the coming week, however, as they are forced to face successive games against third and second in the table, Grimsby away on Tuesday and Cambridge United at home on Thursday before another home match against Alfreton next Saturday. The squad is about to be tested to the limit!

Hereford United: Daniel Lloyd-Weston, Danny Leadbitter, Kingsley James, Luke Graham (c) Rob Purdie, Dan Walker (Michael Rankine 46), Dom Collins, Frankie Artus, Jarrod Bowen, Jon Brown (Danny Pilkington 46), Sam Smith (Cory Williams 75)

Unused Subs: Rod McDonald, Jamie Edge

Woking: Sam Beasant, Adam Newton, Mark Ricketts (c), Joe McNerney, John Nutter (Mike Cestor 75), Kevin Betsy (Giuseppe Sole 83), Keiran Murtagh, Josh Payne (Joey Jones 67), John Goddard, Scott Rendell, Jack Marriott

Unused Subs: Andy Little, Brett Johnson

Goals: Scott Rendell 20, Adam Newton 35

Caution: Josh Payne 49

My MOTM: Kevin Betsy for me, with an ageless performance, popping up all over the pitch to set the Cards in motion and always providing an outlet.

Attendance: 2,140

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