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The Cards Run Out Of Steam

Glen Harrington - 11th April 2014

The Cards Run Out Of Steam Woking 0 Cambridge United 3

The Skrill Premier

10th April 2014

Goals from Delano Sam-Yorke, Luke Chadwick and Liam Hughes handed promotion chasing Cambridge United a comfortable victory over Woking at Kingfield.

For the Cards, it was simply a case of a game too far. Despite three changes from the team which drew 2-2 with Grimsby Town on Tuesday night, the signs of fatigue were clearly evident, as Garry Hill’s men lined-up for their third match in just five days.

The hosts actually started the game brightly, with Josh Payne, Joey Jones and Kevin Betsy all squandering half-chances, only for a mistake from goalkeeper Sam Beasant to allow ex-Card Sam-Yorke to slot the visitors ahead.

An error from Keiran Murtagh allowed Chadwick to double the U’s advantage, and within 25 minutes the game looked all but over. The Cards battled hard in the second half, and were unlucky not to pull a goal back through substitute Scott Rendell before Liam Hughes smashed in a spectacular third goal.

Woking’s three changes from that epic match at Blundell Park saw Mike Cestor replace John Nutter at left-back, Jones come in for John Goddard in midfield and Giuseppe Sole start up front in place of Rendell.

The Cards started the game well, playing the brand of neat, attractive, passing football which Woking fans have been treated to on a regular basis during the second-half of the season. Payne saw his shot from distance comfortably saved by goalkeeper Will Norris, while Jones also tested the U’s stopper from range. Next, Sole’s neat pass looked to have played Betsy in on goal, only for the ball to escape underneath the experienced winger’s foot.

Unfortunately for the home side, Cambridge’s goal came from some sloppy play. Initially, it was Cestor who dallied too long in possession after trying to play the ball out of defence. While the ball ended up back with Beasant, the Woking stopper’s poor roll out, which asked too much of Jones, handed possession back to United. With frightening speed, the ball was played inside to Sam-Yorke, who slotted his shot calmly into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Cambridge were much too clinical for the liking of an 1,800-strong Kingfield crowd, and when Murtagh was too casual and lost the ball on the half-way line, the U’s were more than ready to take advantage. Hughes played the defence-splitting pass, and Chadwick lifted the ball into the roof of the net past an on-rushing Beasant.

Things had gone from bad to worse for the Cards, and specifically for Murtagh who, ten minutes after giving away possession for the visitors' second goal, pulled up holding the back of his leg. While the change looked more precautionary than enforced, there will still be concerns over the Woking midfielder.

Half-time: Woking 0 Cambridge United 2

Woking continued to play some nice football in the second-half, without managing to create a tremendous amount against the Skrill Premier’s strongest defence – who have conceded just 27 goals in 41 league games this season.

Jack Marriott had the Cards best chance, but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet quick enough to get the sort of shot away that he would have liked. Norris juggled the Ipswich loanee’s effort, before falling on top of the ball.

Garry Hill brought on both Rendell and Brett Johnson for the last 20 minutes, with Marriott and Mark Ricketts making way. Richard Money also made changes, with Andy Pugh and Ashley Chambers replacing Sam-Yorke and Matthew Barnes-Homer.

Five minutes from time, Rendell came the closest to pulling a goal back for the hosts, narrowly failing to get on the end of Adam Newton’s cross, after the full-back had been played in down the right flank by Betsy.

A couple of minutes later and United had their third goal. Chadwick’s exquisite jinxing run set-up Chambers for the shot, and while Beasant was able to bat away the initial effort, he could do nothing about Hughes’ follow-up, with the midfielder smashing the ball into the top left hand corner of the goal.

It was a disappointing night for the Cards, who saw their seven match unbeaten league run come to an end in something of an anti-climax. But the result is an understandable one. Cambridge are flying high in the league and are probably favourites to be promoted alongside champions-elect Luton Town.

Three games in five days is a huge ask for a team with a small squad operating on a part-time basis, especially when playing against a side with the resources of United. Grimsby, Woking’s opponents on Tuesday evening, also played for a third time in five days on Thursday, and lost 1-0 at Dartford.

The Cards' faint play-off hopes are now all but over after one point from their last two games. They sit in twelfth place, six points adrift of the top five with four games remaining. However, they host sixth place Alfreton Town on Saturday with the possibility of surpassing last season’s point’s tally of 62. So come down to Kingfield if you possibly can and cheer on the team in their penultimate home match of the season!

Woking: Sam Beasant, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Joe McNerney, Mark Ricketts (Brett Johnson 69), Kevin Betsy, Keiran Murtagh (John Goddard 37), Josh Payne, Joey Jones, Giuseppe Sole, Jack Marriott (Scott Rendell 69)

Unused Subs: Andy Little, John Nutter

Goal(s): None

Booked: Betsy 90

Cambridge United: Will Norris, Richard Tait, Greg Taylor, Ian Miller, Josh Coulson, Liam Hughes, Tom Champion, Luke Chadwick (Nathan Arnold 86), Ryan Donaldson, Delano Sam-Yorke (Ashley Chambers 71), Matthew Barnes-Homer (Andy Pugh 65)

Unused Subs: Kevin Roberts, Luke Berry

Goals: Sam-Yorke 17, Chadwick 25, Hughes 85

Booked: None

Sponsor's MOTM: Josh Payne – Worked hard for very little reward in the middle of the park, a typically industrial performance.

Attendance: 1,805

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