Cards draw a blank but remain undefeated

Phil Batts
9:04pm, Sat 16th Aug 2014

Woking 0 Macclesfield Town 0
Vanarama Conference
16th August 2014

Woking and Macclesfield played out an entertaining goalless draw as both teams sought to extend good openings to the season, the Cards having taken four points from their first two games whilst the Silkmen boasted a 100% record. The home team will probably feel the slightly more aggrieved at not securing all three points as they created the better chances over the ninety minutes, although the visitors also had their moments throughout the match, so probably both managers will be relatively satisfied with a point apiece.

Woking made three changes to the team which grabbed a last-minute equaliser against Dartford on Tuesday night. James Clarke and John Nutter replaced Adam Newton and Mike Cestor in the full back positions and Joey Jones, unlucky to find himself on the bench on Tuesday following a good display at Alfreton, came into midfield in place of Keiran Murtagh.

The Cards once again lined up in a 4-4-2 formation and kicked off towards the Kingfield Road End on a bright and breezy afternoon. The visiting 'keeper Rhys Taylor was soon in action as he had to rush from his line to clear from Scott Rendell as the home forward chased a long through ball. Shortly afterwards, a poor back pass from John Goddard at the other end sent Waide Fairhurst scampering through on goal only to be superbly thwarted by a fine smother from Aaron Howe. Goddard then almost made amends with a snapshot from twenty-five yards which Taylor did well to tip onto his bar and over for a corner.

It was an all-action start, particularly from the home side. Next, it was John Nutter, returning to the team following a back injury, who stormed into the opposition box to collect a long ball from Joey Jones. It was only a desperate last-ditch tackle from a defender which prevented the left back from opening the scoring.

It was not all Woking, however, as a neat and compact Macclesfield, showing why they have started the season so well, looked dangerous from a couple of set plays.

The Cards then went back on the offensive. A delightful left-footed volley from Nutter on the edge of the area was deflected into the path of Rendell who brought out another good save from Taylor, who diverted the ball for a corner. Not to be outdone, Arthur Gnahoua fired in a tremendous effort for the visitors following a swift counter-attack which Howe saved expertly low to his left.

Both teams were looking quick and incisive in midfield and it seemed only a matter of time before the deadlock would be broken. However, despite plenty more attacking play during the remainder of the half, the match remained goalless at the break.

Half-time: Woking 0 Macclesfield Town 0

Woking went straight back on to the offensive at the start of the second half, forcing three corners in quick succession. From the third of those, Josh Payne rippled the side-netting from fifteen yards out as many in the crowd rose to acclaim what they thought was the opening goal. It was Payne again, having a typically swashbuckling afternoon and never far from the action, who played in a floated delivery which Rendell did well to get on the end of, only to see his well-directed header saved by Taylor at his near post.

Although the Cards were enjoying the territorial advantage in the opening exchanges of the half, the game remained very open with the Silkmen still a threat and a neutral would have been hard pressed to pick a winner at this stage. Indeed, the visitors then proceeded to have their best period of the game. Firstly, Adriano Moke seized onto a defensive error and shot wide of the far post when he should have done better, before the dangerous Fairhurst put in a couple of good efforts to remind the home fans that the match was still very much in the balance.

The final half-hour saw Garry Hill ringing the changes, replacing Goddard, Theo Lewis and Dean Morgan with Keiran Murtagh, Reece Beckles and Giuseppe Sole. Macclesfield, somewhat surprisingly, having named only four substitutes, elected to play throughout with the same eleven with which they started the match.

The last fifteen minutes saw plenty of gaps appearing for both teams to try to exploit. Woking, even though they were playing much narrower following the departure of Lewis and Morgan, continued to look the more likely team to find the breakthrough as they pressed forward. Both Joey Jones and Josh Payne pulled back dangerous looking balls from the byline but the finishing touch just went missing on both occasions as the visitors held firm to secure a share of the spoils.

Garry Hill was clearly a little frustrated after the game at not taking all three points in what he described as a "tight affair". It had been a very solid start to the campaign, in his view, nevertheless, with much more quality now evident in the squad compared with last season, although the pre-season loss of Kevin Betsy had clearly been a bitter blow.

Next up, a trip around the M25 this coming Saturday to Welling. Not, it has to be said, one of the Cards' happiest hunting grounds of late. Why not make the short journey to support the team and see if they can extend their unbeaten run to the season?

Woking: Aaron Howe, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, James Clarke, John Nutter, Joey Jones, Josh Payne, Theo Lewis (Reece Beckles 61), John Goddard (Keiran Murtagh 73), Scott Rendell, Dean Morgan (Giuseppe Sole 73)

Unused subs: Jake Cole, Adam Newton

Cautions: None

Macclesfield Town: Rhys Taylor, Andy Halls, Scott Barrow, Luke Waterfall, George Pilkington, Paul Turnbull, Paul Lewis, Waide Fairhurst, Adriano Moke, Arthur Gnahoua, Daniel Whitaker

Unused subs: Malachi Lavelle-Moore, Daniel Cowan, Liam Gibson, Ritchie Branagan

Cautions: None

Attendance: 1,340

Sponsor's MOTM: James Clarke

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