Woking News & Mail

Frustrating afternoon for Cards

Brian Caffarey
9:04pm, Sat 23rd Aug 2014
Welling United 1 Woking 1
23 August 2014

This was another frustrating afternoon for Garry Hill’s side. It was the now familiar story of early dominance – virtually total for the first half hour – undermined by a failure to put the ball in the net or even barely test the home keeper. The game should have been out of sight by the time Welling mustered their first shot on goal with over 30 minutes gone but, instead, they took the lead a minute or two later and Woking only grabbed an equaliser in the 81st minute through the unlikely source of substitute Adam Newton. So, the Cards remain unbeaten after four games, with one win and three draws, but against both Dartford and Welling it ought to have been a three point haul, not one.

With Mike Cestor still injured and John Nutter unavailable, and with Adam Newton remaining on the substitutes’ bench, Woking started with a back four, in front of Aaron Howe, of James Clarke on the right, Mark Ricketts and Joe McNerney in the centre and new loan signing Chris Arthur on the left. The midfield comprised Theo Lewis on the right, Josh Payne and Joey Jones in the centre, and John Goddard on the left but with an apparently looser role. Scott Rendell and Dean Morgan continued up front.

The Cards were quickly into their stride, pushing Welling back on the defensive, where they remained for the next 30 minutes, with the only respite coming through balls punted hopefully up field, which almost invariably ran through to Howe. Goddard worked his way into the box on three occasions in the opening minutes but with no real threat resulting. A succession of corners and free-kicks followed but were all cleared. The best attack at this stage was a superb move in the 14th minute, with Goddard flashing a cross to the far post, where a Welling defender came close to putting the ball in his own net under pressure from Morgan.

But a much better chance fell to Lewis in the 22nd minute. Put clear by an exquisite pass by Payne inside the full-back, he shot only to see the Wings’ keeper, Butcher, deflect the ball onto the post and away. Jones nearly compensated a minute later with a header which was cleared off the line.

The relentless Woking pressure continued with yet more corners and free-kicks but the home side defended stoutly, keeping shooting opportunities to a minimum and clearing crosses.

In the 32nd minute the Wings finally managed a shot – to some ironic cheers from the away fans. But Beautyman’s turn was clever and, although his shot was wide, it carried a threat. Almost immediately, that threat was realised as the home side took the lead completely against the run of play. A ball was played in behind the left side of the Woking defence. Howe rushed out but Beautyman pushed the ball past him and was able to fire home in spite of Clarke’s attempt to cover.

Predictably, the goal lifted the home side and deflated the Cards. Beautyman had a shot over the bar but was penalised for a ‘foot up’. It wasn’t until the final few minutes of the half that Woking regained some of their previous attacking momentum, with a decent chance falling to Jones. A snap shot was probably the order of the day as Rendell headed down to him in the box but he wanted a touch and the defence stepped in.

As Woking left the field at half-time one suspects that they could hardly believe that they were a goal down but, against that, it has to be said that, for all their dominance in terms of territory and possession, they had given Butcher very little to do.

Half-time: Welling United 1 Woking 0

As soon as the second half got under way, it became clear that Woking would not dominate proceedings in the same fashion. An untidy start saw McNerney quickly booked and he might possibly have been booked again a few minutes later when he appeared to go into a tackle with his foot up.

An early chance fell to Welling’s Tyrone Marsh but he dallied on a through ball on the edge of the Woking box and was dispossessed. Play became increasingly ‘bitty’ and, at times, tetchy, with a number of free-kicks conceded by both sides. There was little of the fluency that Woking had shown in the first half and their attacks increasingly took the form of balls aimed for Rendell or crosses into the box which were generally well dealt with by the Welling defence, who also blocked several efforts on goal around the penalty area. Welling had a period of pressure around the 60-minute mark, with McNerney foiling a dangerous free-kick and then Barney Williams letting fly with a tremendous effort from at least 35 yards which whistled past the woodwork.

It was no surprise to see Garry Hill ringing the changes, bringing on Keiran Murtagh and Gez Sole for Joey Jones and John Goddard, as Woking pushed three up front and Chris Arthur also roamed forward more often. But, in the end, it was the arrival of Adam Newton in the 70th minute, replacing Theo Lewis, that seemed to give the Cards a lift, as he found good positions out on the right.

But Welling ought to have made the game safe before Newton had a chance to influence the game. Corne was played through but in a one-on-one with Howe could only hit the ball tamely toward the Woking keeper.

Woking responded by pushing forward more urgently in search of an equaliser but without looking as though it would materialise. Eventually, however, the pressure told as McNerney nodded a ball on in the box. As it bounced towards the far post, with Butcher stuck on his line, Sole tried vainly to connect but there was Newton, arriving, to nod home.

In the last ten minutes of the game, with four minutes added on, the Cards were the only side one could see winning but, in spite of a number of crosses into the box, no decisive chances were created, with players just unable to get that final touch or frustrated by determined home defending.

There is no doubt that Woking looked the more accomplished side but, as the saying goes, it’s goals that win games and, at the moment, the Cards do not seem to be able to turn territorial domination into goals. Too few shots were tried and, at times, the side seemed guilty of over-elaboration. But one still feels that, if they could get an early goal, a resounding victory could follow. Let’s hope that this happens in the match against Dover Athletic on Monday afternoon!

Woking: Aaron Howe, James Clarke, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney, Chris Arthur, Theo Lewis (Adam Newton 70), Josh Payne, Joey Jones (Keiran Murtagh 62), John Goddard (Giuseppe Sole 62), Scott Rendell, Dean Morgan

Unused subs: Jake Cole, Nick Arnold

Booked: Joe McNerney

Welling United: Lee Butcher, Loui Fazakerley, Jamal Fyfield (Barney Williams 46), Jake Gallagher, Zack Fagan, Chris Bush, Harry Beautyman, Kieron St Aimie, Tyrone Marsh (Malachi Hudson 77), Afolabi Obafemi (Jon Nouble 72), Sam Corne

Unused subs: Jamie Turner, Charlie Gorman

Booked: Afolabi Obafemi, Sam Corne

Attendance: 634

My MOTM: Mark Ricketts

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