Boz's Fruit & Veg

Cards slip to second defeat

Brian Caffarey
11:23pm, Sat 20th Sep 2014
Bristol Rovers 2 Woking 0
20 September 2014

The Cards suffered their second successive defeat on the road this afternoon at the hands of a resurgent Bristol Rovers side at a lively Memorial Stadium. Garry Hill’s side got off to the worst possible start, conceding in the third minute as Adam Cunnington volleyed home. They more than held their own in the remainder of the first half, causing some anxiety to Rovers fans, who wanted to see their side build on their early lead. But the Cards found it hard to keep their passing game going in the second half and Rovers wrapped the game up in the 86th minute with a fine Lee Mansell strike from a free-kick. Woking now find themselves in 4th place in the table, with two home games coming up against Kidderminster Harriers and Nuneaton Town.

Adam Newton started at right back in place of the injured James Clarke, while John Goddard got the nod in midfield ahead of Keiran Murtagh.

The Gas went straight onto the attack. A half-cleared corner led to a cross to the far post where an unmarked Adam Cunnington sweetly volleyed home, giving Ross Worner no chance.

It took a few minutes for the Cards to re-group but, when they did so, they began to pass the ball well, making good progress through the midfield areas. Josh Payne shot wide in the fourth minute after a pull-back and Joey Jones nearly wriggled down the bye-line before the ball ran out of play. Chris Arthur, looking more comfortable going forward than defending, went on several surging runs down the left flank, winning a couple of corners, from one of which Scott Rendell headed wide from an acute angle. But Rovers were creating chances too. Cunnington skewed the ball wide when the ball ran loose in the box.

On another day the Cards might well have been awarded a penalty on the quarter-hour mark when Sinclair handled in the box but the referee presumably decided it was not deliberate.

Dean Morgan, posing a threat at this stage, tricked his way past defenders to send a dangerous cross-cum-shot curling just past the far post. Woking continued to have more of the attacking play as Payne fired fiercely into the chest of keeper Mildenhall, shooting again before the move petered out. Another chance fell to Morgan on the half-hour mark, after some fine approach play, but he shot well wide.

However, an even better chance fell to Cunnington two minutes later as he volleyed over the bar after the ball had bounced to him off Mike Cestor. Gasheads were rueing another missed opportunity a few minutes later when a clever reverse pass left Arthur stranded, with Matty Taylor blasting over.

The home side had the better of the closing minutes of the half as some defensive hesitation gifted them a free-kick and some loose passing set in.

Overall, the Cards had, if anything, looked the more fluent side in the half with the ball on the deck but their approach play wasn’t matched by clear chances created, whereas Rovers had not only scored but had spurned a couple of good opportunities to double their lead.

Half-time: Bristol Rovers 1 Woking 0

The Cards came out for the second half with a different formation, Jones moving back and Arthur and Newton operating more as wing-backs. But the side started slowly, looking a little ‘flat’, and had Cestor’s speed of recovery to thank for averting an early Rovers’ threat. It wasn’t until the 56th minute that the Cards created a menacing attack, with Payne once again firing in a shot which Mildenhall chested away. Another effort, from distance, was well wide, before Rendell forced the keeper into a fine save from a free-kick – only to look up and see that the linesman’s flag had been raised anyway for offside.

Payne, prominent in midfield, though sometimes lacking his usual accuracy of passing, did superbly in the 68th minute to retain possession out left before crossing for Rendell to find the side-netting, from a difficult angle, with a header.

Jones was booked for a ‘professional’ foul as he tugged back an opponent just outside the area and more yellow cards followed quickly for Murtagh (who had only just come on as a substitute for Goddard) and Arthur. Worner was then called into action, rushing out of his area to foil Taylor.

The Cards were now finding it difficult to make progress, with too many balls hit long and not sticking up front and too many free-kicks given away. Fortunately for the Cards, Rovers had wasted these set pieces but their luck ran out in the 86th minute after Payne’s rash challenge just outside the area. Lee Mansell’s fine strike beat Worner all ends up as the ball flew into the far top corner.

The five minutes of added time did not avail Woking and, indeed, Dave Taylor passed up a fine opportunity to add a third goal as he side-footed over after a swift counter-attack had opened up a tiring Cards defence.

This was a frustrating afternoon in some ways. Rovers are clearly a decent side and benefit from great support but one felt that Woking were somewhat below par, especially up front, and on another day would have gained something from this match. No one had quite the spark needed to grab an equalising goal at a time when the side was well in the game and enjoying plenty of possession.

The team will no doubt benefit from a week’s break after an exhausting series of games – time which, we hope, will also see some injured players come back into the reckoning.

Woking: Ross Worner, Adam Newton (Nick Arnold 64), Joe McNerney, Mike Cestor, Chris Arthur, Giuseppe Sole (Reece Beckles 82), John Goddard (Keiran Murtagh 74), Josh Payne, Joey Jones, Dean Morgan, Scott Rendell

Unused subs: Andy Little, Theo Lewis

Booked: Cestor, Jones, Murtagh, Arthur, Payne

Bristol Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Daniel Leadbitter, Lee Brown, Tom Lockyer, Tom Parkes, Lee Mansell, Matty Taylor (Jamie White 93), Jake Gosling (Ollie Clarke 46), Dave Martin, Stuart Sinclair, Adam Cunnington (Ellis Harrison 61)

Unused subs: Will Puddy, Mark McChrystal

Booked: Gosling

My MOTM: Joe McNerney (pictured)

Attendance: 6028 (276 Woking fans)

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