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Woking take the sting out of Barnet

Ben Mitchell - 23rd November 2014

Woking take the sting out of Barnet Woking 1 Barnet 1
Vanarama Conference
November 22nd 2014

Woking were looking to build on last week's televised victory over Halifax, by toppling league leaders Barnet at Kingfield.

Both sides started with a high tempo, but it was the visitors who struck first. Elliott Johnson, gliding past the defence, managed to play a superb cross into the path of Luisma Villa to tap in from 6 yards, although TV footage later showed that it was an own goal from an unlucky Mike Cestor.

Chris Arthur and Kevin Betsy carved out good chances for the home side but were unable to make a real impact in the first half. Down the other end of the park, Joe McNerney and James Clarke (pictured) were solid in defence, managing to keep the Bees' attacks at bay.

All of Woking's hard work paid off just before the hour mark, with a cutting Arthur cross finding its way through the Barnet defence for Mike Cestor to side-foot the ball into the net.

Although Garry Hill’s men will be happy with a point against the league leaders, it may be the opposition who feel that they were lucky to come away with anything.

Woking’s heroic performance was a fitting tribute to Joe Reay, who was remembered with a minute’s applause before the match, with both teams walking onto the pitch through a tunnel of academy players in black tracksuits.

With their brief dip in form now a distant memory, Woking burst out of the blocks to try and catch the visitors off guard. Unfortunately, travellers tend not to suffer too much jet lag making the short trip around the M25 from Barnet, as the opposition were also quick to launch an attack.

Within the first 90 seconds of the half, it was the Bees who swarmed the Woking defence, finding that extra gear early on.

A ferocious burst of pace exposed Woking on the wing, allowing a searching cross to be played into the six-yard box where Cestor, in attempting to clear, could only guide the ball into the roof of his own net from close range to give Barnet an early lead.

Woking were not fazed by the goal and continued to mount pressure on the Barnet defence.

Their best effort came from a well-worked training ground move which culminated in a Scott Rendell shot skidding narrowly away from goal.

Barnet themselves remained dangerous on the break with Lee Cook seeing his headed effort cleared off the line through the combined efforts of Jake Cole and McNerney.

The intensity of the match was clear to see, on and off the ball, with heavy challenges from Barnet's John Akinde and Woking’s Clarke both resulting in yellow cards.

It was Clarke who had the best chance of the half for the home side, rising highest to get on the end of a cross from Arthur, only to see his header pass a fraction wide of the upright.

Given the amount of possession that Woking had enjoyed throughout the half, they were probably unlucky to go in at the break a goal down. A touch more composure on the ball and in front of goal might just have brought about the equaliser which their overall play had merited.

Half-time: Woking 0 Barnet 1

The second half continued in a similar fashion to the first, with both sides posing a threat on the break.

Barnet saw two goal-mouth scrambles, in as many minutes, eventually cleared off the line by the Woking defence.

But it would be the Cards who would make the most of their early pressure to find an equaliser. The ball pin-balled its way around the Barnet penalty area, before Arthur managed to squeeze a pass through the visitors' back line. The flag stayed down as the ball slid its way to Rendell, who showed great strength to hold the ball up and lay it into the path of the oncoming Cestor. The defender, looking to make amends for the Bees' opener, redeemed himself by calmly placing his effort into the bottom corner.

Barnet tried to regain their lead instantly. A pinpoint pass to Cook put him through on goal and one-on-one with Cole. The Woking keeper dived bravely at the striker’s feet, getting enough of the ball for referee Mark Whitton's liking, despite protests from the travelling supporters that a penalty should be awarded. Cole's parry only went as far as Barnet's captain Charlie MacDonald who, with the ball at his feet, was faced with an open goal. Had it not been for Cards' goalscorer, Cestor, heroically hurling himself into the path of the shot from MacDonald, the Bees would have been back in front.

Woking saw their chance to take more than a point from the league leaders and tried to push on for all three, with efforts from Newton, Clarke and substitute Jack Marriott coming close to a second goal late in the game.

Both teams will probably feel that they could have taken all three points from the match but in the end a draw was probably a fair result.

Woking next face Grimsby Town at Blundell Park this coming Tuesday evening. The Mariners sit just one place and one point above the Cards, in second place. However, with two games in hand on their midweek opposition, Woking will be hoping that they can push on and keep this resurgent run of form going.

Woking: Jake Cole, Adam Newton, Mike Cestor, Joe McNerney, James Clarke, Josh Payne, Scott Rendell, Giuseppe Sole (Jack Marriott 73), Kevin Betsy, Theo Lewis (Joey Jones 55), Chris Arthur

Unused Substitutes: Aaron Howe , John Goddard, Dean Morgan

Goal: Mike Cestor 57

Cautions: James Clarke 45, Mike Cestor 90

Barnet: Graham Stack, Elliot Johnson, Bondz Ngala, Dave Stephens, Curtis Weston, John Akinde (Jon Nurse 90), Charlie MacDonald, Lee Cook, Luisma Villa (Bernard Mensah 65), Mauro Vilhete, David Hunt

Unused Substitutes: Jack Saville, Luke Gambin, Adam Mekki

Goal: Mike Cestor (og) 2

Cautions: John Akinde 50, Graham Stack 87

Attendance: 2,617

Sponsor's Man of the Match: James Clarke
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