Another superb away win

Brian Caffarey
11:32am, Wed 4th Mar 2015
Dartford 1 Woking 3
Vanarama Conference
3 March 2015

Another superb away performance saw the Cards move up to 7th in the table, setting the scene perfectly for a hugely important home game against Grimsby Town on Saturday. Once again, Garry Hill’s side dominated much of the game, taking an early lead through the lively Yemi Odubade and overcoming the loss through injury of Joe McNerney, before being disappointingly pegged back just before half-time. But the Cards went all out for three points after the break, with ‘man of the match’ John Goddard scoring twice to seal a thoroughly deserved win.

On a cold, clear night, and on a very poor pitch, the Cards lined up as at Lincoln City and immediately set about taking the game to a Dartford side struggling to avoid the drop but which had produced several encouraging results of late. It soon became clear that the Darts’ defence would have difficulty coping with the pace of Odubade, linking up promisingly with Scott Rendell and well served by a sparkling midfield, especially John Goddard, who had an outstanding game, constantly harrying when not in possession and showing quick feet with the ball, always driving forward and making things happen. But, first of all, Jake Cole had to show sharp reactions to foil Andy Pugh as he leaped to his right to claw away an early effort.

The Cards’ attacking intentions were quickly rewarded by a goal in the 5th minute, Odubade’s third in five games since his arrival. Joey Jones combined well with Goddard, with the latter’s strike across the face of the goal carrying through to the on-loan striker, who deftly nudged it home with the outside of his right boot. Almost immediately, the Cards broke forward again, with a slaloming run from Kevin Betsy, which was only halted as he was brought down, with no foul given.

More worryingly, Joe McNerney was soon lying injured in the corner and had to be helped along the touchline as he hobbled off, to be replaced by Adam Newton. Potentially, this was a huge blow for the Cards, but James Clarke and Mark Ricketts went on to shore up the centre of the defence in very impressive fashion.

The Cards continued to dominate proceedings, with Joey Jones rifling in two efforts, the latter following a fine move, with the ubiquitous Goddard and Odubade setting up the opportunity.

Dartford, playing a very direct game, briefly threatened midway through the half. Doidge dispossessed Josh Payne on the edge of the area, shooting narrowly wide, and then Jake Cole, with almost his last serious action of the match, had to react very smartly, with the aid of the woodwork, to prevent Mark Ricketts from heading a dangerous cross into his own net.

Normal service resumed as Odubade did brilliantly to chase a through ball from Payne and play it into Newton’s path, but the latter’s shot was wide. After James Clarke, tenacious throughout, had snuffed out a rare Dartford attack, the Cards threatened again as Odubade and Betsy ran at the home defence, with the latter’s cross just being smuggled out for a corner. A clever Goddard ‘dink’ at the end of some sustained attacking was further evidence of the side’s ability to play enterprising football on an unpromising surface.

The odds seemed to be on the Cards extending their lead as the game moved towards half-time. Rendell side-footed an effort but straight to the keeper; Payne shot over the bar; Betsy volleyed weakly; and Goddard couldn’t quite finish after dribbling his way into the box. But it was the Darts who suddenly produced a goal with two minutes to go till the break. Nathan Green, on the left of the area, got past Newton and flashed a fine shot into the far corner.

There was just time for Betsy to produce a great run down the right, skipping over tackles, but he couldn’t latch onto the clever flick-on from Rendell. As the teams traipsed off, the feeling was that the scoreline did not reflect Woking’s dominance and the worry was that the equaliser would give the Darts the confidence to take the game to the Cards after the break.

Half-time: Dartford 1 Woking 1

But it was Woking who set the tone as the second half began, with Jones having a shot blocked and a Goddard cross just too deep to find his front men. The pressure continued with a couple of corners, from one of which Ricketts headed just over the bar, and then, on 52 minutes, Goddard picked the ball up on the edge of the area and made space for himself. His shot wasn’t particularly forceful but it was well directed into the far corner and restored the Cards’ lead.

The Cards pressed for a third, decisive, goal and didn’t have long to wait. After several other promising attacks, Goddard, on the right of the area, bamboozled a defender and chipped a clever ball towards the far post. It was probably meant to be a cross but it crept under the bar to give Garry Hill’s side a 3-1 lead with 60 minutes played.

It would be an exaggeration to say that it was ‘game over’ because the Darts did create a few chances in the remaining half-hour or so but, in truth, they never really looked like getting back into the match, though admirably spurred on till the end by their fans. Jake Cole had one more serious bit of work to do in saving at the near post from Elliot Bradbrook and, with a few minutes to go, Doidge should have done better when out-jumping the Woking defence, only to put an inviting cross over the bar. The Cards, for their part, played the game out sensibly, attacking when the opportunity arose but also giving the Darts little chance to get a foothold in the game, with substitute Gez Sole working particularly hard to deny space and time. Goddard had two more efforts on goal, both dealt with by the Darts’ keeper.

When the final whistle went Garry Hill and Steve Thompson could rejoice in a fine team performance, with outstanding displays from John Goddard, James Clarke and Yemi Odubade in particular, but with everyone playing their full part at different times. If the team can sustain this level of performance in the coming weeks, anything is possible.

Woking: Jake Cole, James Clarke, Mark Ricketts, Joe McNerney (Adam Newton, 11), Chris Arthur, Kevin Betsy, Joey Jones, Josh Payne (Keiran Murtagh, 77), John Goddard, Scott Rendell, Yemi Odubade (Giuseppe Sole, 75)

Unused subs: Charles Banya, Andy Little

Goals: Yemi Odubade 5; John Goddard 52 and 60

Booked: None

Dartford: Jason Brown, Lee Burns, Rory McAuley, Tom Dallison, Jamie Richards, Ryan Hayes (Harry Crawford, 70), Elliot Bradbrook, Lee Noble, Nathan Green (Peter Sweeney, 70), Christian Doidge, Andy Pugh (Danny Harris, 70)

Unused subs: Max Cornhill, Deren Ibrahim

Goals: Nathan Green 43

Booked: Lee Burns, Lee Noble

My MOTM: John Goddard

Attendance: 884

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