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Brian Caffarey - 14th April 2007

3.00pm on Saturday 14 April 2007
Nationwide Conference

An extraordinary finale to this game saw the Cards rise from the dead to claw back a 0-3 deficit in the last ten minutes, capped by an astonishing 35 yard free-kick from Giuseppe Sole.

The mood at Kingfield as the kick-off approached seemed to match the gloriously sunny weather. With the end of the Cockerill era and with two hard-fought wins making safety all but mathematically certain, the Kingfield crowd could afford to bask in a warm glow of optimism. Of course, football being what it is, Forest Green Rovers, even more desperate for points, showed every intention of being party-poopers for most of the afternoon.

Woking lined up with Ollie Berquez partnering Karl Murray in midfield and with Giuseppe Sole and Goma Lambu on the flanks. The early signs were encouraging as a quick break from defence saw the ball played to Liam Marum, who set up Karl Murray for a shot past the far post. A fine cross from Goma Lambu was followed by a mazy run by Marum, spoiled only by a weak shot when he reached the penalty area. Then it all started to go badly wrong. Paul Stonehouse, a thorn in Woking?s side all afternoon, whipped in a superb cross from the left, on which Danny Carey-Bertram got the slightest of deflections to leave Nick Gindre with no chance. There was nearly a second as Rob Gier saved on the line after Nick Gindre had been beaten in a one-to-one.

The Cards countered briefly with a decent header from Craig McAllister, which the keeper tipped over and then Liam Marum outpaced the FGR defence from a Gindre drop-kick, only to see his shot parried away to safety. Rovers responded as Gindre scrambled away a corner and Carey-Bertram had a smart snap-shot. The Rovers midfield was now dominant, passing the ball sweetly in the best Jim Harvey style. They threatened once more as the ball ran loose in the box but Carey-Bertram could not force the ball home. But it was only a brief reprieve as Stonehouse got the better of Ollie Berquez and whipped in another fine cross for Carey-Bertram to stab home. With seconds left till half-time Kevin Nicholson scored with an unstoppable swerving shot from all of 35 yards to give Rovers an apparently unassailable 0-3 lead.

Half-time: Woking 0 Forest Green Rovers 3

In a move which differentiated him sharply from his predecessor, Graham Baker brought on all three of his substitutes at half-time, with Neil Smith, Ian Selley and Jason Pearce replacing Ollie Berquez, Gary MacDonald and Rob Gier. Woking switched to a back three of Murray, Hutchinson and Pearce, pushing Green forward. Briefly, it looked as though the changes would pay off as Woking at last gathered some momentum. But, apart from a clearing defensive header over the bar and some jostling in the box, the Cards failed to create any chances. Rovers regained the initiative once more, with the only signs of hope for the Cards coming from two blasts over the bar from Giuseppe Sole. Rovers should have made it 0-4 in the 67th minute as Michael Brough missed what looked like an open goal after some more fine work by Stonehouse down the Rovers? left. Gindre blocked a shot from Kevin Nicholson as Woking faltered defensively, with even the usually immaculate Tom Hutchinson making errors. The frustration was borne out by bookings, within a minute of each other, for Ian Selley and Neil Smith.

Just when it looked as though the early optimism was going to prove completely unfounded, Woking struck back. In their first attack for ages Goma Lambu got free on the right and swung over a fine cross, which Craig McAllister nodded down for Liam Marum to sweep home. Surely, with 81 minutes on the clock, this was just a consolation effort? But the crowd in the Bellway Homes Stand roared the Cards on, as Giuseppe Sole struck another effort over the bar and then up popped Goma Lambu again to fire in another cross, which Tom Hutchinson, swivelling, crashed home. Still too late, surely? As the board went up for three minutes? added time, Hutch went close again with a back header. Finally, a free-kick to Woking all of 35 yards out. The FGR keeper, like most of the spectators, seemed to assume that there was no way Giuseppe could score from there. Moving off his line, the keeper saw the ball flash past him into the top corner of his net for one of the best goals you?ll ever see at Kingfield. So, a day which began brightly, but then threatened to disappoint badly, ended in euphoria as the Cards grabbed a point. You had to feel sorry, though, for Rovers, who must have thought that they had the points, and safety, in the bag.

Woking: Nick Gindre, Rob Gier (Neil Smith, 45), Tom Hutchinson, Gary MacDonald (Jason Pearce), Adam Green; Giuseppe Sole, Ollie Berquez (Ian Selley, 45), Goma Lambu; Craig McAllister, Liam Marum.

Subs not used: James Bittner, Curtis Osano

Booked: Gary MacDonald, Neil Smith, Ian Selley, Giuseppe Sole

Goals: Liam Marum, Tom Hutchinson, Giuseppe Sole

Attendance: 1578

Sponsor?s MOTM: Rob Gier

My MOTM: No one played particularly well, but I?ll give the accolade to Gez for that amazing strike.

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