Cards' fourth win in a row puts them second

Brian Caffarey
9:19pm, Sat 22nd Aug 2015
Woking 5 Chester 2
22 August 2015

Almost predictably, a game which, on paper at least, was expected to be dominated by two hitherto almost impregnable defences turned into a goal fest, with the Cards eventually securing a very comfortable win against a Chester side reduced to 10 men midway through the first half. The victory took Woking to second place in the table.

A hot August Saturday brought the familiar spate of travel problems, with Chester apparently not arriving till gone two o’clock, while, thanks to major signalling problems at Woking, I missed the first quarter of an hour or so of the game. Let’s hope the Blues had an easier journey back.

I arrived to find that, as expected, Gez Sole was missing with a hamstring injury sustained during the Cards’ fine midweek away win, with the lively Kadell Daniel taking his place. The rest of the side was unchanged, with Adam Newton joining the bench again. Chester’s Ross Hannah was just being replaced by Craig Mahon as I took my place on the baking open terrace. I am reliably informed that the main incidents which I missed were Chester going close from a free-kick and Dan Holman doing well, with his back to goal, to create a good chance. It was immediately clear, though, that the Cards, prompted by the skills of Keiran Murtagh, Joey Jones and John Goddard in midfield, had by then established themselves as the likelier side – and the opening goal duly followed a few minutes later.

Holman had already been played in by Goddard when a long ball saw the combative on-loan striker get in front of the last defender, Ben Heneghan, who brought him down unceremoniously in the box. The ball ran loose and Holman, rising from the turf, put it into the net but the referee had already blown for a penalty. After Heneghan was dismissed Goddard, in the absence of Scott Rendell and Sole, scored confidently from the spot to put the Cards 1-0 up.

Garry Hill’s side proceeded to ‘turn it on’ but, as against Altrincham a week earlier, were slow to administer the coup de grace to deflated opponents. In one exquisite passage of play both Daniel and Goddard bemused defenders in the box to put in dangerous balls but Holman wasted a glorious chance by firing wide.

Other chances followed as ‘man of the match’ Murtagh put in a fine cross, which Holman nodded just wide, before Woking had a scare when Chester’s huge centre forward Hobson found himself clear, only to be foiled by Jake Cole, while the Woking defenders vainly appealed for offside.

The Cards continued to threaten, breaking quickly through Daniel in particular. He had a shot blocked; Holman was stifled by two defenders; and Murtagh unleashed a fierce left-footed strike which crashed into the side netting. Daniel won a corner, with the clearance falling to Mark Ricketts, who drove the ball low into the area only to see it blocked. Jones, who must have run Murtagh close for ‘man of the match’, prompted another attack, with Holman blasting over the bar in added time.

Half-time: Woking 1 Chester 0

The Cards were immediately back on the offensive after the break. Holman slipped a ball through to Goddard but the Chester keeper was quickly off his line to smother the shot. Roles were then reversed as Goddard’s crossfield pass, via at least one dummy, found its way to Holman on the edge of the ‘D’. He turned cleverly to make space and sent a superb shot just inside the post to make it 2-0 to the Cards with 47 minutes gone.

Woking were now in complete control and able to pass the ball around virtually at will. After more half-chances had fallen to Goddard and Daniel, it was the latter who produced another memorable goal. Gaining a free-kick out on the right flank, there was no doubt (as I stood directly behind him) that his intention was to curl the ball into the far top corner – and that is precisely what he did to his and his team mates’ delight.

All credit to Chester who, despite being 3-0 down and reduced to ten men, staged a mini-revival. Spurred on by Mahon, who had just been thwarted as Caprice nicked the ball off his toes, they pulled a goal back as Kay moved decisively to the near post in the 65th minute to glance a header past Cole, ruining Woking’s run of clean sheets.

Woking regained control, with Daniel almost registering again with another well-taken free-kick, this one skidding just wide of the post. The three-goal margin was then restored when Jones, fed by Andrade, who was on for Goddard, drove into the box and let fly past the Chester keeper to make it 4-1 after 76 minutes.

Garry Hill took this opportunity to bring on Godfrey Poku and Ben Pattie for Ricketts and Daniel. Pattie headed down for Andrade but the Portuguese winger was unable to take advantage, and then Pattie, slipped in by Holman, fired wide. Caprice, who attacked well all afternoon down the right flank, then created a chance for Jones, who sliced wide from the right of the box.

But it was the visitors who, surprisingly, grabbed the next goal. A Murtagh foul just outside the box in the 89th minute resulted in John Rooney scoring with a fine free-kick, the ball dipping just under Cole’s crossbar.

There was one final twist in the four minutes added on. Andrade worked a ball through to Pattie and with the defenders calling for offside the young on-loan striker stroked the ball into the net to make it 5-2 to the Cards.

This was an excellent all-round display even if Chester played much of the match with only ten men. The one-man difference could not really disguise the fact that on the day Woking looked a much more creative and skilful side on the ball from the excellent back four, through a talented midfield and to the ever-threatening strike force of Holman and Daniel. I am beginning to think that this is the most skilful Woking side I’ve seen since the days of Walker, Steele et al.

But the Cards have all too often been tripped up by less-fancied sides in the past and will therefore need to avoid any complacency when they come up against Boreham Wood and Welling United next weekend. The Wood’s 2-0 win today at Tranmere should help to focus the Cards’ minds.

Woking: Jake Cole, Jake Caprice, Chris Arthur, Mark Ricketts (Godfrey Poku 78), Brian Saah, Ismail Yakubu, Keiran Murtagh, John Goddard (Bruno Andrade 56), Kadell Daniel (Ben Pattie 78), Dan Holman

Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Adam Newton

Goals: John Goddard (pen) 24, Dan Holman 47, Kadell Daniel 53, Joey Jones 76, Ben Pattie 90

Booked: Keiran Murtagh

Chester: Worsnop, Higgins, Hunt, George, Sharps, Chapell (Kay 52), Rooney, Hobson, Hannah (Mahon), Shaw (Tonge 53), Heneghan

Unused subs: Forth, Thomson

Goals: Hay 65, Rooney 89

Sent off: Heneghan

Booked: Rooney

Sponsors’ MOTM: Keiran Murtagh (pictured)

Attendance: 1503

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