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Woking topple league leaders to maintain perfect home record

Haydn Cobb - 16th September 2015

Woking topple league leaders to maintain perfect home record Woking 2 Forest Green Rovers 1
The Vanarama National League
September 15th 2015

Woking maintained their 100% home record with a hard-fought victory over league leaders Forest Green Rovers with goals from John Goddard and Jimmy Keohane as the Cards were made to sweat after a late Rovers' rally.

Goddard grabbed his seventh goal of the season to give Woking the lead with a tenacious solo effort in the first half and Keohane provided the home side with a much-needed cushion for the win before Kurtis Guthrie pulled a goal back for the visitors to set up a frantic final 15 minutes.

However, Garry Hill’s men had clearly learnt from last Saturday’s disappointment of conceding a stoppage time equaliser against Guiseley as they held firm to fend off the table-toppers and notch up a fifth consecutive home win while ending Forest Green’s 100% start to the season.

The victory lifts Woking up to fourth in the Vanamara National League, two points off second place Gateshead and seven behind Forest Green who remain top.
Garry Hill made one change to his starting line-up, with fit-again Keiran Murtagh returning in central midfield and inheriting the captain’s armband with Mark Ricketts still out injured.

The league fixture set up an intriguing scenario which posed Woking, with a 100% home record, against Forest Green Rovers, who had a flawless record after winning all of their opening nine league games.

During the opening stages, both sides gave the opposing goalkeepers early tests with shots from range, with Dan Holman and Goddard going close for the home side.

Woking enjoyed the first period of sustained pressure with a series of corners, the last of which saw Brian Saah rise highest to nod the ball towards goal but his effort was hacked off the line by a defender. The Cards gave their visitors a thorough examination with Murtagh stamping his authority in midfield with some hard but well-timed tackles.
For all of Woking’s attacking prowess, the away side demonstrated why they had only conceded four goals this season, entering the game with a watertight backline.

Garry Hill was blighted by yet another injury headache when Chris Arthur was forced off early in the proceedings holding his left hamstring and had to be replaced by Kadell Daniel at left-back. Forest Green Rovers also lost their left-back James Jennings to injury midway through the first half, with Marcus Kelly coming on to replace him.

Five minutes before halftime Forest Green Rovers thought they had gone ahead after Aaron O’Connor’s deft header floated past Jake Cole but the linesman’s flag shot up, much to the frustration of the away side.

That scare sparked Woking into action and almost immediately they marauded forward to take the lead. Goddard cleverly jinked between defenders to give himself space to unleash a powerful effort which the goalkeeper Jonny Maxted could only parry into the air and Woking’s top scorer made sure by following up to nod the ball into an empty net for his third goal in two games.

With the traveling fans stunned and the Laithwaite Community Stadium in fine voice, Woking ended the half threatening to double their lead but Rovers managed to keep the deficit to just the one goal.

Half-time: Woking 1 Forest Green Rovers 0

After a subdued start to the second period, Forest Green Rovers began to show menace but the Cards' defence stood firm. The league leaders, who were trailing in a game for the first time this season, continued to push players forward while Hill’s men looked content to soak up pressure and play on the counter.

After an hour, the Woking boss made his second substitution of the game with Giuseppe Sole replacing the on loan Reading forward Harry Cardwell.

With the home side's first real attack of note in the second half, they increased their lead courtesy of Jimmy Keohane’s second goal of the season. Bruno Andrade, who was a thorn in Rovers side all game, turned full-back Kelly inside out and whipped in a tempting cross which flicked off Holman and found Keohane at the back post who composed himself to slot home.

The Cards' two goal cushion lasted just four minutes as Kurtis Guthrie created a goal from nothing for the visitors. The Rovers' forward unleashed a dipping shot from the edge of the area which outfoxed Cole, who could only watch in horror as the ball trickled over the line.

The goal caused a pulsating finish to the match with both sides having good opportunities to score again.

Andrade once again left Kelly bamboozled down the right-hand touchline and slotted over an inviting cross for Goddard to poke towards goal but his effort went the wrong side of the far post.

As the clocked ticked down into the final ten minutes. Rovers had a golden chance to equalise with substitute Delano Sam-Yorke heading narrowly over from eighth yards out.

The away side fought hard for a leveller but the Woking defence held firm to claim a well-deserved sixth win of the season and end the league leader’s perfect record. The match ended on a slightly sour note when substitute Kelly was shown a second yellow card for a bad lunge on Godfrey Poku in the final minute.

Woking will now prepare for another tough test at home when they host Cheltenham Town in a third versus fourth clash at the Laithwaite Community Stadium this coming Saturday.

Woking: Jake Cole, Chris Arthur (Kadell Daniel 28), Terell Thomas, Brain Saah, Jake Caprice, Bruno Andrade (Godfrey Poku 87), Jimmy Keohane, John Goddard, Keiran Murtagh (c), Harry Cardwell (Giuseppe Sole 61), Daniel Holman

Unused subs: Nick Hamman, Ben Pattie

Goals: John Goddard (43), Jimmy Keohane (70)

Forest Green Rovers: Jonny Maxted, David Pipe (c), Dale Bennett, Aarran Racine, James Jennings (Marcus Kelly 20), Aaron O’Connor (Jon Parkin 67), Sam Wedgbury, Keanu Marsh-Brown, Rob Sinclair, Elliott Frear (Delano Sam-Yorke 75), Kurtis Guthrie

Unused subs: Charlie Clough, Darren Jones

Goals: Kurtis Guthrie (74)

Cautioned: Sam Wedgbury (63)

Sent off: Kelly (two yellow cards (45, 90)

Sponsors’ MOTM: Bruno Andrade

Attendance: 1,775
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