MKJ Group

Cards return to form with determined Deva display

Malcolm Wyatt
10:39am, Sun 22nd Nov 2015
Chester 1 Woking 2
The Vanarama National League
November 21st 2015

A much-improved performance from Garry Hill’s Woking on the Welsh border on Saturday led to only their second league win in 11 attempts.

Assured finishing from Dan Holman and John Goddard book-ended a steely victory which can only serve to boost confidence after such a poor run.

Other than an emphatic win at lowly Halifax six weeks before, Woking had failed to win in the league since their impressive slaying of early leaders Forest Green Rovers at Kingfield in mid-September. But at the Deva Stadum they looked switched on throughout, putting in the kind of determined performance the long-suffering fans had craved.

Chester showed plenty of promise going forward, but in the end all they had to show for their efforts was a last-gasp Ross Hannah close-range effort, as Holman’s 15th-minute opener and Goddard’s late decider deservedly ensured that all three points returned to Surrey.

The action switched between the ends for much of the afternoon, keeping players and punters alike warm on a day when the sun’s rays could only half-shield them from the worst of a bitter cold wind.

After an initial John Goddard free-kick was stopped by home keeper Jon Worsnop, Chester - four slots higher than the 17th-placed Cards at 3pm - soon threatened, Tom Shaw’s snapshot pushed away by Jake Cole and Brian Saah heading away from the corner.

Hannah also looked sharp, but saw his first effort deflected for a corner, Chris Arthur heading away this time, while Chester skipper Ian Sharps tested his own keeper under pressure as Woking retaliated.

The visitors’ early forays upfield led to a breakthrough on 15 minutes, a move started by Bruno Andrade and Matt Robinson leading to debutant loanee Joe Quigley’s close-range effort being stopped on the line. But the ball then fell to Holman, who headed powerfully home.

The Colchester loanee was almost in again a minute later, the last defender’s outstretched foot denying him. But the hosts quickly countered, Cole tested by James Roberts with a mighty effort. And while Hannah got to the rebound, Cole was there again to deny him, the flag raised for offside anyway.

While an Andrade free-kick went all the way through without a decisive touch, Jones was on hand at the other end to cut out a cross following a swift raid, a home midfielder then firing over.

Woking looked rigid, and when Norwich loan defender Cameron Norman stopped the pacy Roberts in his tracks and conceded a free-kick, the defence stood up to deny John Rooney, the danger passing. Skipper Mark Ricketts was next to test the ref’s resolve with a tackle on the similarly-speedy Craig Mahon, and this time Wayne Rooney’s brother’s set-piece brought a corner, from which the Cards stood their ground again.

Chester’s own defence also did just enough as Andrade won a corner on the right, while Rooney fired over after Mahon’s lay-off and Andrade was back to clear as Roberts and Hannah dithered. A snuffed-out Holman raid followed, while Jones came to the rescue as Chester again over-elaborated and deliberated, and at the other end Goddard’s surging run was followed by a cross which no one could tuck away.

Roberts’ afternoon was soon over, hobbling off with a hamstring injury, replaced by teenage Everton loanee Calum Dyson. The next home attack was then thwarted by Arthur again, with time before the break for a great Cole stop from Hannah. Cole and his defence had looked assured throughout the opening half while Andrade and Goddard posed as much of a threat on the attack as had Holman and promising new strike partner Quigley.

Half-time: Chester 0 Woking 1

Quigley set up Holman for the first attack of the second half, his resultant pass to Andrade leading to a home defence close-down. Chester soon had an opening too, but Arthur again cleared while Hannah wasted a half-chance with a poorly-executed long-range pot.

Home sub Dyson looked increasingly capable, but still Woking tidied up, Cole denying his next strike from distance, although Worsnop in the opposite net looked less assured from a Robinson effort, the same Luton loanee threatening again from the corner.

Holman couldn’t make capital of Quigley’s next lay-off following an Arthur free-kick, the new arrival showing a great touch. Meanwhile, Chester’s Dyson struck the top of the upright, with the follow-up struck just wide, while Goddard went close again as Woking responded, a promising Andrade surge spoiled by a poor cross.

Robinson was next to make an important block, denying Shaw then setting up a counter-attack, feeding Andrade, while another home attack was cut short as Mahon lost his footing, Arthur clearing.

Andrade remained busy at both ends, clearing the next Chester charge, the Blues fans increasingly frustrated and Woking working off scraps, involving Andrade and Robinson in particular. Jones drilled wide at one end while Arthur cut out the next home raid - testing his keeper with a back-pass.

A nervy sequence followed, Ryan Higgins smacking the woodwork after three further vital blocks from the Cards’ under-siege defence, before a switch led to Quigley again feeding Holman, the latter’s wayward finish at least giving us a chance to catch our breath.

Quigley had a powerful strike after good work from Goddard, before Andrade - a worthy recipient of the home sponsors’ man of the match award – made way for Jake Caprice.

The longer the Cards kept the ball in the opposition half, the less likely Steve Burr’s side were to hit back, and when they did Woking remained resistant. Arthur again snuffed out Hannah, whose next centre was far too strong, while Ricketts stopped another attack and Cole turned a fine effort from Hannah around the post.

Quigley was replaced by Jimmy Keohane as the Surrey visitors looked to slow down the pace, and while Chester continued to battle, Woking soon had their killer second goal. This time the move involved a lightning right-wing raid by new-blood Caprice, whose crisp cross found Goddard in acres of space to fire into an empty net, Worsnop already drawn.

And while there was still time for Hannah to hit home at close-range deep into stoppage time, Woking had done more than enough to secure a much-needed victory.

Chester: Jon Worsnop, Ryan Higgins, Johnny Hunt, Jordan Chappell (Craig Hobson 73), Craig Mahon, Ross Hannah, John Rooney (Luke Woodland 76), Ian Sharps ©, Ben Heneghan, Tom Shaw, James Roberts (Calum Dyson 37)

Unused subs: Dylan Forth, Ben Gordon

Booking: Sharps 72

Woking: Jake Cole, Chris Arthur, Mark Ricketts ©, Brian Saah, Joey Jones, John Goddard, Matt Robinson, Bruno Andrade (Jake Caprice 79), Joe Quigley (Jimmy Keohane 89), Dan Holman (Kadell Daniel 90), Cameron Norman

Unused subs: Nick Hamann, Terell Thomas

Attendance: 1,837

My MOTM: Joey Jones: It seems harsh on Jake Cole after such a great display in goal, or Chris Arthur and Bruno Andrade following their industry all over the pitch, but Jones’ switch to central defence proved pivotal and he characterised the best attributes of a far more effective Woking unit in a true team performance.

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