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Red Dragons slain in heavy rain by committed Cards

Malcolm Wyatt
10:43am, Sun 10th Jan 2016
Wrexham 1 Woking 3
Vanarama National League
January 9th 2016

Ninety-plus minutes of rain on a pitch already saturated in parts could not deter Garry Hill’s Woking from a fine victory in North Wales, as the Surrey visitors moved within a point of the play-off zone.

While an early own goal from home 'keeper Rhys Taylor following a mighty Keiran Murtagh free-kick was quickly cancelled out, decisive second-half finishes from Joe Quigley and Bruno Andrade saw the Cards stretch their league record to seven wins from nine and push them up to sixth in the table.

The visitors didn't have the best of starts, a combative Giuseppe Sole – replacing departed loanee Dan Holman - in the book within two minutes, in a game where slippery conditions led to several cautions as referee Alan Young looked to keep a handle on things.

The resultant free-kick came to nothing, but Woking 'keeper Jake Cole soon had to scramble out to deny Wes York, while at the other end Murtagh put away Andrade but his fellow midfielder couldn't find a way through.

Cameron Norman (pictured), caked in mud from early on, was busy on the left flank, but the hosts proved difficult to break down until a neat volley from Sole – after good work by Joey Jones - had to be turned away by Taylor.

Taking that as a cue, Murtagh struck home from a set-piece, striking from outside the area after a John Goddard corner was half-cleared, the ball coming back off a post and taking an unfortunate bounce off Taylor to find the net on 13 minutes. The linesman’s flag was raised, but whatever he saw was ultimately over-ruled by the ref.

Gary Mills’ hosts were almost straight back in it, Rob Evans letting lose with a cracking shot of his own, Cole making a great save. Wrexham continued to press though, and the increasingly influential Dominic Vose levelled on 16 minutes, unleashing a mighty 30-yard effort after a foul on York by Jones.

Woking fought back, Goddard and Quigley exchanging passes on the left, and while that move came to nothing, the Cards continued to press as the conditions worsened and the rain continued to fall. But Brian Saah twice tidied up at the back as the hosts began to get on top, Garry Hill soon deciding to change things around, Jake Caprice making way for Chris Arthur on 29 minutes.

Another yellow card followed for Woking, Jones going into the book and conceding a free-kick from which Vose again came close from more or less the same spot, striking just wide of Cole's far post. Wrexham's Manny Smith was then booked for a foul on Andrade close to the halfway line, doubts growing as to whether or not the match could continue.

Visitors' skipper Mark Ricketts made an important step to deny the next North Walian raid, the hosts finishing the half on top, good work on their left wing leading to their first corner, while Vose made a great run and beat his marker before shooting on goal and won another, from which Jennings eventually tested Cole from distance, the Cards 'keeper collecting at the second attempt.

But Woking came back again, Simon Heslop heading behind as Quigley looked for a gap. And from the next visitors' attack, Goddard made space for himself before a mighty effort that Taylor did well to put behind.

Half-time: Wrexham 1 Woking 1

Woking were first back out in the rain and made the livelier start to the second half, 19-year-old Quigley forcing Taylor into an early stop while Andrade went on a fine run but his final shot, with few alternative options available, was lacking.

The Cards were back in front in the 49th minute after a corner on the left, the home defence failing to stop Goddard as he weaved his magic then fed Quigley, the big striker – on loan at The Racecourse Ground as recently as October – on hand in the six-yard box to find the left corner of the net.

Wrexham came back at their visitors, and Norman had to stand up well to deny Sean Newton at the far post, with the next attack similarly thwarted, Goddard back to lend a hand and Saah clearing.

As the Red Dragons continued to breathe fire, Vose made a commanding run and exchanged passes with York, but the latter's return ball was too long, while Cole palmed away a shot from distance by Ross White, and York was again kept out.

The sturdy Arthur was next to deny York after another Vose-led attack, intercepting then setting off on a counter-raid, while Quigley was not far off at the near-post after a defence-splitting cross from the left.

Wrexham pushed up again and Arthur further denied York, while home sub James Gray wasn't far off with a header from a left-wing delivery, the same combination leading to the home fans thinking they were level, Gray somehow finding the side-netting from the next cross.

Vose, tiring now, fired his next free-kick over the wall but also over the bar from 20 yards, while as Arthur countered, the final ball proved too long, the Yellows largely concerned with soaking up the Reds’ pressure and trying to catch out their hosts.

Lone striker Quigley beat his marker and went on a fine run only to shoot wide, the home fans increasingly frustrated at the way things were turning out. At the other end Evans drilled wide after a promising attack, while as Woking broke away, Quigley went close from a Goddard lay-off.

York couldn’t get enough of a touch to beat Cole as Wrexham tried again, while both Arthur and Norman made important touches to cut out the resultant corner, Cole punched away the follow-up centre, and Norman and Saah made the interceptions that stopped the hosts in their tracks the next time, Cole again punching away under pressure.

As Woking rode the storm, Ricketts denied sub Kayden Jackson and second Woking sub Godfrey Poku was working hard at the back, and on the next counter-raid, Taylor found himself stranded after a poor clearance on 83 minutes, Andrade taking advantage to make his way forward then supply a decisive left-footed strike, the 22-year-old roving midfielder keeping his cool where many may have blasted and lost their footing.

That was game over, Gray and Sean Newton soon finding their way into the referee’s book as Wrexham lost heart, their impressive attendance beginning to thin out. Andrade might even have sneaked in one more from there, the pocket of Cards' fans soon celebrating another great win on the road.

Wrexham: Rhys Taylor, Sean Newton, Manny Smith, Blaine Hudson (James Gray 58), Jamal Fyfield, Dominic Vose (Kayden Jackson 73), Connor Jennings (c), Robbie Evans (Adriano Moke 81), Wes York, Ross White, Simon Heslop

Subs not used: Lee Fowler, Mark Carrington

Goal: Vose 16

Bookings: Smith 33, Evans 45, Gray 86, Newton 87

Woking: Jake Cole, Jake Caprice (Chris Arthur 29), Mark Ricketts (c), Brian Saah, Joey Jones, Keiran Murtagh, Giuseppe Sole (Godfrey Poku 64), John Goddard, Bruno Andrade (Andrew Mills 90), Joe Quigley, Cameron Norman

Subs not used: Nick Hamann, Gary Abisogun

Goals: Taylor (og) 13, Quigley 49, Andrade 83

Bookings: Sole 2, Jones 31

Attendance: 4,030 (83 from Woking)

My MOTM: Cameron Norman – it shouldn’t be about how much mud a player has on him, but the 20-year-old Norwich City loanee was covered from the opening minutes and seemed to personify the commitment put in by Woking to achieve this great result.

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