Boz's Fruit & Veg

Cards' poor form continues

Alan Barnes
10:21am, Wed 16th Mar 2016
Woking 1 Merstham 3
Surrey Senior Cup Semi-Final
March 15th 2016

With Holman mania hopefully now starting to recede, this match gave the Cards the chance to reach the final of the county cup for the twenty-eighth time, having previously won twelve of them. Woking's first entry in the competition was in season 1897/98, the first win being in 1913 when there were 5,000 in attendance, the Cards triumphing 2-0 against Metrogas.

Garry Hill, the longest serving manager in the National League, was hoping for a positive end to the season in cup competitions following the disappointment of the team's recent exit in the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy at Grimsby.

Merstham, currently sitting in fourteenth place in the Ryman Premier League, presented the home side with their toughest test to date in the competition.

To the disappointment of the sparse crowd, Woking never really got going for much of the match; the visitors defended well and were ably backed up by Josh Smith in goal. The slow tempo of the game helped Merstham get men behind the ball when not in possession. When they did have the ball, they broke quickly and in numbers and were a threat to the Woking defence all night.

The breakthrough for the visitors came midway through the half. Saraiva found himself in acres of space on the edge of the box and his firm shot low across Nick Hamann nestled in the right hand corner of the net.

The best chance for Woking came from a corner, which was headed over by Brian Saah, who was restored to the team following his recent hamstring injury.

Half-time: Woking 0 Merstham 1

The second period started with the visitors again looking more comfortable.

Woking, needing to start on the front foot, were caught on the break down the right. The ball was pulled back for Penny to hit the ball into the roof of the net from inside the penalty area to extend Merstham's lead.

The Cards were then given a lifeline. Keiran Murtagh, back in the side following suspension, got behind the defence before being brought down by Henriques who, being the last defender, was shown a straight red card. Goddard duly dispatched the penalty to set up an interesting final twenty-five minutes.

Woking then had their best spell of the match but without managing to cause the packed visitors' defence too much trouble as they dug in in search of a famous victory, which was confirmed when Willock cut inside two defenders to finish low into the left corner to complete a miserable night for the home side.

There is no doubt that Garry Hill would have been looking for and expecting a victory to boost the sagging morale of his team. Aside from Surrey Senior Cup and FA Trophy ties, the last league triumph was way back on January 9th at Wrexham.

With no game this coming Saturday, there will be plenty of time for soul-searching amongst players and management before the team take on bottom club Kidderminster Harriers at the Laithwaite Community Stadium on March 26th. On the plus side, Garry Hill's 'safety target' of fifty points is just one point away with eight games of the season remaining.

WOKING: Nick Hamann, Jake Caprice, Brian Saah (Chris Arthur 70) Joey Jones (Bruno Andrade 70), Keiran Murtagh, Giuseppe Sole, John Goddard, Matt Robinson, Joe Quigley (Godfrey Poku 80) Alex Smith, Cameron Norman

Subs not used: Jake Cole, Mark Ricketts

Booked: Cameron Norman

Attendance: 229

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